I once nearly got fired (or maybe it was “I almost quit”) from an ad layout job because I was thinking. Problem was, I thought I was being creative, or, at the very least, using my creativity to solve a problem.
The problem: Fitting a vendor-supplied graphic into a finite space (the ad size the advertiser had paid for).
My solution: Cropping out extraneous elements in the artwork to make it, and the the ad copy, fit in the allotted space.
I must tell you, this occurred in the mid-Seventies (1976, to be exact). At least at the small paper I worked for, ad layout was done with scissors, glue pots, and rulers. “Cropping” meant wielding scissors at the piece of artwork. There was no seamless “Undo” function. So, once I cropped the artwork, there was really no turning back.
Imagine my dismay when the publisher (it was a very small paper) called me into his office to severely (and loudly) criticize me for “thinking too much.” My transgression: I had cropped out the line-drawing pine trees from the photo of the work boot. To make matters worse, this was an ad the publisher had sold directly with the vendor; it wasn’t sold by one of his salesmen.
It was almost lunchtime, so I left for lunch, drove to my girlfriend’s house, and wailed that “I’m NOT going back to that place! The guy’s an IDIOT!!!” Well, she “talked me down,” and I did go back. And I started looking for a new job.
I’ve never forgotten that episode. I’ve tried to think creatively much of the time. Unfortunately, when my creativity fails me — or when I don’t take the time to let creativity present me with an answer — I get frustrated. It’s hard to force creativity; but it’s even harder to force myself to NOT think.
What are your thoughts on creativity? How have you used it? When do you wish you had?