Thoughts on creativity

Thoughts on creativity

Elespacio is a creative agency, so we must be creative. What does that actually mean? Most of the time our work leads to a visual outcome, but there is more to creativity than what you see on the page. Our strategy work depends on our creativity just as much. When we envision brands, their tone of voice, visual expression and communication strategies, when we measure and analyse data, when we tame technologies to work to our advantage, and make our clients’ goals ours — we are creative.

What does that say about who we are, how do we be creative, what does it take? How and where did we learn it? Is it a character trait, a job, an attitude? So many questions …

The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud

Coco Chanel
think for yourself illustration

The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.

Coco Chanel

An homage
to asking questions

The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a very creative mind to spot wrong questions.

Antony Jay

Nothing triggers our solution-oriented brains like a good, powerful question does. Are there bad questions? – Yes. (silence). Closed questions with their poor yes or no answers are fruitless – lifeless branches, a certain death to any thought. So what makes for a good question, how do we invite the mind to run free? Just like that … Asking for what if and how – in which way, who and where – we open the gate for storytelling, rich detail, the flavor, sound, the touch of life. With details comes imagination, holding surprise and secret knowledge by her hands – Hello Creativity, you lovely and wise little creature!

But wait – what about asking why, the question of all questions? Our thoughts are trained to follow the rigidly linear path of causality. Instead of collecting flower after flower deep into the forest, we build stone by stone a single road which we accept then as the only viable connection in between two places, cemented for eternity – and we will never again stroll along the fields … As children we are taught to not get distracted, side-tracked, diverted – and ever since we stay on the path and walk straight, asking ourselves where ever creativity went. She is still there, playing in the greens, waiting for us to join …

Creativity is intelligence having fun.

Albert Einstein
playful brains illustration

Creative questioning:
A playful exercise for the enquiring mind

1. Pick an everyday object or topic and write questions around it. Ask What would it be like if …, How could it be different …, What would change if … and all the other questions that challenge your knowledge about the matter.

2. Choose a question and write a story, draw the answer, invent a dialogue or scenario around it, conduct an imaginary interview or thought experiment.

3. Now observe. What did you discover that’s new to you, where did you find surprise, how do your answers relate to what you do and look for?

Circular questions:
asking out of the box

In marketing we deal with complex systems of connection and interaction between different players, such as markets, users, customers etc. But we usually simplify these systems into dual relationships. We talk about product-customer interaction, brand-audience and so on.

Circular questions, on the other hand, ask about the interaction between three players or more. What do you think our new customers think about our loyal customers? What do you think our competitor thinks about our audience?

As twisted and far fetched as these questions might seem, they are useful because they encourage new connections and offer a change of perspective. They require you to put yourself in someone else’s mind. They ask you to think out of the box.

Why we should
all try to fail

If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original.

Ken Robinson, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything

As we move through life we are used to walking along the stable ground of one idea: efficiency. No mistakes, no detour, no experiment. But the key to productivity and success also opens the door for mechanical reproduction of the well-known, safe and steady strategies, narrowing our minds into the corridors of linear thinking and replication. However, each well-worn process and trusted technique started out untried and untested. It was the result of trial and error. In other words, it had to be created.

original/golf illustration

I found him at a bench about three feet wide and twelve to fifteen feet long, on which there were hundreds of little test cells that had been made up by his corps of chemists and experimenters. He was seated at this bench testing, figuring, and planning. I then learned that he had thus made over nine thousand experiments in trying to devise this new type of storage battery, but had not produced a single thing that promised to solve the question. In view of this immense amount of thought and labor, my sympathy got the better of my judgment, and I said: ‘Isn’t it a shame that with the tremendous amount of work you have done you haven’t been able to get any results?’ Edison turned on me like a flash, and with a smile replied: ‘Results! Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results! I know several thousand things that won’t work.

Walter S. Mallory, Edison: His Life and Inventions, 1910
original/golf illustration

In the eye of the

A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince

What has been said of the arts is also true for visual communication and advertising: There are two acts of creation involved in every piece of communication — one of being conceived, and the second of being received. It’s the playful mind of the spectator, her ability to make connections and fill the gaps, it’s her imagination that makes the idea complete.

All in all, the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualification and thus adds his contribution to the creative act. This becomes even more obvious when posterity gives a final verdict and sometimes rehabilitates forgotten artists.

Marcel Duchamp, The Creative Act, 1957

Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.



Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.

Erich Fromm

Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.


If you look closer at the process that characterizes any creative act, you will discover two stages: creativity might show itself at first as play, as exploration; you challenge, you dare, without fear of the consequences. But then comes choice. Your creative act may change the world, your idea has consequences — “It’s alive!” Frankenstein exclaims, now what? Creativity is creation plus choice. And that’s where courage comes in. The courage to stand behind your creation — or to discard it, to speak up or stay silent. An idea might come from intuition, connecting what is still unlinked, but once an idea is conceived, it is courage that brings it to life.

Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.

original/golf illustration

The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.

Sylvia Plath

We wish you a wonderfully creative year, walking unknown paths full of discoveries …

Illustrations by Chloe Bachelor