Start With Something You’ve Never Seen Before.

Written by Mike NicholsonCreativity

Close your eyes.

Think of an iconic image you love from culture. One that sticks in your mind.

It’s not easy to create one.

But I think the best creatives, start every brief trying to create something they’ve never seen before.

Something unique.


That attracts the eye.

Intrigues the mind.

Stops people scrolling and skipping.

Has the potential to become a meme.

To enter popular culture.

And if you’re really lucky, be defaced by Banksy.

Great ads do this.

So next time you work on a brief.

Take a pad.

Sharpen your pencil.

Think of visuals.


Doodle some more.

For an hour.

Look at what stands out from the pad. Sketch it better.

Finally draw it as best you can.

It’ll be liberating.

It’ll be original.

It’ll be a piece of you.

It’ll win prizes because no one on the jury will say ‘It’s been done before’.

This thinking can be applied to all forms of creativity: Book covers, Album covers, movie script openings to name but a few.

As my wise young art director Paul Pateman always used to say to every team we mentored:

Make it simple, relevant and original. That’s it.

Right, I’m off to find my pencil sharpener.

Written by
Mike Nicholson
Mike brings almost 25 years of experience from the world of digital, design, branding, marketing and advertising. Previously he was the Executive Creative Director at Brave, The&Partnership and Toaster (Google Creative Lab's partner). As a creative Mike has also worked at AMV BBDO, TBWA, Google Creative Lab, Wieden + Kennedy and Adam and EVE DDB. He was named the number 1 English Creative in The GUNN Report 2009 and was the youngest member of ...

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