Monthly Archives: June 2013

What William Morris teaches us about creativity

OK, so I have quoted William Morris before.

He was ahead of his time – and behind the times – in lots of ways. A lot like the rest of us.

But I was recalling the ‘useful and beautiful’ quote the other day and was looking at other things he said and came across a few things we should all bear in mind as we go about our work. Apologies for these quotes being out of context and for using them for my own ends…

Let’s start with ‘useful and beautiful’.

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

In my previous article, I thought this was a good rule of thumb for content strategy. It’s very powerful. Keeping things useful and beautiful is a simple approach. It means you have to understand what’s useful and beautiful to your target audience, which takes a bit of work. Simple is often quite difficult to achieve.

“A good way to rid one’s self of a sense of discomfort is to do something. That uneasy, dissatisfied feeling is actual force vibrating out of order; it may be turned to practical account by giving proper expression to its creative character.”

We are all creative people. Our creativity is not exactly stifled but definitely stalled by the distractions of life. For me, I will play with my iPhone or watch rotten TV and then feel sorry for myself when I could have been doing something. Do something and feel better. Protestant work ethic perhaps, perhaps it’s just human nature to need to make things, express ourselves.

“History has remembered the kings and warriors, because they destroyed; art has remembered the people, because they created.”

Let’s make stuff and be remembered!

“The true secret of happiness lies in the taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life.”

This is a must for all planners/strategists as well as creative people in general. It’s people watching, reading lots of different genres, watching films and popular TV shows… Exploring cereal packets and inspecting shopping malls.  Life is rich. You don’t have to go far to be an explorer and learn from your travels.

“Apart from the desire to produce beautiful things, the leading passion of my life has been and is hatred of modern civilization.”

This is a sticky one. I work in a very modern industry. But I don’t like lots of things about it. I’m keen to change it. We all have the power in us to make things better, turn that hate into positive change.

“Nothing should be made by man’s labour which is not worth making, or which must be made by labour degrading to the makers.”

This is so true. ‘Why are we doing this?’ ‘Why will this solve the business problem?’ are the two most empowering questions creative and strategists can ask. So ask them, people!

“It is the childlike part of us that produces works of the imagination. When we were children time passed so slow with us that we seemed to have time for everything.”

The creative adult is the child who survived, as someone else paraphrased later. (i.e. me.) I miss those days which lasted forever and I did drawings and wrote stories and made up interminable structureless plays. But time is just the same. I might have more things to do than I did then but I can still make time.  We all can.

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