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Getting down with the kids

Working in a creative agency can be a serious business, but using your imagination doesn’t have to be hard work. Emily Moffatt, 44’s Creative Lead and Head of Studio, looks at why creativity should be child’s play…

I live a double life. At work, I’m balancing a bustling studio of designers, brushing up on brand guidelines and finding ways to channel my creativity in a fast-paced environment. At home, I’m running around in an even faster-paced environment after my 20-month-old daughter Edie and my five-year-old son Freddie.

My children have taught me a lot of things – for example, what the real priorities of life truly are, why all parents need negotiation skills fit for the United Nations, and how you should always plan for the unexpected. But they’ve also taught me that you can let your imagination run free and wild – in most situations.

Picasso famously said: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” In ‘mum mode’, I’ve watched Edie build structures out of her lunch worthy of inclusion in the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In ‘work mode’, I often see colleagues discuss how to be creative and what that actually means – so I fully agree with Pablo.

Sadly, studies have shown that we undergo a drastic drop in our ability to come up with new ideas as we age. So, what can we learn from our small artists while they’re still in creative free-flow mode?

1. Break the rules

Or at least bend them. A lot of children don’t see rules as fixed – they see them as a challenge to overcome. And where children might have free reign, we do have parameters put around us when using our creativity – but that doesn’t mean we need to be constrained by them. For example, we need to adhere to our clients’ brand guidelines, but that doesn’t mean we can’t push them. They’re guidelines, not unbreakable laws.

2. Ask a lot of questions

Learn new things and find new ways to think about the things you thought you already knew. I had to explain the concept of time to Freddie the other day and it wasn’t something I’ve really considered before. Children have so much to learn and explore about the world, and so do we – we just need to discover it. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

3. Get silly

Psychologist and psychiatrist Carl Jung once said: “The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect, but by the play instinct”. There’s no such thing as a bad idea, so free your mind and have a bit of fun.

Children really don’t care what people think of them – trust me, I’ve caught Freddie and Edie minesweeping food off a restaurant floor. So take a leaf out of their book and give yourself permission to let loose. Whether it’s in a brainstorm, or humouring a wacky idea – it doesn’t need to be good, but it might just help the right idea find its way to the surface.

Studies of children also show that watching someone else being creative, viewing a fantasy film or simply playing helps encourage new insights, analytical thinking and creativity. So, as a creative agency we’re in a great position to work together and generate some amazing ideas.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to take my crayons to the drawing board… Anyone want to join?

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