What would you come up with if someone asked you to draw—yes, sketch it out right on the spot—your creative process? Do you even have one? What would it look like? That’s the curious premise behind The Creative Process Illustrated, by W. Glenn Griffin and Deborah Morrison. We’ve invited them to show some of the process maps created by the brightest creative minds of our time in a presentation at the HOW Design Conference in Chicago, June 24–27. HOW editor Jessica Kuhn interviewed the authors about their project. Here’s a snippet of that conversation; read the full story here.
How did the idea for “The Creative Process Illustrated” come about?
Griffin: For my doctoral dissertation, I conducted a study examining how advertising students developed their own creative process and how teaching influenced it. Based on those findings, Deborah and I started thinking about how the creative process looked at the professional level and started thinking of ways we might capture it. The challenge, of course, would be to find a method that creative pros would find fascinating rather than dry and academic. Asking them to visualize (draw) their creative process turned out to be both a fun and methodologically sound way of doing it. There’s lots of existing research that uses visualization of thinking as “data.” When drawings started coming in, we were amazed by what we saw and knew that there was a book in it.
Morrison: I like to think of that moment when Glenn and I were looking at student work that just blew us away. “Wouldn’t you like to crawl into their brains and see what lives there?” I asked. Glenn agreed. Then, I wanted to get beer after a long day. But Glenn took that idea and crafted an amazing platform for research, interaction with talented professionals, and this book. He is amazing.
Which process map surprised you the most?
Griffin: We are often asked if we have a favorite, but honestly, I think it’s tough to pick one. I love the elegant simplicity of Jim Mountjoy’s (LKM) statement about creative briefs. Andy Azula’s (The Martin Agency) drawing is so gorgeous and filled with animation and humor. And Silver Cuellar’s (Firehouse) faceprint on the page is wonderfully weird. But for me, the most surprising process canvas we received was from Kate Lummus (Publicis Modem), who tore apart the paper and taped it all back together in order to make her statement—so cool.
Morrison: We were excited as each one came in, like receiving a new gift in the mail and thinking each time “this is the best.” I have to say, I was awestruck when I saw Kevin Roddy’s (BBH). It was so beautiful and simple while it captured the complexity of working through a problem. I also thoughts Rachel Howald’s (McCann) showed us how a writer works. Simon Mainwaring’s is one of my favorite teaching tools at this point because it describes the iterative process and the sheer poetry of being creative.