I’ve always believed that inspiration can come from anywhere. Great ideas lurk away from desks and outside conference rooms at all hours, every day. At BFG, some of our best work has been known to originate during jam sessions, friendly ping pong or foosball matches, or by simply sharing interests and endeavors that we engage in outside of the office.
Creativity often fuels more creativity. It’s keeping the pump primed that’s key.
So how do you do keep brilliant designers, amazing writers or ridiculously talented conceptual thinkers inspired?
After asking ourselves this question several years back, we floated an idea to proactively help tackle the issue — from Day 1. That’s the day when every new creative receives his or her first deck.
Fortunately it’s not your standard presentation deck. Instead, everyone is given a skateboard deck to paint, carve, chisel and — in the spirit of skate culture — there are no rules. What’s more? The due date is… up to each individual.
A dream-come-true-deck-assignment? Perhaps. But the real beauty of it is the colorful collection that continues to line the halls of BFG Headquarters and keeps growing right along with us.
You might say these stationary skate decks got our creative wheels in motion. That was just the beginning.
Soon we evolved this idea into our internal “BFG Series,” now a staple of our creatively driven culture at BFG. This ongoing initiative is a collective of creative projects that have some great benefits for individuals, boost internal morale, and have even reinvigorated teams across multiple departments.
Recently, some of my favorite endeavors have included a series of MIMOBOT USB flash drives and a designer series of Moleskine journals our talented teams created. For the MIMOBOTs, we had a lot of fun creating our own characters depicted within each bright, unique design. What I loved about the journals was the unexpected juxtaposition of illustration subject matter that was fused together for each leather cover. Both projects resulted in functional art that gets used every day. Little, daily surges of inspiration.
So, have we perfected the art of keeping creatives happy?
No. Of course not. There’s no perfect recipe or formula, of course, but here are a few things we’ve kept in mind to keep our creatives inspired.
(Remember extra credit projects? These are nothing like that. Here are a few reasons why.)
Keep it Different.
The creative soul is unlikely to be fed at a trough. That’s why many of our in-house projects are done away from the computer, desk, or conference room. This results in projects that are more tactile in nature, allowing artists to flex their creative range and at the very least enjoy a change of pace.
Keep it Loose.
Sure, it’s a work project that originated at work and will live on at work, but it shouldn’t feel like work. It can’t be client work in disguise and it’s best when it’s not too prescriptive. These projects work best when the concept takes people out of their marketing mindset to have fun creating art simply for art’s sake.
Keep it Voluntary.
As much (or as little perhaps) as fellow BFGers want to participate in a project, it’s understood that the work-life balance teeters differently for everyone at different times throughout the year. We get that and are sensitive to it too. That’s why all internal projects are optional. Sometimes more people opt in when the work isn’t labeled as “mandatory.”
Keep it Collaborative.
This doesn’t mean “group project,” but simply that there is an emphasis on sharing. From gallery-opening-like events to a simple creative display, it’s always really rewarding to share, showcase, and celebrate the incredible range of ideas that come out of these projects. I’m always amazed by the talent the flourishes from a healthy dose of creative freedom.
Keep it Ongoing.
Everyone is eligible and encouraged to submit a project, cause, or wild idea that just might fuel more creative fires. The idea box is always open, nothing’s off the table, and we’re always looking to top our last great idea. The next great one is certain to line our hallways, stream on our screens or clothe our backs.
I can’t wait to see what our teams come up with next. I know, without a doubt, I will be amazed once again.
Scott Seymour is the Chief Creative Officer, VP of BFG Communications. http://www.bfgcom.com. Scott brings 20+ years of leading award winning marketing campaigns for fortune 500 companies, in every major category, across all mediums. A creative visionary. Part entrepreneur, collaborator, design aficionado, technology junkie, problem solver, idea champion, and brand builder — always on the hunt for what’s next.