Where do ideas come from?

It’s a good question. And, as a creative studio, it’s particularly interesting to us. We’re all full of ideas but our creative processes vary. As this blog shows, our lightbulb moments can strike at any time — via a hardware store or through an African hyena.


Katy, designer: I usually have to draw it out in my sketchbook first, to help visualise an idea (the more creative the job, the more illustrative my sketchbook becomes). A while ago, I scanned in drawings from my sketchbooks from over the years and have used them on my website homepage – there’s a screen-grab above.


Kelvin, designer: I come up with an idea in lots of different ways, but for some reason I often seem to end up in hardware stores looking for visual metaphors. And no, I don’t do DIY. I’ve also got an archive of scrapbooks where I can usually steal an idea or two when I get a block. Failing that a good whiskey helps.


Ben, writer: I blow on a vuvuzela. Or ask the badger.

photo (6)

Amy, writer: I write lots of notes, usually just lists of words, in a really scrappy notebook that’s actually getting a bit embarrassing. That’s quite boring isn’t it? I end up with a few pages of mostly bad ideas. But hopefully, there’s at least one that’s usable. I like to start thinking about stuff early in the morning and ideally, out of the office – and that usually means on a train. And if all else fails, I stop thinking about it. I look at and listen to stuff that I find interesting, and hope for the best.


Matt, Creative Director: I’ve always tended to get ideas while travelling between places or in between doing things. At University it was walking home from the studio at the end of the day. Now’s it’s either commuting on my bike to work or going for a walk at lunch time. I went on an obligatory time management course last year which I thought was going to be all about spread sheets and list but it was actually focused on how to work productively which was really useful. One of the things they talked about was how different people process information differently – by seeing it, reading it, writing it etc. One of the more surprising ways was that some people are good at processing information while doing physical activity which was a bit of a revelation. I always thought going for a walk or cycling to work was a good thing but now I’m much more purposeful about it and make sure that I find time to do it. There’s something about not focusing directly on a problem but having it in the back of my mind while I’m doing something else which seems to work for me. PS: This photo isn’t me cycling to work by the way, it was taken in France but it’s the only one I have on my work computer!


Janine, Designer:  Ideas just pop into my head in their entirety. I put it down to my spirit guide who I think is an African hyena. (She is serious, by the way)


Joe, Account Manager/musician: When writing a piece of music, an idea really can come from anywhere – a clip from a gig on YouTube, a paragraph from a book (Cormac McCarthy is a personal favourite) or, as happened last December, wandering into Paddington station at midnight and recording the sounds of a brass band playing outside WH Smith. And if in doubt, I resort to my small arsenal of guitar effects pedals – it might not lead to anything concrete, but chances are I’ll stumble across a new sound that will inspire something further down the line.

ideas - train

Niki, Head of Stories, Film & Photography: I get my best ideas on my daily commute. Apparently it’s physiologically proven that to get good ideas or to solve big problems, you need to be looking out of a window or standing in a field…. your mind is literally opened by the space. Sitting in front of your screen is great for spreadsheets but bad for having ideas. So I am most creative when cycling to the station or gazing out of the train window.