How is your Creativity coping with Covid-19?

I thought as the Chairman of The Dots I’d put some thoughts down on the current crisis. The most important thing is; it will pass. That’s for sure. The next thing to consider is how you and your creativity cope with this lockdown. The Dots is a community of creative people seeking to share and improve their thinking and work. Whether you’re in full time employment or freelance and every option between. Our strength is our community, please share experiences thoughts and ideas with each other. It doesn’t matter how silly they may sound, they could resonate with someone. One person being helped is worth a thousand silly ideas. I’ve sort of been here before. In the early ‘70’s as we opened the London office of TBWA we were hit with the 3 day week, candles on conference tables, the country going dark and people declaring it was the end of the world. It wasn’t. But what we found is, those that stayed calm, focused on giving their clients thoughtful advice and ideas on how to navigate this partial shutdown were the ones that prospered most when it was all over. Creativity is about responding to events in ways that capture the imagination. Can you do that? We used to say at BBH ‘an idea a day keeps the sack away’. Sounds a bit harsh but it was said in jest. But it did carry a useful message. Ideas are the currency of creativity. What can you do to help the people you’re in business with or sharing ideas with? Think about the brands you work with, the companies you’re employed by, the people you share messages with. Do we really need any more instagram pictures of someone’s breakfast or another farting cat video? I’d say no. Is this the moment to re think a brands purpose? I think it is. Someone said we are now going to see the world as before Coronavirus, BC and after, AC. What will the brands and companies you work for look like after all this? Will they need to change, will they need a new brand purpose? Let’s start the debate now, and share your thoughts. Again, think community. Yes, please let’s share things that make us laugh, that can be good for our soul, good for our community. But this could also be the time to look at your portfolio, could it be better, could it be simpler, could it be fresher? As I said, ideas will change the world, not a different typeface. It must be scary if you’re self employed, what help is the Government really offering? I’ve asked John Down our CFO to post the latest advice. And of course anyone who has a clearer view on what’s on offer, please, share your experience. Use this time for inspiration, we can all learn from others. I love the work of Alan Fletcher, he was one of the founders of Pentagram, great designer with a wonderful sense of humour, take a look at him in great book ' A Smile in the Mind'. Check out Herb Lubalin, one of the world’s greatest type designers. If you’ve got Netflix watch Abstract a great documentary series on creative thinkers. Did you watch BBC 4’s The Age of the Image? Brilliant. Also, watch The Art Mysteries with Waldemar Januszczak on BBC 4. The one on Van Gough is so fascinating.
Read as much as you can, not just rolling news, that gets tedious. But articles on philosophy, architecture, business, whatever. My motto: 'Do interesting things and interesting things will happen to you' also applies to reading...! I've just finished Ctrl Alt Delete, by Tom Baldwin, look it up. That’s enough from me. In the meantime, stay well, stay good but most of all, stay home.

Replies13

  • @Sir John Hegarty very strange times. Thanks for stepping up and writing your piece, it's nice to have the reassurance. Much love to you too.
  • @Olivia Beasley Olivia, lovely seeing your response. Hope all good with you in these weird times. Much love to you both.
  • @Hannah Jones-Walters Hannah, you're absolutely right. We're going to look at how brands responded to this crisis and judge them on that. And re think many of the assumptions the world fell back on. Stay positive but most of all stay creating.
  • Hi Sir John, I feel grateful to be able to work from home, have my parents out of harms way and grocery deliver. See the unfortunate events occuring in the world through devices have made me really think about how blessed I am and I really better accomplish some things while stuck at home. New York is pretty locked down right now and there seem to be a lot of politic play going on, so really all we can do is wait. My sister is a health professional and so I am grateful for the sacrifice she makes as a duty to her community.
  • A great post Sir John, thank you.

    I normally get more creative during tough times and get lost in learning as it's somthing that naturally kicks in to avoid having to think about certain things. I do think you make great points though. I'm going to do alot more reading and studying other creatives from the past and not just in the areas I already work in. I visited the Herb Lubalin study center in NY last year for my 40th and that definately inspired me. If I had the money I'd go a study there! Thanks for all the suggestions and tips, looking forward to checking some of them out.


  • I'm one of the lucky few who are able to work from home virtually, I also have a few artists whom I can depend on to commission work, so my creative muscle is regularly being flexed. I also have an abundance of free time to chip away at my mountain of book & film/series list.
    I'm in the perfect conditions to create work - a forced creative rereat if you will - the problem is finding the motivation...

    (In love with these recommendations!)
  • Thank you for your positivity Sir John!
    I wrote this on Tuesday after getting riled by the Sports Direct story on the news. I hope it inspires someone!

    With businesses large and small seeing their doors closing and (those that can) relying on online trade and production to keep themselves afloat, the next few months are going to be make or break for a lot of us.
    Sport Direct’s misguided attempt to stay open following government guidance to close, following revelations last year that it had failed to get rid of zero-hour contracts after the 2016 scandal, won’t have done much to improve their profit-over-people reputation. But it’s not just the obvious contenders like Sports Direct who aren’t winning the battle for brand loyalty, it’s the majority of the big brands.

    With all shops closing, it’s the ones that have a face and a conscience we care about, the ones with a face and a conscience we continue supporting as our belts tighten, and it’s the ones with a face and a conscience we’ll return to in full force once we feel the tide start to turn.
    What’s more, with shipments from Europe and China limited at best, and in most cases completely shut down, our awareness of where we are buying from has never been higher. Buying local isn’t a nice to have, it’s a necessity.

    On the other side of this, marketing budgets aren’t going to be anyone’s priority. But they never were for smaller brands. And there will be even less to invest at a time when brands need it most. But we have the perfect opportunity to help. With our creative minds less stretched than they may be used to, we have the capacity and ingenuity to find new, affordable ways to keep the wave of local love riding high. Now’s the time to start thinking, start making, start helping.

    Agencies are feeling the pinch as much as the brands they usually work on are. But if we can use our time on our sofas or make-shift desks to find ways to do things differently, to work on smaller work for the smaller people, in a way that works for everyone, we can leave quarantine as leaner, stronger and more flexible beasts... And not just because of the at home workouts.
  • OMG .. John .. I remeber the 70's three day week. Coming home from school and doing my homework by candle light. We had an electric cooker so there was no hot food on those days. It taught me to not to take anything for granted .. even a light switch.

    So now I am back to basics.. I have built a mini photo studio on a table top made from foamboard. I'm using plastercine, cotton buds, nails and anything else I can utilise around the house to build three dimensional objects for my images.

    The Age of the Image has spurred me on with my photography .. or rather spurred me to back to the future. I dug out my folio work from the 90's and saw again within it my development of 'cubist / vortist photography' that agncies then really liked. I am going to build on that again and take throught o its ultimate conclusion over the next few years. Feels like I am graduating again ha ha ha ..
  • Thanks for your ideas and encouragement John. I agree that this moment will change our thinking about what clients might want and need. It' s a great time to try and find a new way of presenting ideas in a visual way.
  • Honestly it's flourishing in certain aspects e.g. planning shoots with people once the outbreak is controlled etc. But then it also leaves me in a position where I can't shoot. Thankfully I have other creative hobbies and outputs that can be exercised such as music production. I'm also finding myself look towards new things I haven't tried due to not having the time such as reading!
  • I embarked on my freelance venture a few weeks before it hit, great timing!! It has given me time to review my website and create my hit lists for when the flood gates open. I have a fantastic network that I collaborate with so although we aren’t physically together creating we are communicating and planning. Hope you are safe and well? Larry
  • I'm feeling a little bit jealous of all those people who are taking the time to read a lot, meditate, catch up on all those movies. I'm working from home and looking after one-year-old child at the same time. Even between two of us, it makes getting any work done borderline impossible. Which is very stressful, as you don't want people to think you're just chilling out when you should be working, quarantine or not.

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