How To Improve Creative Thinking Skills. Interview with Qubstudio Art-director
A face-to-face meeting with a client. Client presents their pain points and product ideas. Everyone listens attentively. A gentleman with a sketchbook, pencil and a yellow hat doodles during the brief. The moment presentation is over, this man presents 3 creative brand ideas with messaging, logos and symbols painted in his sketchbook.
Victor oversees branding and art direction at Qubstudio. He is a trusted creative professional who takes responsibility and care of his design teams.
With more than 13 years of experience in design, Victor has worked on the most valuable projects of the Qubstudio. His expertise and commitment to visual arts have allowed him to be one of the most recognized local artists.
His 1-year challenge to paint a different banana every day has just come to its end and we’ve decided to interview Victor about how to develop creative thinking.
Victor, how did you realize you’re gonna work in design?
It’s natural, I think. As I was a child, whenever I didn’t wanna do something, I just started painting. I was painting at home, at school (making some of my teachers a little mad because of it). However, I did like physics (especially, the lessons on light) geometry and algebra. Because I was always painting, friends started asking me to paint something for them. A logo for example. Design is probably the only career I’ve ever seen for myself.
How old were you when you made your first logo design?
Hm, I believe it was for House of Culture Ivano-Frankivsk when I was a first-year student. I was 16 or something. The logo had 4 silhouettes trying to get into one stamp. I painted it in 15 mins and it’s been used for quite a long period of time, but I don’t think it’s still live.
Did you get paid for your first logo design?
How long does it take to design a logo?
Well, that’s a tricky question. If you already have a good idea it doesn’t take much time, maybe a few hours or a day. But really, the time it takes to find this idea would vary depending on too many factors.
Would it be fair to say your main task as a creative director is to generate ideas?
Yes, and also to stimulate all other team members to generate high-quality ideas. Being a flying solo doesn’t take you far. It’s important that every team member involved in the project steps understands the client’s business and steps into his shoes.
To generate ideas, you need to stay inspired and motivated. How do you do it?
I’m an easy case when it comes to inspiration and stuff. I get satisfaction when I generate ideas. When I don’t do it, I don’t get that satisfaction. Kind of obvious, but totally enough for me.
You mentioned it’s also your responsibility to motivate the team. How do you do it?
We hire motivated people (laughing). But seriously, I believe people are motivated by default. It’s fear that blocks that motivation. And this fear comes from not knowing how to complete a task that you have to do. So the best way to motivate the team is to spend a lot of time revealing subtle nuances on how graphical instruments, colors, composition convey certain emotions.
Tell a bit more about challenges. When and why you started challenging yourself?
Well, since my student years I’ve loved challenging what’s possible to do. I mean, if someone said ‘It’s not possible’, I’d automatically love to try and do it. And, come on, if I failed, I’d say ‘Ok, it’s really not possible. I checked.’. But I also sometimes proved them wrong. That’s kinda cool.
One of the designers I worked with introduced me to his graphic challenges. And it’s true, his first attempts weren’t of a particularly high level. But as you look at his works made later, there’s an obvious, significant improvement in quality.
And that’s when I thought. ‘Ok, I’m gonna do it.’ What’s the worst that can happen? In the beginning, someone would tell that I was at a low level? Ok, I accept it, there would possibly be nothing holding me back anymore. I’ll do it consistently. Because when you work and learn consistently, there will be serious progress. There’s no way you can go wrong if you’re patient enough.
What were your rules for the 365 banana challenge?
The main one was that it has to be regular and not interrupted even once.
I’ve set time for myself. Like 15 mins per illustration, there should be one constant symbol. Each image is pained in square dimensions, vector graphics because it should be easy to post and possibly place on some merch after it’s over. It just has to be a content I can leverage after the daily posts are over.
I was looking for a symbol that is familiar to almost everyone across different cultures. And I just had a banana on my table (laughing).
But seriously, new things are created by taking something that’s well-known and putting it in a new situation. So each time I transform a banana, it’s something new.
365 days is quite a lot. How did you manage to keep up the consistency?
Well, in an ideal world I’d paint and post every day. But, the modern world is so dynamic. So I planned a few illustrations ahead, sometimes around 7 and then scheduled them to post on Instagram. Most of the time I took a 1-hour session per week to generate ideas and another 1-hour session to execute those ideas.
What’s more important, is that you’ve got to have that image flow going all the time. Go on Pinterest, track trends, go on the street, take that bus, visit that shop and always watch out for unusual things around you. Pair the incompatible things. If you only take the ideas from the inside, you’ll run out of ideas very soon. With the information streams these days, the amount of ideas you can generate is infinite.
At any point, did you think of giving it up?
Well, I did get crazy fed up with bananas at some point. Everyone is sending you some banana photos and stuff. But somewhere at the equator, I thought, ‘I’ve already spent so much time with it. It’s already too late to give it up’.
What about your network. Did people around you support your challenge?
Nope, not even a single person. Most people have never done anything like this. Some told ‘Well, ok, try it. It’s your life’, some were trying to persuade not to promote it because they thought that would be a shame if I stopped somewhere in the middle.
It was kinda disappointing, of course. Now what we’ve got now is another cool side-effect of this challenge. During this year we’ve grown a culture of design challenges at Qubstudio and I can clearly see how this is developing our UI/UX and graphic designers.
Now that the challenge is completed, what do you think it gave you?
First, the most valuable upgrade is the ability to generate ideas faster.
For example, often times when we start a new project, we get a time/budget limitation. Within these limitations, we spend quite a lot of time gathering and analyzing the input information. And this is essential to work for the right purpose. With this knowledge, we quickly generate and approve ideas with clients. Due to budget limitations, we often have quite a short time allocated to idea generation.
Afterward, we start the execution. The quality of execution significantly depends on how good the idea was initially. Eventually, we don’t have a lot of time to generate ideas, which raises the importance of fast and strong idea generation. Therefore, advanced creative thinking training plays a crucial role in the final delivery for the clients.
Second, I raised my own quality standard for creative thinking. Within approximately the first 2 weeks of the challenge, all dull ideas got exhausted and I started finding something fresher.
And it’s just 2 hours a week, one movie if you think. Absolutely worth it.
What would you recommend to those who want to challenge themselves?
Don’t hesitate. Not trying is worse than failing. And you don’t have to be a designer to challenge yourself. Copywriters can generate slogans, Marketers – special offers of service packages, Entrepreneurs can generate startup ideas. This is endless.
Think of this as a gym for your mind, can anyone do it? Most people can. But most people would also give up after a month or two. And to get a visible result you need to train in a gym around 2-3 times a week for at least 6 months.
What’s next in your plans?
At the moment I’d probably be challenged with public speaking because I’m going to do a series of lectures locally on developing creative thinking skills. I’m also considering doing an exhibition with bananas and possibly making some merch with them.
Let’s see how it works out!
Stay tuned 🙂