The Possibilities of Persistence

Some of the greatest works of art don’t just miraculously happen. It can take time for ideas to form and develop. The creative process today is often confined by speed. There’s too much of a hurry to get to market, as cheaply as possible. But creative persistence is vital, sticking with an idea, or giving up if it doesn’t feel right, and constantly improving what intuitively feels right to find the very best and most remarkable.

A great example of this is Milton Glaser and the I Love New York ad campaign back in 1975. The brief was to rehabilitate the image of New York City at a time when Manhattan wasn’t in good shape (crime, dirt, danger, almost bankrupt). The people wanted negatives turned into positives, to feel good about their city. Glaser solved the creative problem, presented it to the client, and it was approved. But he felt something wasn’t quite right and he couldn’t get it out of his head, until he was stuck in traffic in the back of a cab and the light bulb came on, he’d got it. Glaser stuck with the challenge and persisted with the idea and until it reached something far greater in the end. That idea he imagined in the cab has become one of the most iconic and most imitated works of graphic art in the world.

Remarkable ideas aren’t easy. You have to persist, challenge, shape, and stick with it until it gets there. The creative process needs to allow for this and encourage the free flow of thinking, incubation and development of ideas that will lead to greater creativity. If creativity is kept in confinement and constraint, you’ll reduce the chances of seeing something remarkable.

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