Want to find the secrets of true ‘hands-on’ creativity?

Just look to the clouds



Max Itaaliander





Creativity has always been enabled by technology, writes Pixel Artworks’ Max Italiaander – but that won’t stop creatives worrying that AI is coming for their gig. The solution? Lie back and look at the clouds.

In today’s vibrant and competitive marketing landscape, where only the bravest are winning consumers’ attention and the brilliantly imaginative thrive, true creativity has become the golden ticket to success. As a witness to the industry’s evolution, trust me: it’s not for the faint of heart. Every day, new emerging technologies challenge us to adapt, evolve and unleash our creativity. So what does truly excellent creativity look like today?

It’s a fusion of cutting-edge technologies that inspire our creativity, re-apply our skills, and reinvent ourselves in new spaces. The integration of AI, the power of ingenuity, and the importance of hands-on creativity are elements that we creatives, must embrace to discover new avenues for inspiration, push boundaries and create ground-breaking work.

Staying at the cutting edge of technology is crucial for success. But the ever-evolving nature of technology necessitates continuous adaptation and reinvention. As creatives, we are constantly having to re-apply and re-invent ourselves in new spaces. This can be challenging, even terrifying. Nobody wants to go back to the beginner level, where things are new and you’re having to figure out how you can apply yourself and make the project work. But it can also be an exhilarating opportunity for growth.

Afraid that AI is going to take your job?

Learning something new can be exhilarating, albeit a little frustrating.

There’s huge fear about whether AI will take our jobs. Recently, I’ve integrated AI into my workflow – out of curiosity, but also trying to figure out what my relationship with AI will be. I’ve never worked with a piece of technology that made me feel so many different emotions as I do with AI. Most of it stemmed from my position as a creator: am I diminishing my authorship when I run my words/ideas/sketches through AI?

This sparked me to look at embedding AI creatively: feeding ChatGPT project descriptions of past works and works that I admire, to stimulate the thinking process of an immersive designer, was an interesting experiment.

Looking at AI as if I always have access to a design assistant, renderer, and spatial designer was a fun intellectual exercise that got me thinking about how I can train AI to create tangible, useful outputs for me. Which I managed to do with mixed results. Since then, we’ve been integrating generated AI imagery as references into decks, and multi-step AI-generated content for clients: a process involving AI from first prompt to last. Using AI has helped me to define my concepts more clearly, as I can run ideations quicker.

Spend time with AI to explore its potential as an asset to you. Can it come up with concepts, or copy? Can it make a deck? Can it make your work life easier?

Hands-on creativity will always have a purpose

Creativity and being creative aren’t pure intellectual exercises that you can conjure up with words and reference images – at least not for me. Being hands-on in whatever capacity (drawing stamps, storyboards, editing or working up style frames) changes the way you relate to the project and allows for ‘accidents’ or ideas to form that might not appear when you’re working up your creative arguments neatly in a deck.

I previously worked as an art director for theatre shows, where I was often also the one making the visualizations, mocking up looks from architectural models while this job could easily be done by a skilled visualizer. During the process I found myself making design decisions faster and more intuitively. These decisions were later fed back into the design process. Try drawing it up first; it really can bring fresh ideas.

How clouds can help your blank slate

In music producer Rick Rubin’s book The Creative Act, he shares his views on creativity. One takeaway is focusing on being present at the moment, with focused listening, allowing the creative moments to appear to you as clouds. Clouds are a metaphor for our creative process and the emergence of ideas. There are signs everywhere: where you should be looking and heading.

Often, we start a project with a blank slate, with the client wanting to see something they’ve never seen before. Time to freak out as you need a creative idea.

Well, maybe not. The secret to creativity and finding that idea is to not be scared, but excited. Instead of thinking about what’s next, pivot and think about what you’ve done before and what tools you have to bring it into the future. Soon enough, small bits of information, ideas or even random thoughts start appearing like raindrops and accumulate to form clouds. Once these start to form, the client often comes back with a more defined brief and the view becomes to get clearer.

Collaboration, empathy, listening and being open to where the energy is taking you are essential when working on these ‘open briefs’. This dynamism is quite a ride when you’re in it and thankfully (at times) there’s still a deadline to crystallize it all together.

We love a challenge

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

"*" indicates required fields

Accepted file types: pdf, doc, docx, Max. file size: 5 MB.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

"*" indicates required fields

DD slash MM slash YYYY
What time would you like to visit? 16:30 works best for us.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

"*" indicates required fields

It looks like you're using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser for the best experience.