6 Tips for Creative Concepting When You’re Quarantined Away From Your Partner

Creatives around the world share their advice

Creative concepting, historically accomplished in a room together, has suddenly become a remote task.
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Key insight:

Some of the best creative ideas are dreamed up after hours, days and even weeks of creative brainstorming and collaboration. But how does that work when most of the agency world is scattered into quarantine?

Creative partners who once relied on face-to-face chemistry have been pulled apart—but the pressure to develop big ideas for clients and pitches hasn’t been lifted.

Adweek asked veteran creatives around the world to share their experiences and advice on how to keep the creative juices flowing from home—even in the midst of a global pandemic.

Look your partner in the eyes

Your creative partner, that is. Many creatives spend scores of hours together each week, and it’s important to try to keep that relationship alive.

“We’ve made it a point to keep interactions face-to-face whenever possible. Every meeting, regroup, catch-up, brainstorm session—no matter how big or small—is done through Google Hangouts,” said Ryan Engelbert, creative director at We Are Social New York. “It’s forced us to be even more focused on each other and more accountable for the information and ideas that are being exchanged.”

Awkwardness can be a good thing

Engelbert’s creative partner and fellow creative director Casey De Pont recommends creatives embrace the occasional awkwardness that comes with video calls, since you never know where such moments may lead.

“Video chat still feels awkward to us as humans,” Du Pont said. “There’s a lot of pressure for maximum productivity and zero wasted time when you’re digitally staring each other down, but creative development doesn’t work that way.”

Interruptions and broken flows can sometimes be beneficial, even if they don’t always feel like they are in the moment. They teach us that video conversations can be just as imperfect as having a long collaborative session in the real world.

“You need the awkward pauses and the space between ideas to let things breathe and develop. The more we can be real people in the virtual space, the more comfortable we’ll become working there,” she said.

Enjoy having the space to think

Time spent alone means there is time to really think on your ideas and consider them before throwing them in the ring. You can also, as Droga5 copywriter Gabe Santana points out, make the most of being able to say some really bad ideas out loud without anyone being around to hear them.

“I think the best part about working from home is that I can lie down on the floor and say bad ideas out loud without bothering anyone,” Santana said. “Except Germany, of course.”

That would be Germany Lancaster, Droga5 art director, Santana’s creative partner and self-proclaimed homebody who has warmly embraced the shift to working from home. Lancaster prefers to brainstorm alone and mull it all down to a few good concepts “before meshing ideas” with Santana.

“Once I’ve got a couple ideas down, I like to either present them to my partner in a deck or chat through them in hopes that they springboard into something grand. Chatting through ideas always leads to lots of laughs, so that’s definitely a bonus,” Lancaster said.

Build or strengthen your partnership

You’ll already know your creative partner and other close colleagues well, but you can use this time of working remotely to really strengthen—and possibly test—that relationship.

For Ludovic Miege, copywriter at Havas Paris, working remotely hasn’t been too much of a problem so far because he and his creative partner, art director Jordan Molina, have worked together for six years.

“For us, working like this is not very complicated because we know how to work together and do not need to see each other to work,” he said. “We can call each other all day long using Facebook, Whatsapp, Gmail, Zoom. We have many ways to communicate and exchange our ideas.

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