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Creative Process Q&A: Senan & Pansy

Creativity & Innovation

Together, Senan Lee and Pansy Aung are Salt & Pepper Creative, a freelance creative team who have worked on campaigns for P&G, Wired Magazine, McDonald’s, Kellogg’s and Playstation. They also create art – we have featured their first work, The Diving Bell, throughout this Q&A. The thinking: for anyone who comes up with ideas on a daily basis, the act of putting on your own ‘Diving Bell’ is the time you use to discover, search and generate ideas. Its windows are your visual eyes to the world. The air space is where you have to think – your lifeline to survival.


Do you follow a creative process?

S&P: The process for creative teams is quite simple really; we talk a lot about things and throw ideas between us, so you have to be fairly comfortable with who you work with. When we both get excited about something it’s generally a good sign.

Do you use any tricks or techniques to come up with ideas?

S: We like to drink coffee a lot! Usually we’ll jot all our initial ideas down as quickly as possible and visit them at the end of the day along with the others that have taken hours to develop.

P: During brainstorming sessions I think aloud and discuss everything with Senan. My method can be quite annoying to some as my ramblings might not go anywhere but I like to keep things loose in the initial stages. I find these chats tends to give the most surprising results – ideas that still make sense as you’ve talked through it with someone and not just random thoughts that popped into your head.


How did you develop your idea?

S&P: We were just talking about what it’s like to be ‘advertising creatives’ one day and we came up with the diving bell analogy. We thought it’d be nice to share with the wider world as the feeling of giving yourself pressure to come up with ideas on demand should struck a chord with a lot of people.

Did you get any feedback or test your idea on anyone? Who did you ask?

S: We only showed the Diving Bell to the people who owned the premises of the locations we wanted to shoot in.

P: I’ve spoken to my friends about it while we were making it and no one really understood it as it’s quite a visual concept. It’s one of those ideas that might sound silly until you’ve seen it for real so we just had to trust our instincts and bring it to life. Being confident with your creative judgement is key in our job.

What was the hardest part of developing your idea?

S: The construction was a lot more difficult than we anticipated, designing and cutting it was fairly straightforward.

P: The idea came quite naturally as the subject is quite close to our heart. The most challenging part is to bring it to life. We want it to be done properly so great care was taken in the construction of the sculptures and where they would be shot.


Tell us about an idea of yours that didn’t work. What happened?

S: 99% of what creative teams do is unsuccessful in one way or another, learn to embrace that at Art School or you’ll perish in the real world.

P: Most of our ideas do not come to fruition, as a working creative you have to learn not to be precious with your ideas and move on. Most of the time is not the idea clients are opposed to but the budget or message they want to say so I don’t take any rejections personally.

Where / when do you feel most creative?

S: For me it is the 15 minutes between getting in to bed and falling asleep. If I start thinking about ideas then, I usually can’t get to sleep for a few hours.

P: I need to either be alone with nothing urgent to do for a few hours or talk with a fellow creative mind to get my mind wandering.

Does technology help or hinder creativity?

S: Helps you, hands down. You can learn almost anything now, for free. The only thing stopping you is your laziness.

P: For me is always about the idea and not the technology or techniques involved. If there are new innovations that will help me realise it then I’m certainly more than happy to try it out.

Do you use group brainstorms? If so, how do you run them?

S&P: Within agencies you will often have ‘brainstorm’ meetings, but everyone there wants to be top dog, coming in with their own opinions and political agendas. Some people in these situations are not use to being criticised or having ideas rejected on a daily basis, so their attitude can make these meeting quite unproductive. We’d always prefer to work in our team as we’re used to it and our only goal is to come up with good ideas and nothing else.

What’s the biggest challenge facing creative people?

S: I still think it’s money. The ‘Arts’ in general are seen as a luxury not something we need. As long as this attitude prevails, people will always have to struggle to bring creativity to the world.

P: The preconception that creative people live in their own world. I have a very systematic, even logical approach to creative thinking and that sometimes surprises people. Oh and that I’m not just watching watching rubbish on Youtube, I’m doing research!

Can creativity be taught?

S: I think this is a devious question. Creativity can be taught by some form of guidance by someone who has already achieved it, so the craftsmanship and skill of creativity can be taught. Though the drive within oneself to want to do creative things is up to you.

P: Yes, not so much as in taught but encouraged. Once you acknowledge that there are infinite ways to achieve to solve a problem then you’re on the right track.

Who is the most creative person you know?

S: Difficult to pin point one person, London is full of extremely creative people.

P: Well the most creative person I know personally would be my grandfather. He’s a lawyer by trade but if he had a chance he would have become a full time poet. When he was present he wrote everyday and I think that speaks for itself.

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