At April’s Marketing Network event we had the pleasure hearing Bob Mytton talk passionately about the importance of side projects and in particular the benefits he, and Mytton Williams, have seen from his latest side project; Jazztypes. After working in the design industry for over 25 years, Bob Mytton had started to ask himself; what makes us creative and how do you constantly develop fresh ideas?
Bob admits he’s no musician, but he really enjoys jazz and it was while sitting at a couple of jazz concerts he started to think about how he could best represent the music graphically. That’s when the idea hit him. He would take 100 different jazz musicians and over the course of 100 consecutive days create one hundred pieces of art.
At home, he started to compile a list of the top jazz artists and set his creative brief: each poster should be a graphic response to the artist and their music without using photography.
Each morning he selected an artist at random. This way he could concentrate on just one artist at a time. After work, in the evening he would spend an hour putting pen to paper. Sometimes they were good. Sometimes they weren’t. But that was never the point. He was able to analyse his process and judge when he was creative and when he wasn’t.
With each new day and each new artist Bob learnt a brand new lesson in creativity
Look for connections - on day 1 he pulled Oliver Nelson’s name from the hat, an American jazz musician and composer inspired by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra during a trip to Japan. Nelson’s inspiration became Mytton’s as he created a poster with a striking red record on white background. Throughout the project connections like this often provided him a great starting point.
Do your research - a late night home on day 19 left Bob with just 30 minutes to produce his poster. He already knew a little about Joe Pass, an Italian-American guitarist, so he set to work creating a strong, graphic poster based on that. The next morning he decided to listen to some of Joe’s music and found that it was elegant and sophisticated not at all like the poster he had produced.
Keep pushing - on day 42 Oscar Peterson helped him to learn a problem isn’t necessarily solved by the first solution. Sometimes a better solution is just around the corner. Be persistent.
Play is important - the Art Ensemble of Chicago are an avant-garde jazz ensemble most notable for their multi-instrumentalism. On day 50, Bob did some research and found out that they once took 500 instruments on a tour across France. Changing his habits and allowing himself the time to explore an artist or subject without fear of failure meant that Bob was able to find new ways of tackling the challenges of getting all that personality on to the page(and have fun at the same time).
Embrace failure - a lot of ideas don’t work out. But that doesn’t matter. If you are scared or worry about failure you cannot move forward. Test and share new ideas whenever you can.
What started out as a little bit of fun developed into a body of work that has won 3 design awards, had four exhibitions, been published, and raised the agency’s profile nationally, but most importantly their side project has created new and exciting work opportunities.
At Deep Blue Sky we like to think, like Bob Mytton, we’re a bit different.
We take time to find new and creative solutions to our clients’ challenges. We truly believe that everything is possible. For us, side projects are much more than a hobby or something to pass the time, they are true indicators of what we are capable of building and constantly push our team and our clients forward.
In order to give us time to work on these projects, we work a four day week. On the fifth day we just focus on projects we enjoy and which ultimately, make us better at our jobs. Here are just a couple of examples of our side projects:
This is a simple web based app that tracks your web browser's ability to support the more advanced features of CSS and HTML5. It’s useful because of the way it presents its findings, making testing very easy for geeks like us.
twiDAQ is an online stock exchange game where players compete to gain virtual capital and level-up to gain exciting rewards. The game works on many of the same principles as a real stock market, utilising statistics from Twitter to allow people to trade fantasy shares in celebrities, companies, TV shows and more.
Our latest side project, Achieve Awesome, is next generation project management software. It’s simple interface makes it easy to complete projects on time and on budget. You can sign up for beta access now and get updates on our progress.
Our advice to anyone thinking about their own side project, get started now!
We’d like to say a huge thank you to Bob Mytton for an inspiring talk and congratulations Mytton Williams who are celebrating their 20th birthday in 2016. You can find out more about the project here.
To get tickets to the next event here: http://www.marketing-network.org/upcoming/