Three Questions For... Brendon Guthrie

Brendon Guthrie, Creative Partner at Mr Smith

What inspires you?

Reading better writers, eavesdropping on strangers’ conversations, music, dark beer, the ocean, sparsely populated landscapes, unfamiliar cities, anything handmade, the inevitability of death and lately, my bank manager.

What do you look for in a Creative’s book?

Anybody can come up with an idea, but if you want to get paid to do it, you have to be equally passionate about turning the abstract into something concrete. That’s why I look for skill (or potential) in writing or art direction. Advertising-related or not, it doesn’t matter. I know ‘Creative’ is now the broadly accepted description rather than Copywriter, Art Director or Designer, but in more than a quarter of a century, I’ve met maybe three people who are genuine all-rounders. The rest of us need to collaborate. Pick the craft that feels like the most natural way to express your ideas and spend the rest of your life chasing the mastery of it.

What does ‘creativity’ mean to you?

You only have to Google great artists, inventors and thinkers who died in obscure penury to be reminded that truly original ideas are rare and usually born well before their time. As a commercial artist, you need to be able to produce the goods on time, every time, so creativity’s mostly about rearranging your influences in ways others don’t. I never really got my head around physics at school but one thing that did stick in my brain was the bit in the first law of thermodynamics that talks about how energy can change form, but not be created or destroyed. I think the process of commercial creativity is a lot like that; we take existing references that are familiar to the masses and mash them together to make something that looks, sounds or feels new. And that’s not denigrating what we do; to paraphrase Tom Stoppard, if you get the right references in the right order, you can nudge the world a little.