Three Questions For... James Theophane
James Theophane, Creative Partner and co-founder of Theo+Theo.
What inspires you?
I find myself endlessly fascinated by ordinary people driven by a preternatural urge to create. People like Ben Wilson from my hometown, Purvis Young and Ferdinand Cheval, a French postman with no artistic or architectural training self-built an extraordinary palace in his back garden - discovered only after his death in 1923. One day on his post route he tripped over a stone and was taken aback by its bizarre shape. Inspired Cheval began walking his 18-mile mail route with a wheelbarrow so he could collect other strange rocks and pebbles; to the chagrin and confusion of many. What started as a small hobby, soon became a life project, resulting in one of the most magnificent amateur architectural structures to date; Le Palais idéal. Why? He later wrote in his journal: 'I wanted to know the cause. In a dream I had built a palace, a castle or caves. I told no one about it for fear of being ridiculed and I felt ridiculous myself.
What do you look for in a Creative’s book?
For me ’The work’ is cost-of-entry. Of course it needs to be good, smart and/or show promise etc., but what really gets me interested is when a book also invites into the creativity, passion and drive of the individual. I usually switch off when that passion is for advertising alone, but that’s likely my problem not the authors.
What does ‘creativity’ mean to you?
To me creativity is an endless (but often interrupted) drive that harnesses ingenuity, imagination and inspiration. It serves to create new and interesting things, and takes us and our output beyond that which is average. In this sense it is very much an overused word in marketing and communications, but we try.
James Theophane is a Grand Prix winning Creative Partner and co-founder of Theo+Theo. His work has been ranked in the top 7 most awarded ideas in the world (Big Won Report), has been singled out for a President’s Top Pick at the D&AD’s and has also featured in WARC100's "The 100 smartest marketing campaigns in the world". He has also won the coveted Gold Cannes Lion for Innovation and 5 Gold Effies.