5 CREATIVE ESSENTIALS
27 MAY 2016
Maybe it’s a cup of coffee? Maybe it’s a pair of lucky skinny jeans? Maybe it’s a disembodied rubber Batman head that rests at the base of your iMac to remind you of childhood, or … of what might happen to you if you miss a deadline? The truth is, we all have a few things we consider essential when it comes to our creative happy place. And so we ask the question, What are your creative essentials? This time, we asked our fearless creative director at large, Michael Verdine.
MICHAEL VERDINE | SR. CREATIVE DIRECTOR AT MANIFESTO
WHAT ARE YOUR 5 CREATIVE ESSENTIALS?
McFarlane NFL Legends Series 2, “Mean” Joe Greene – I have a growing collection of McFarlane NFL figures, because my sons know: When in doubt, get Dad a football figure. Preferably Steelers. (They’re good kids.) Strangely, football served as a kind of entrance into the creative world for me. As a kid, my brother and I would pester our old man to draw pictures of football helmets with team logos for us. He was a great artist, and we kept all his drawings in a big binder. I remember watching him draw them out and thinking to myself, One day, I want to be able to draw like that.
An Essay on Typography by Eric Gill – When I was just starting my foray into design studies, typography was the foundation of our program. They drilled the idea of type purity and craft into us. Then computers became a thing, and the potential for manipulating typefaces and fonts was suddenly a very real possibility. Rules were being broken left and right by the likes of Emigre, Ray Gun magazine (Dave Carson), and April Greiman, all while our instructors (get this) frowned on any experiments with typography. Well, I’m glad to report that the era of infinite fonts and easy typography (and that's not a knock, by the way) is here to stay. And that’s a good thing. I keep this little book (among others) nearby as a reminder of the original craft and care that went into the fonts we know and love – and modify – today.
Post-It Notes – Hey, I could’ve easily mentioned a cool brand like, say, Field Notes. But the truth is that it always seems like I’m making little sketches, lists, and diagrams on whatever’s most handy. And in my case, that tends to be a stack of yellow Post-It Notes. It’s gone from being a simple convenience to being a pretty standard part of my creative MO. Or maybe it's just a convenience that I'm trying to make sound deliberate and creatively genius. The bigger point is, I firmly believe that if it can fit on a Post-It and communicate what it needs to communicate, you know it's a good idea. I like to think of the Post-It Note as “the original tweet.” I’m old school that way.
iPhone 5 – It’s indispensable. The 5 is anyway, at least in my opinion. It’s the right mix of aesthetics and function. As a creative tool, it’s my camera of choice, and the VSCO photo app is something I use all the time to tweak photos for mock-ups, mood boards or to give general art direction at shoots. Sometimes, I even use the phone to call people.
Reading glasses – Listen, these specs aren’t just a style choice for me. My eyes ain’t what they used to be. So my eyeglasses would have to be on any list of essentials I make. I'm one step away from adding a Golden Girls chain to prevent myself from misplacing them all the time. Because let’s be honest, my memory ain’t what it used to be either.
HOW DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION FOR YOUR DAILY WORK?
At this point in my career, I’ve kinda stopped searching for daily inspiration. Conversely, most of my energies go into quieting my mind to shut out crappy ideas.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ASPECT OF YOUR WORK?
I’m not sure this is an appropriate response to that question, but I really enjoy problem solving. It’s kind of a necessary part of creative direction. Which is funny, because I don’t really see myself as a “creative” person, per se. Not in the way one typically thinks of a creative anyway. I don’t have creative urges. I couldn’t be an artist. I’m allergic to paint. (Not really.) But the thing is, I need an impetus. Hence, design. I guess what it comes down to is, if there’s not a problem to solve, there’s no creativity. For me, anyway. [Cue widespread groans of disappointment.]
GOT ANY WORDS OF WISDOM?
Every word out of my mouth is a word of wisdom. Did you write that down? I hope you wrote that down. Because it needs to be logged somewhere. And make sure you attribute it to me. My name is Michael Verdine … V-e-r-d-i-n-e.