…I recommend questioning everything: the media buy, the research, the whole reason the client is advertising – all of it. It’s likely you won’t be able to change anything one bit…But in the asking, in the challenging, whole new approaches may reveal themselves. Remember, the most important word a creative person can use is why. – Luke Sullivan
I can’t help but think of Lia Purpura and Wislawa Szymborska any time I read Sullivan’s words. They, too, talk about asking questions so that one is propelled into the world of “I don’t know,” the place of new spaces and patterns. It’s a way of freeing oneself from what is and what has been defined in order to explore what could and possibly should be.
It isn’t that Sullivan or the other two are suggesting a rebellion; asking “why” isn’t a sign of that. It’s simply a way to rid oneself of preconceived ideas and notions. It’s the desire to dig into the proposed problem and ensure that that problem really is the problem. It’s to push against the boundaries of defined limits to ask if those limits really are as far as one can go.
Sometimes the problem has been identified. Sometimes the boundaries are clear and cannot be transgressed. Sometimes the client won’t want a new perspective. Sometimes, the work has to be turned in so quickly that an in-depth questioning can’t occur. Sometimes, the answer to the questioning already exists in the proposed answer.
That doesn’t negate the need to question. Ending up where one started or didn’t start isn’t a waste of time. It’s the way of ensuring one is on the right track, of staying motivated while doing the work, and of being able to answer the tough questions that are sure to come when the work is reviewed by the creative director or submitted to the client.
What do you think? Is asking “why” important?
Image: John Logan (CC BY NC SA 2.0)