The Creative Element of Surprise!
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The Creative Element of Surprise!


The Creative Element of Surprise!

In many a strategy session, as each step is being carefully considered, you’ll hear the phrase, “We don’t want any surprises.” While I understand that as it relates to the unexpected events that can derail even the best laid plans, when it comes to our creative process, a surprise is more often akin to a happy accident, something to be embraced and utilized to the fullest.

Some level of risk is essential in any creative endeavor, so it’s not surprising that studies have shown that creative types tend to take more chances along the way. In my line of work, we expect and welcome the occasional surprise. Don’t get me wrong, we always make a point to listen carefully to our clients’ ideas and hew closely to the message they need to communicate. But we also allow ourselves a little wiggle room for the occasional happy accident.

You often hear of novelists who, when they sit down to start a new book, have no set ideas on where the characters might lead them. Thankfully, it’s the same with design. That’s one of the reasons why, when working with clients in the early stages of a project, it’s sometimes best to avoid locking in firmly on key concepts and ideas. The process is sure to take on a life of its own, and the end result will benefit from the unexpected surprises that pop up. 

Effective design is a living, breathing process, unfolding and evolving as it moves along. Some of my favorite design elements over the years have been the result of mistakes that jumped out and revealed themselves as revelations.

A recent example came in the form of a mark I created to accompany a logo designed for a new startup transportation company. Utilizing a capital “V” (the first letter of the company’s name), I created a wheel with the letter serving as spokes. Sitting back to admire my efforts, I realized that I had inadvertently formed a perfect little star at the hub of my wheel. Surprise!

Crafting designs that help clients effectively spread their message and maximize their impact is the serious work we do every day at Cronin Creative. But that work would be a lot less interesting and not nearly as much fun without the wild-and-wonderful element of surprise.

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