The Impact of Creative Thinking on the Creative Process

With the passing of Steve Jobs came an onslaught of praise for the genius behind the clarity and artistry that are the hallmarks of Macintosh. From simplifying home computing to the palm-sized world of the iPhone, and whether we are Macs or PCs, each of us has been impacted by Apple. As we continue further into the 21st century and into the 75th anniversary of Godwin next year, we asked our seasoned Creatives how their jobs were affected by the onset of the Apple epoch.

Group Creative Director Tal McNeill started his copywriting career on a typewriter. His first computer was a Tandy that took four discs to run. Running spell check took yet another disc. Despite the fact that booting up took 15 minutes, Tal says the computer sped up the writing process and allowed him to work “out of this time zone”—an important advantage to him as a freelancer. Last minute changes could be made and sent much more quickly than with a typewriter and fax machine. A man ahead of his time, Tal had a “brick” cell phone and a mobile fax machine. If he had to, he could load his bulky but somewhat portable computer, printer, fax, and phone and work out of his car. And then the Macbook was released. Not only did Tal no longer have to wait for 15 minutes of boot time or for a series of discs to load, but he could more easily work from anywhere, “without so much heavy lifting.” And still does—on his Mac.

Peggy Heckler, also a copywriter and group creative director, landed her first advertising job, “pre-computers” and recalls those days with appreciation for the artistry involved: “I remember the magic art directors and designers spun when they created hand-drawn and hand-colored layouts that were truly works of art.” Although she says that extraordinary work is being done on computers—”things not necessarily possible before computers”—Peggy sometimes misses the “emotional connection” that really came through a creative process done almost entirely by hand. Before Macs became the standard tool for graphic designers, type was set by hand, by specialists dedicated entirely to creating fonts and putting the writer’s words on a page. Many typographers “were artisans in their own rights, and layouts had to wait until type came back into the agency. Type turnaround in 24 hours was fast!” Now, a talented designer can produce multiple layouts in that same period of time; layouts that are so polished, it’s necessary to remind clients that they’re “roughs.” And writers can rely on greater ease and speed in editing copy and making changes to long-format copy projects. There’s a new emotional connection to the work through computers, including the Mac laptop Peggy uses every day: “My laptop has become such a valued writing and thinking tool, that if feels foreign to approach a project without it.”

Studio Artist Cheri Magee was also swept into the rise of Macintosh. Cheri started her career in graphic design as a paste-up artist for a clothing sales catalog. Cheri was initially “scared” of the changing technology when her boss set up the company’s first computer system. Before computers, handmade type, images, and other art were pasted in layers onto a board and then photographed (and often re-layered and photographed again) in order to produce, for instance, a single listing on a page in a catalogue. As far as Cheri had ever known, computers weren’t especially efficient for creative arts, but after moving to a new town and a new job, she had to teach herself how to use a Mac. She remembers seeing every one using the new computers to “do all their work on the tiny screen, for hours at a time,” instead of sketching ideas onto paper and thought she’d never be able to get used to such a change. But she did find a balance between the two worlds and has “been using Macs ever since.” Now, her first job doesn’t exist anymore, but unlike the tedious work of a paste-up artist, Cheri uses a Macintosh to do all kinds of creative work. And she still uses traditional advertising tools—like pencils—to sketch out ideas.

As for the power of ideas, no one paints a clearer picture of the impact Steve Jobs has had on a career than GodwinGroup President of Digital Marketing Glenn Owens. Glenn responded to this question with a question of his own: How many people can look at their lives and know the exact moment or event that put them onto a particular life path, ones they’re still travelling today?

Click here to read Glenn’s {GodwinBlog} post about Steve Jobs and Macintosh getting him “kick-started” into graphic design and the digital marketing work he does now. Be sure to leave a comment and check out the rest of our website while you’re there.

Please send any feedback, suggestions, or questions about the newsletter to Our GodwinGroup team would love to hear from you!

Stacye Rinehart
Group Creative Director

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