CR Blog

Bob Gill on how to have a good idea

Advertising, Graphic Design

Posted by Eliza Williams, 19 March 2012, 12:03    Permalink    Comments (11)

Last week D&AD held a President's Lecture in London that brought together three greats of the creative industries: Bob Gill, Sir Alan Parker and Lord David Puttnam, to talk about their early careers in advertising and the founding of D&AD (which is 50 years old this year).

While much of the evening was spent reminiscing on the trio's time in advertising in London in the 1960s and 70s, Gill also offered up a piece of pithy advice for those working in the industry today, on how to get a great idea. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it involves creatives turning their backs on the persuasive influence of sites such as YouTube and getting out into the world.

"When you get a job – say an ad for a drycleaner – many images come to mind, we all have preconceptions," Gill said. "My suggestion is to forget every image that comes to mind, forget everything you know about drycleaning.

"Instead of sitting at your computer, and looking at books, go to a drycleaner, and sit there. The way to get an interesting idea is to go to the source. Stay there until you have thought of something interesting about drycleaning. Then, listen to that idea and it will design itself."

Upcoming D&AD President's Lectures include talks by David Bailey, Sir John Hegarty and Sir Terence Conran. More info is at


Brilliant advice. Now I just need to the agency I work at to give me an Audi to drive until I get an idea.
2012-03-19 12:55:11

Now I can easily justify my year travelling the world instead of getting a 'real job'; I'm looking for a good idea. Cheers Bob.
Joey Dean
2012-03-20 06:04:08

'go to the source'... good sound advice.
Nothing like going to a customer's premises to get a feel for what they are.
2012-03-20 11:51:12

Brilliant advice, particularly if your clients are Agent Provocateur! ou saucy advice Bob!
Javier Garcia
2012-03-20 13:02:35

The Audi dealer will let you drive one of their cars if you can act like you have the cash to buy one.
You can travel your own town as a tourist would.

Unfortunately, you have to be creative to be creative.
2012-03-20 13:42:53

'that's the way to do it'
I have been creating brand identities for more than 30 years
I don't ever look for ideas. Instead I get involved with the client company ...then when I least expect it the ideas just pop up.
Martin Warnes
Martin Warnes
2012-03-20 15:50:26

It was a good night listening to the discussion and that was the quote of the week for me!
2012-03-20 18:16:34

He's right y'know. Ain't easy just looking, and waiting, but it's the best way..., - allows for surprises, and that's the really intestesting bit. If you're lucky, you end up going "wow!" That's all it's about.
gordon thompson
2012-03-20 20:14:46

Like so many things in life, ideas come from experience.

To quote Jimi 'Are you experienced'?
2012-03-20 21:36:34

Hope I get to design a porn logo soon.
Ken OBrien Graphic Design
2012-03-29 16:13:27

Yes, and no. He's right, sort of.

My problem with that approach would be that I'd almost definitely start redesigning the laundrette.
da bishop
2012-05-18 15:24:49

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