Creative pioneers: What are the biggest barriers to making creative work?

What are some of the obstacles that limit our creativity? Here we speak to Caroline Pay, Jim Sutherland and Zia Zareem-Slade about the things that come in the way of making creative work

CR is launching its first online training programme. Mastering Creativity will help unlock your creative potential, whether you are a professional creative, designer or commissioner of creative work. Additional expert insight for the course will be provided by our creative pioneers like Caroline Pay, Jim Sutherland and Zia Zareem-Slade, who have shared their insights here.

Caroline Pay, Joint Chief Creative Officer, Grey London

The biggest barrier to getting creative work made is confidence. We are too responsible these days. Creatives these days are too responsible. They take on a lot of the responsibility of the team and the client so we are not so rock and roll or ‘F*ck that’ than we used to be. Confidence in selling. I think the account teams are less confident sales people than they used to be. That used to be a rock star: a hustler. I don’t see many hustlers anymore. I think clients have less time, less money and therefore less confidence to take risks.

Jim Sutherland, founder, Studio Sutherl&

The biggest barriers to creativity are time. I think it is having enough time to not just think of the ideas but reflect if they are actually any good.

I [also] think there is a danger of over-analysing things so ‘let’s put it all into research’ and everyone comes back…And, again, it is how research is done. It has to be done in a much more nuanced way I think.

And, actually, I think the biggest barriers to creativity is if you are not enjoying it. I think it is that forced idea, and this is work or it’s a job. I think it just means that you are going to create workman-like work. It’s not a very good phrase… But I think if you remove the joy then it becomes a business; you are knackered and you charge from meeting to meeting and stuff like that, that is not a good place to be creating stuff. We all need to get back to the art department don’t we and muck about a bit more.

Zia Zareem Slade, Customer Experience Director, Fortnum & Mason

Time, curiosity, inquisitiveness, skills. I think the best creative work is done when people have a natural interest in the world around them and we don’t all have the time, always, to just go out and just observe, watch and be curious. So, making that part of what we all do is pretty important. I think people can. I think being risk averse is probably the biggest blocker to creativity: overthinking something; layers of bureaucracy to get something through can whittle an idea that was once brilliant down to something that kind of doesn’t resonate, once you’ve had everyone’s opinion. Being too risk averse and process-driven can actually kill great ideas.


Learn more about CR’s Mastering Creativity training programme

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