Christophe Pierre. One half of designbySPIRIT, the husband and wife team that offers high-quality visual solutions across print and web. Over 10 years’ experience in graphic and web design. A Consultant and Art Director.
According to Christophe, their “clean, signature projects have set tongues wagging and as we are proud of our work, we figure why bore you with the chit chat? Let’s get straight to business – click through our website and if you would like us to capture the spirit of your next project, just get in touch.”
How do you define creativity and what does it mean to you?
Creativity to me is the vehicle for imagination. Imagination is the random little sparks of ideas that float through the minds of any human being and creativity is the ability to come up with a way to bring those random ideas together and make them something real.
How much of your creative ability do you think is innate? Or is your creativity a skill that you have developed?
God is a creative being and human beings having been created in His image are naturally born with a certain amount of both imagination and creativity but some have certain skill sets that amplify it. I don't know the science of genetics but my Grandfather was a hobby artist my Mother is very creative from decorating to various crafts and my other grandfather created amazing furniture. I was able to draw anything I saw as far back as I remember.
But this skill was raw and I had to first realise it was important and begin to nurture it.
When did you realize that you wanted to express your creativity?
Was it encouraged by others (e.g., parents)?
My Dad is heavily technological and mathematical so I loved computers and was given access to them at a very early age. I was always trying ways to create stuff on computers. Two pivotal moments made me realise that I wanted to express my creativity as a career and they both could be traced back to two founders of 'A Big Box Of Crayons'.
(1) I was helping a friend Jamie Thomas with his club night and saw Dhano Mc Nicol who was working for Ogilvy at the time, finishing up a flyer for the event. That was the first time I saw a Graphic Designer at work and I remember thinking 'I want to do that!'
(2) I did a short course in Web Design at BorderCom. Rawle Murrell was the teacher and partway through the course I remember him telling me that he thinks I could do this for a living. I told my parents this and with their encouragement I quit my accounting job a month later and left for London.
What is your standard for evaluating your own creative work and the works of other people? Do you think that monetary rewards can be compatible with creativity in general? Are monetary rewards relevant to your own work?
I evaluate my creative work by the emotional response of people to it. I think at the end of the day, this is the only thing that counts. That's how people purchase products, that is why they follow calls to action and that is why they buy into art, music, films etc.
I think monetary rewards can be in direct conflict with creativity. When the need to get paid via satisfying the client stands in the way of creating the best project possible. But it is relevant and cannot be ignored. I do find that as I progress in my career clients are giving me more and more room to move.
Do you think your own perception and evaluation of your creative endeavors are influenced by the views of other people? What role do you think the culture that you live in plays in your creative efforts?
Definitely! I do mainly client work so the needs of my clients and their clients is paramount and their views carry quite a bit of weight. Culture was a major factor in my development as a creative. Living in London gave me more freedom as a person to discover who I was and express myself more freely in everything from my personal fashion to my hobbies and the places I frequented. That freedom was then transferred to my work. Had I still been in Point Fortin my work would be... LOL!!!! Ummm... different.
What do you do when you experience a creative block?
Get on a Plane. Travelling is my vice. I cannot stay in one place for too long. Travelling takes my mind off work but allows me to stay creative by sight seeing, thinking, people watching, photography etc. If I am in Trinidad, a quick trip to Tobago works wonders. I just booked a trip yesterday. LOL! So far I have been to France, Scotland, Switzerland, Holland, Austria, Italy, Germany, Hong Kong, Australia, Slovakia, all over the US, Canada and the Caribbean but my love affair with Tobago continues...
How do you make the leap from a "Spark" in your head to the action you produce?
Talk to my wife. She is my boss but also my muse. Chatting with her gets me verbalising what's in my head and then someway through that conversation I will just stop talking and jump on the computer or grab a piece of paper.
Do you have any special rituals that you do in order to achieve your creative goals?
Nope. Unless you call a morning coffee addiction a ritual, not really.
Has your creativity changed stylistically as you have matured?
If it has changed, please explain how. Definitely. I am much more aware of the need to just leave something alone. Over-designing or over-developing an idea is a sure fire way to bury the message. That habit has been chipped away over the years. I have become more confident in 'finishing'.
What has been the greatest sacrifice that you have made for your craft?
Well, I had to focus in order to not be a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. I ended up shelving a promising career in music management in order to focus on the aspect of design that I am currently involved in. I had to come to the realisation that I could not do both at a professional level and pick one. I'll get back to it though.
Who or what has helped you to persevere and not quit?
I remember when I was in London working doing filing and reception in a graphic design studio. I was doing five hours a day at £5 per hour then using my evenings to understudy jobs. It was getting quite hard and I got a part time job. My Mother advised me not to take the part-time job as it would slow down my rate of learning. I followed her advice and 6 months later my boss offered me a fully paid design position.
Do you believe that it is important to be accepted by others as being creative or is just doing what you love to do enough to justify your work? Explain.
No, I don't really need people to see me as creative. It would help though as it would explain some aspects of my personality, and help them understand me more, but I just love my job. People's opinion of me is irrelevant. My close friends have a pretty clear picture of me and support my creativity.
Has rejection ever affected your creative process? Explain.
As a graphic designer, you learn to deal with rejection early up and grow really thick skin. You learn that not everyone will connect with your idea in the way you did. I now try not to get too personally invested in an idea that has to pass through multiple people. To strike that balance between enthusiasm and impartiality so that I could sit with a client and clearly judge a concept while being comfortable with the fact that it may not be the 'one'. This is still an ongoing struggle.
Looking at what you have created in the past, would you change anything today? Why or why not?
Not really. You have to learn to be proud of everything you did in the past, even the things you may think are mistakes. I think at every stage of my design career, I did the best with the tools that I had.
Have you ever doubted your talent? If so, how did you work through your doubt?
Aaaahhh. That's a tricky one. I am usually really confident about my talent. The only time my confidence takes a knock is when I compare myself to people in the wrong way. In this social media driven age it is easy to get up in the morning and see work from other designers that's pretty awesome and borderline unreachable. You could easily use that to fuel excellence or fuel insecurity. I bounce between the two sometimes but I would like to think I stay on the excellence side.
What piece of work are you most proud of? Why?
That changes quite a lot but right now it is a wedding invitation I created for a beautiful couple and was given the freedom to choose a lot of things, from paper to print finishing and I created something fresh that even I had never seen before. The bride-to-be kept sending me these screenshots of people's reactions when they received their invites in the post. Remember what I said earlier? That "I evaluate my creative work by the emotional response of people to it". This was the best example of that statement playing out real time.
Have you helped or mentored anyone else? Is there someone that you see that you would like to Mentor?
My wife and I mentor another couple who work in another creative field, we have Skype meetings with them every now and again. I also work closely with my God daughter Keziah Lendor who is absolutely awesome!!! Check out her blog at www.kezblogs.com. Check out her feature here to as well.
If I had a choice to mentor someone it would be my 13 year old niece Danya. She has so much natural talent and creativity. Her skill set reminds me of myself at her age. She seems to have picked her future career which is not design but if she ever decided to pursue a design related career, I would want to be first in line to be mentor.
To a young Creative emerging in your field, what advice would you impart unto them?
Digest as wide an array of creative material as you can.
Explore the globe and experience [different] culture[s].
Maintain integrity no matter what, remember when you steal that photo or font for your design project you hurt another creative so do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
And last but not least - Work hard and play harder.
What would you most like to be remembered for?
I really want to do projects that change lives for the better. Pro bono charity work mainly. Once I am in position where I don't have to work to live then I could choose my projects based on the impact it could make on humanity socially, economically and spiritually.
If you were a crayon, what would be the name of your colour?
Black. Is there a black crayon? It's been a while. Yes there is. So black.