engineering, surrounding, listening, eating

Finding Creativity: Clive Piercy

Finding Creativity is a guest posting series where I invite people to explore how they find creativity in the world.

I'm pleased to introduce Clive Piercy who is based in Santa Monica, California. Please tell us, what is your design profession and the major focus of your work?

I am primarily a graphic designer and creative director. After 20 years running a medium-sized design office, I came to the conclusion that small is good and opened Air Conditioned, with a view to working with the kind of clients that I feel best suited to: creative companies, on projects large and small, with people I get on well with and respect. That last point is very important to me.

When you look for inspiration where do you go to find it?
This is a bit like the question I get asked by students more than any other..."where do you get your ideas from...?" My life and work are inextricably linked, there is no distinction between the two, and I am interested in all of the pure and applied arts: architecture, film, fashion, painting, photography, writing and music. I say all, but to be honest I'm not big on poetry and I struggle with modern dance. I have difficulty taking it seriously. It's the tights! I think it important to give yourself the best chance to be creative or productive, by engineering the right kind of work environment, surrounding yourself with beautiful objects, listening to stimulating music, eating great food and generally not getting too uptight about things. After 30 years I'm beginning to believe that I can actually do this for a living. Funnily enough, I don't look at a lot of other graphic design, I prefer the influence to come from a more distanced perspective... that's why I read a lot. Words force you to make up your own pictures.
When you think of venturing out to find creativity in the world where do you think of going?

I love lateral thinking. Something that you are familiar with represented in a new way. I work unashamedly in the mainstream, but I try not resort to mainstream solutions. Wit and humor feed my soul, and I love things that look effortless. Of all the artists and designers that I look up to, Paul Smith, Tibor Kalman, Tim Hawkinson, Underworld, Philippe Starck, Bruce Weber for example, the vast majority of them can be characterized by the fact that even though they produce profound work, it is clear that the element of play is never forgotten, and is often close to the surface in their work. I try to do that too.
What have you always wanted to redesign or recreate, and why?
I love product design, but I don't have the patience for it. Making a change to a design and then having to wait for months to see the results drives me nuts, and I cannot do it. I also love football (soccer to you...) and I think I could make improvements in the team outfits that they wear, along with the graphics and insignia. My dream job would be to redesign the identity for a major cultural institution that I have a deep affection for... perhaps the BBC or the National Trust in England, and over here maybe the.... can't think of any over here in the U.S., maybe NPR... though they don't appear to have much regard for good design.

Name something we can do to expose ourselves to something outside of our worlds, outside of the bubbles and environments we inhabit?
Well, "exposing ourselves to.... " is easy. But I don't think that's the point at all. It's much more important to know the difference between looking and seeing. And to love what you do. To conduct a dialogue with yourself, and to indulge in the act of introspection. To act with grace and consideration, and try to look on the bright side. I always say that doing all that miserable-looking, angst-ridden work is easy... try doing work that brings joy to peoples' lives. That's MUCH harder. Laughing helps, too.

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