Kuala Lumpur, 30 October 2013 brought together some of the most renowned creative gurus in Malaysia’s advertising industry. Titled New, Now and Not Yet: Fresh Perspectives in Art Direction, the talk featured:

Eric Cruz (Executive Creative Director of Leo Burnett)

Sanyen Liew (Executive Creative Director of IF Isobar)

VJ Anand (Creative Director of Creative Juice)

Huang Ean Hwa (Partner & Executive Creative Director of Merdeka LHS )

They mesmerised the seventy-strong crowd, as they each shared how they continue to reinvent and push the boundaries of design and art direction to create cutting edge work that is contemporary, fresh, and even ahead of the times.

Here are the highlights of the event.

Eric Cruz : Create & Destroy

“You have to reinvent yourself every seven years,” Eric Cruz told the audience. “As creative people, we need to create new stuff, and at a certain point we also need to destroy everything that we know how to do in order to go on to the next level”

How do we do this?

1.    Experiment now, not later. Always experiment in your day-to-day work.

2.    Always make and do stuff – move from talking about ideas to actually doing ideas.

3.    Walk in stupid every morning.

Reinvention is more important than ever. “Even people who are not Creative are doing interesting things ,” he shared. “There is a lot of change going on. We have to adapt or be left behind. The new advertising is not advertising. So don’t make ads. Make things that real people will love. Because it’s not about advertising, design, but about making meaningful experiences that really connect with people.

Sanyen Liew : The Art of Visceral Design

What is visceral design? It is design that focuses on creating surprise, delight or simply a response that satisfies our desire to engage. Essentially, it is getting the user to fall in love at first sight with your work. How does one create visceral design? Sanyen breaks down his work process into 4 steps:

1.    Talk about it

“Most users and designers find it hard to articulate what evokes sensation. We need to train ourselves to talk about all these little things that we experience”

2.    Experience Attribute Brainstorm

“Once we have the idea, before we actually produce the work, we go through an experience attribute brainstorm for all aspects of the project.” For a website this includes the  visual design, copy, layout, music, animation, and even the error messages.

3.    Emo journey mapping

At every stage of the user’s journey, “Come up with key words of what people feel when they do the ideas”

4.    Every little thing matters.

“Go anal about describing what you want and how do you want it to feel. Find ways to tell stories in your design”

Why is visceral design important? “As designers, it’s our responsibility to make the users’ choice worth it. We need to make sure that it is a delightful journey, instead of just making things beautiful” said Sanyen. Ultimately, as he quoted  Aarron Walter, “Emotional design turns casual users into fanatics, ready to tell others about their positive experience.”

VJ Anand : The Beauty of the Unfinished

To start off, VJ asked designers and art directors to re-think the purpose of their work. “Forget that you’re in the business of making things beautiful. You are in the business of communicating with people.” said VJ.  “The most important thing is, find the connection. And being unfinished can help with that” 

So how do you make these connections?

1.    By being relevant

“You can do something really beautiful, but if it cannot connect to the audience, it defeats the purpose of being in advertising” Instead of worrying about craft, “find the insight, find a way so that you can connect with the target audience. “

2.    By being topical

Being topical tends to go hand-in-hand with being unfinished, as “There is no time to overthink and craft because the work needs to go out fast”. You need to seize the moment.

3.    By letting people in

“You don’t have to give people A-Z because in this day and age, people can participate and be part of a campaign” This necesitates a raw, unfinished dimension to the work, but creates meaningful connection and engagement.

4.    By creating a reaction

One thing you want to do in advertising is to create a reaction. It can be positive or negative. “Being unfinished is also that. Sometimes  you just have to put things out there, without running the numbers and doing research,” and see what happens.

5.    By being simple

You don’t have to do complex work to connect with the audience. Sometimes you connect by keeping things simple.

At the end of the day, “There will always be an argument whether you want to be beautiful or whether you want to unfinished. And sometimes it’s down to the brief. But, there is beauty in the unfinished, and that beauty is the connection you make with people.“

Huang Ean Hwa : New experiments in Art Direction

Hwa  talked about the how of experimental art direction, the broad principles that have guided him over the course of his incredible career.

1.    Change your mind to change your work.

“If there’s one thing I want you to remember,” said Hwa, “ it is this :rewire and train your brain to think differently.“ Because all cutting edge work begin life as a brave idea.

And, what is a brave idea? As Hwa colourfully puts it : “It’s experimental. Rebellious. Illogical. Anti-fit. Anti-establishment. It’s a heterosexual, metrosexual, homosexual, bisexual weirdo lurking in the back of your class. So condition your mind to embrace the new, the scary, the brave, the anti-fit. When your mind is ready for experiments, you art will follow” 

2.    Study the rules so that you can break them

“I love the process of deconstruction and reconstruction so I understand how things work. ” This love was extended to the craft of art direction where he said “It’s important to study the rules, because then you can break them. Once you know the rules, bend them. Break them. And trample them to death. Find the spirit of the new everywhere else, but the obvious.”

3.    Don’t limit yourself

“As an art director, it doesn’t mean you only get to play with visuals” said Hwa. Try other mediums, including words. “I decided that I wanted to try my hand at radio (the traditional domain of copywriters),” Hwa told the crowd. He did, and it resulted in a radio ad that won the Golden Kancil in 2012.

And lastly, “Remember to experiment or die”

It was an inspiring session for young designers and art directors. So-much-so that the usually non-talkative group kept the question and answer session going for close to an hour.

If you’ve missed out on this edition of The Inside Track, it will be back for one more instalment in November 2013. The topic is Uncovering Insights, The Weapons of Mass Conversion.

This will feature an incredible line-up of speakers:

•    Andreas Vogiatzakis (CEO of Omnicom Media Group, Malaysia),

•    Chin Weng Keong (Managing Director of Saatchi & Saatchi Arachnid)

•    Shylendra Nathan (Head of Telecommunications, Technology & Government, Google Malaysia)

•    Chris Wee (Head of Strategy of SAYS.com)

•    Anirban Ganguly (Head of Strategic Planning of Havas Worldwide Kuala Lumpur)

They will share tips and tools for uncovering human insights that will capture the hearts of your consumers.

Details for The Inside Track : Uncovering Insights are as follows:

Date         :     26 November 2013

Time        :     9am-1pm

Venue      :     Auditorium, KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, No. 1, Jalan Maharajalela, 50150 Kuala Lumpur 

Fees        :     RM220 (IAA members)

                       RM320 (4As, MAA, MSA, MDA, IPRM and PRCA members)

                       RM420 (Public)

Who should attend    :    Account Managers, Brand Managers, Strategic Planners, Marketing Managers, Media Planners and Creatives. Anyone who wants their brand to achieve world domination.

For further details, or to register please visit www.95percent.com.my/the-inside-track or contact Mona at 03-2095 2995 or mona@percent.com.my