Innovation is born from a solid foundation of inspiration. A core belief for me when seeking inspiration is consumption—exploring a city for its architecture and design scene, watching a film or TV with high production values, or putting on the latest album of a favorite musician. Being transported to another realm (so to speak) and immersing oneself in an environment or setting that creates possibilities for the viewer always inspires me.
I am a firm believer in finding and building partnerships with vendors inside and outside our industry. I appreciate attending trade shows and conferences, reading industry and specialty publications, and getting an inside scoop of how a business operates with their systems—these all share what people are currently doing and what capability is available to draw from. With this information you can start to make educated decisions and recommendations to your clients to “push the envelope” so to speak.
As a stationer and designer, I look at what is appearing in advertising, how digital experiences are influencing my clients’ and prospects’ lives, and how global brands are positioning themselves in a very saturated market. I source materials globally so that I have a leading edge compared to some of my local vendors who may source from the big distributors. Doing so gives me a strong talking point with clients about why I’m different. It also gives me opportunities to find new and exciting ideas, and materials and print methods that aren’t currently being showcased in an event.
Innovation for 2023 doesn’t only have to be big grand shifts in your work methods and outputs. Innovation can be incremental improvements or subtle shifts in order to edge out what your network is currently producing. It can help you set trends in an area you can excel in, finding those pockets that no one else is specializing in.
To spot areas for innovation, I look at two things. One: where am I stuck or in need of support in my processes—this can be outgrowing a tool or service I am using, identifying that I need a tool in the first place, or even just getting bored of the same work over and over again. From here, I start an extensive research phase: talking with vendor friends, my network, google search(es) and seeking out content that can answer my needs and pain points.
The other method to spark innovation is to take the inspirations I have found and start to integrate that into my proposals, putting intention out in the universe and drawing that work toward me. Winning work and ideas that push me past my comfort zone can cause radical shifts because I may find solutions to problems I didn’t even know I had! Discovery and play are huge parts of innovation because those happy accidents are often what can push a good concept into an amazing one.
I have found that if I try to force innovation, it doesn’t always land for myself or my clients. It is sparked based on insight, challenges, and being thrown off course from my end goal with that project. Be open and receptive to feedback to keep adapting and evolving the project.
To me, striving for innovation has driven immense satisfaction in my business because it is ever evolving—and gives me opportunities to try new things.