Gabberissue #9: Optimism

Gabberissue #9: Optimism

Words by Jess Lilley
Image by Jim Walsh

If you were to gauge the mood of our industry by our finest work, you’d see a lovely bubble of beauty and wit — and sometimes even ideas designed to make the world a better place. Even at our most day-to-day, you’d see a sparkling clean laundry and a very happy woman in white.

Effortless, positive, can-do.

Could it be that, in our heart of hearts, we are a big old bunch of well-meaning do-gooders?

Put simply: no.

To misquote Alanis Morisette, isn’t it ironic that the work we create is so full of positivity and yet our ranks are so full of rusted on cynics. And it’s easy to see why. Somewhere in the process it takes to get to that smiling woman in her laundry, we have to run the gauntlet of rejection, interference, pressure, stress, compromise, more rejection. The age old quandary of what happens to art when it knocks heads with commerce – commerce wins and an artistic soul gets battered and bruised.

Which begs the question, why do we all keep doing it? And how do we do it?

This is where January Gabberish comes in. It’s our contention that we aren’t just gluttons for punishment or simply ‘in it for the money’. Our cynicism might offer a protective defence but it isn’t terminal. Quite the opposite. Somewhere deep within all these bruised, cynical souls, there lurks an eternal optimist. A little, battle axe that keeps picking us back up and dusting us off, always with one eye on the horizon, eagerly searching for the next jewel in the junk heap.

We may be cynics, but no one can accuse us of being pessimists. Whatever is thrown at us, we find a way to convince ourselves to get back up and try again.

When thinking about this month’s Gift of the Gabberer, I couldn’t go past PwC UK ECD, Lauren Pleydell-Pearce, an Aussie made good in London and probably one of the most positive people I’ve ever worked with. It’s Lauren’s contention that designers are inherently optimistic and this month she gives us insights into how she keeps the faith.

One of the most challenging times to maintain our optimism as creative people is when we receive a truly wounding professional setback. When creative director, Tina Funder, faced one of the most heartbreaking challenges in her career, she turned to the most pure and energetic creative outlet she could find to help navigate her way back to a place of professional confidence and optimism.

Similarly, when my then creative partner and I were experiencing one of our most dire professional lows, we found the way to maintain our sanity (and some semblance of positivity) was to collaborate on a creative project on the side. For this month’s Bit on the Side, Leo Burnett CD, Malcolm Caldwell talks about his own passion project, and how he has used his professional skills to create a platform for his veganism.

Of course, optimism is complicated. And what better medium to express this complex web of emotions than through song. We are stoked to present our first recorded song, courtesy of Wunderman Thompson creative, Jason Hatcher, who has penned an epic little ditty about the highs and lows of keeping the faith, complete with a ukulele accompaniment.

Curious to know how two people who are both creative and business partners maintain their right brain left brain positivity, we asked Jane Burhop and James Crawley what they’d learned over the last 7 years of the life of their agency, Common Ventures. Their Team Talk is full of wisdom and giggles in equal measure.

Three weeks into our work year and some of you may already be finding your optimism taking a bit of a battering.

We hope the stories in this month’s Gabberish can help you reflect on what it is that keeps you strong and positive, and find ever more of that inner strength to go forth and conquer your creative domain.

Gift of the Gabberer: Lauren Pleydell-Pearce

Gift of the Gabberer: Lauren Pleydell-Pearce