I am pretty sure Tony Kaye doesn’t use the word innovation.


So, this is about how I think we are making creativity a dirty word and a meeting with Tony Kaye, the director of American History X. Lately, I have noticed this strange discomfort for some in our industry when it comes to using the word creativity.

Instead of using the word, creativity, people seem far more comfortable with the word innovation or my favourite, solution. Is it because these words create the illusion of certainty?

Unfortunately, that’s not how creativity works whatever you call it. Steve Jobs had the Apple Lisa, Macintosh TV and the Newton before the I-Pad. Even the great ones have so called mistakes.

Our industry is full of slogans about mistakes, risks and failing harder but very few of us actually live up to the words. When a business craves certainty that much, there is no room for experimentation or the unpredictability of creativity. When this happens people grasp for the first idea and mediocrity becomes your friend.

There is a real danger that as we constantly scrub away the madness of creativity we move towards the most middle of grounds. This is something I learnt from meeting Tony Kaye.

These thoughts had been bouncing around in my head when I went to judge the Axis Awards. I had heard about Tony Kaye, the mad director. We would spend the evening talking and he told me the craziest stories about Marlon Brando giving acting classes to him and Michael Jackson.Yet as entertaining as Tony’s stories were, something else struck me about him. He seemed like a very passionate and honest man. He seemed incapable of not being true to what he believes in. Win, lose or draw. I found it refreshing.

After all the trials and tribulations he had been through, he had an unwavering belief in creativity. Not innovation, or solutions but mad, bad and dangerous to know creativity. He believes in imperfection, mistakes and magic. It was a valuable lesson for me at a time when our industry is in such a state of flux and bullshit. And the lesson is a simple one. Interesting, beats perfect every time.

Published by dbs81270

Chief Creative Officer The Monkeys New Zealand

2 thoughts on “I am pretty sure Tony Kaye doesn’t use the word innovation.

  1. Nice observations.
    This strikes me as the same fundamental as your post on intention.
    And the analogy of the North Star. These things are imprinted and therefore can’t be contrived. They just are. Like being left handed. Hard if you’re not. Effortless if you are.
    But the world is about emulation, and so agencies, clients, people, motherboards – all try to attain the adjectives of innovative, creative…
    However left handed it all might feel.

  2. I had the pleasure of working with Tony for several months. He was by far incredibly refreshing. He taught me that we as artists have to look at things as if we are seeing them for the first time like through a child’s eye, and figure a way to present the idea to others so they too will see it in a fresh new way. He held to that theory like a barnical on a ship.

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