06/06/2022 - No Comments!

I love the smell of N50s in the morning. Smells like… victory.

The Pentel N50 Bullet Tip Permanent Marker - the king of all markers.

Cardboard, metal, wood, rubber, plastic, even glass. You name it, it could write on it. But on a bleed-proof layout pad is where it really left its mark.

Once upon a time, you could walk onto any creative floor in the land, and be instantly hit with a heady mix of diacetone alcohol and potential, wafting down the corridors.

Uncapped, the intoxicating pong meant one thing. The well-greased creative machine had fired up and work had begun. Teams were hard at it, cracking their briefs. Countless pads were being massacred, and office floors now resembled the aftermath of Wembley after England's exit from Euro 2021. Littered with the dead ideas of their brainstorming (only the best ones made it onto the wall).

A scamp had a purity to it. It demonstrated if an idea had 'legs' before any fancy-pants technique embellished it, or photographer/illustrator got their hands on it. A CD could immediately see whether the idea was engaging and hard-working enough to warrant further investment.

Some creatives had a gift for scamping. Others were bloody awful at it. But every scribble had a story to tell. A thought process that revealed whether A. you understood the brief and cracked it, or B. had to go again. It was good training and an essential part of the creative process.

But no more.

Despite the N50 remaining one of the most popular markers in the UK, a box of them in the creative department is rarer than rocking horse poo. There's simply no need for them.

All too many creatives are all too quick to jump on the mac to crack a brief. The default position is to plunder Behance, Colossal and It's Nice That. Then, command + shift + rehash to suit their own purposes.

Of course, it's a given the best and most 'original' new directions in creativity involve some act of unequivocal and overt theft. Even Picasso said 'Art is theft'. But surely, the beg, borrow and stealing bit should come later.

Thankfully, there are still those who scribble. Anyone familiar with Tristan Fitzgerald's 'my sketchbook' series, will see little thoughts and observations come to life in his daily sketches. The process of getting things out of his head and onto paper is both creative and therapeutic.

So, for all Creative Directors out there, please encourage your creatives to take up the pen (or pencil), and love the scamp again. Get them into the habit of working through the brief. To put their own ideas down first, before disappearing into the mac hole.

While you're at, get clients to value them as well, rather than insisting on polished mac visuals all the time. The simple act of a diligent creative taking a pad and trusted N50 to a meeting can leave a client in awe as they knock an ad up right before their very eyes.

A scamp has great power. It concentrates minds and elevates clarity, without being too precious. It creates a healthy discussion around an idea, and just the idea before all the fluff gets in the way.

Yes, by all means, pilage popular culture for new reference material and stylistic influence (we all do it!), but once your ideas are down on paper. Otherwise, how can you be sure you're the one that licked the brief.

Published by: Neil1969 in Uncategorized

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