Bringing fresh new ideas to a project is often one of the main parts of being a creative director but when your typical ways of working are turned upside down, it’s time to get experimental. Sharing insights and challenges from one half of the creative double act, Britney Beeby and Harriet Stockwell, widely known as Brit and Harri, we spoke to Harriet about the creative processes, structuring projects for success and singing Disney songs to help keep her sane during lockdown!
During the pandemic, stressing about the lack of work, I made sing-along-videos to Disney tunes, dressed up, acted them out and posted them on social for others to sing along. Sounds ridiculous, but sometimes getting ridiculous helps get you out of the funk.
Having first gone freelance in 2017, Harriet had previously worked as a permanent art director but dipped her toe in the freelance pool alongside working full time, causing an imbalance with her work/ life. Since discovering YunoJuno in 2018, Harri and her partner Brit, quickly recognised the benefits of working on projects via the platform which she kindly refers to as;
A total game-changer. Now if a client is not running their brief through YunoJuno, Britney and I always encourage them to. Just makes payment and management of contracts and clients seamless.
We asked Harri to share with us 3 key features that work really well on creative projects, in which she shared;
3 elements for me are not based on a specific project but more general that I find if these are implemented any project will run smoother.
Whilst not every project will run this smoothly, Harri shares the elements that herself and partner Brit look for when working on a creative project;
- Firstly a thorough brief. We think this should come as standard but let me tell you, a good brief is rare. Britney and I always go through the brief with the rest of the team first, take it away, digest and then shred it apart for any holes. We go back with a list of questions and only once we have all the information we feel can help us solve the creative problem, then we get solving.
- Secondly, a debrief. Again, this comes standard but the old agency structure of a ‘traffic’ person who filters the briefs and feedback before they come to the creative is gone. So either accounts or clients come directly to creative with a whole bunch of feedback that has not been consolidated and a lot of the time, not written down in a structured debrief.
- Thirdly, before any job, an agreement on overtime in writing, better yet, within the contract. It is common for people in our industry to work late hours, with ridiculous deadlines, we have yet to work on a project that doesn't over burn (Over burn is an industry term for a project going over the hours initially quoted for to the client.)
Talking of burnout, we then asked Harri how she has maintained and encouraged her creative processes over the last two years with so much change in ways of working;
Stepping away from the everyday job and doing something that sets my soul on fire. For me, it's musical theatre, for someone else it may be a walk in nature, painting or writing. I found I was getting into a real funk towards the end of last year (2021) and whenever I get into these states I go back to the things that bring me joy. That is generally what I used to love as a child. Singing, acting, dancing, the triple threat, lights up my face, so I signed up to do a musical theatre course.
As with anything creative, the end product or results are often open to subjective criticism or feedback, something Harri says she handles by;
Breaking it down, we discover they’re just people who want to do their best job for their bosses. Once you understand that, it helps not to take on their projected pressure but also how to help bring them along the journey so we relieve some of their stresses. I've always found when clients are brought along the journey of the creative process we get far better outcomes.
We then asked Harri if, in her opinion, there was something clients could change when working with freelance creatives, in which she shared;
In order for clients to change or be better, we need to educate them on the creative process and perhaps through that, a better trust can be built between creative and client. Most clients aren’t creative, and they sit in different spaces coming up with their deadlines and rules without communicating with the creative. If we can have conversations before projects get briefed so processes work for both parties, we would find happier clients and creatives.
When it comes to sharing her own experiences and advice to someone considering a career change into the creative space, Harri simply says;
Ask, ask, ask and ask again lots of questions. Don't feel like any question is too dumb. Also research. Part of every creative process is research and through research can bring up more questions. No one knows their brand better than the client, so even if they present a vague brief, they do know what they ultimately desire for their brand. Try to get to the bottom of that through conversations with them.
And the best advice Harri has heard so far;
'It's not open-heart surgery.’ I think Britney may have mentioned this, but it does help put things into perspective when you get all stressed out. No one will die if the deadline is missed, if the logo isn't in the exact right place, if you need to stand up and say no.
Another piece of advice Harri shared with us is something her senior Art Director told her when she was just starting out as a junior;
Never leave set without having said everything you wanted to. Often with time crunches and so many voices on set we don't say or try something that sits in our minds and then we go home and run it over and over in our minds. Creativity is still about play, don't forget to play, if you want to try something, say it.
If your project needs a creative lift, why not book Brit & Harri to help inspire some creativity- and hopefully sing some Disney songs, too. Book them here.