Believe in what you are selling, otherwise they won’t buy it: Amilcar Guevara Torija on creativity, ego and ideas.

We sat down with Amilcar Guevara Torija, Freelance Creative Director, about creativity, believing in yourself and more importantly — your ideas.

“Creatives generally suffer from constantly wondering if their idea is good enough.”

How did you get your first creative role?


By profession I’m a graphic designer but one day I switched into advertising and studied a master's degree in art direction. Then I started looking for jobs and a friend of mine at TBWA in Barcelona told me of a role that was meant to be only a cover for a month — I ended up staying for five years!


What advice do you have for creatives who are just starting out?


You need to be resilient, and you need to be constantly trying to get what you want. I think the old school of thought was to work hard and not have a life — but I think that is nonsense. Even when you’re starting you need to find balance or else you will burn out pretty quickly. 


Another important thing to keep in mind is to stay curious and to be always searching for what you're after — because when you start you rarely know exactly what you want, that was my experience anyway.


Do you have any tips for anyone starting out who has to present their idea?


In order to sell an idea you need to believe in that idea. I think this advice would have helped me a lot early on: truly believe in what you are selling, otherwise they won’t buy it. I think presenting is underrated in our industry — at least on the creative side — but it’s essential as you need to sell ideas at the end of the day and convince people that your idea is best.  


Have you experienced creative block and how do you get over it?

Every single day! With the current brief I’m working on, I find myself staring at my screen in the most annoying way. The way to unblock it? It just takes time, and I honestly find staring at my screen until it unblocks itself a form of meditation that makes it eventually go away. I’m very good at staring into space!

How do you describe your creative process?


A mess. I need time to digest and what frustrates me a lot about myself is that I have no idea what is going on up there [gestures to head] half the time. I want to believe the romantic idea that I was inspired from an early age by my parents who were really into their art, music and literature and I was just soaked it all in, but really I have no idea. 


I do get a sense of flow, and there can be crazy days where ideas — good, bad, mediocre — all appear at once, but I don’t know how to control that at all or what really brings it on.


How do you know when a concept is right?


It usually relies on being rigorous with the other parts of the process. For example I am a firm believer in the importance of strategy in acting as a complementary part of the creative process.


Strategy is in my view a different way of being creative, and being strategically minded requires a degree of creativity to work. So a creative concept is right when you tick the boxes of what (theoretically) a client needs — with those needs being identified through a strategic perspective.


Is there too much freedom when it comes to a brief?


I don't think there's such a thing as too much freedom — at least I have never experienced it. If there’s one thing you can always rely on it is someone in the accounts team reeling you in and bringing you back down to earth and back towards the needs of the client. So for me there’s never been a danger in the brief being too free in that sense.


What would the ideal brief look like to you then?


I think for me, the ideal brief is one that has already been pushed through that strategic lens, and requires that creative twist to make it pop. So not a brief that just reads: “the client needs x and y” but one says the “client needs x and this is why”. That’s inspiring, and gives you the direction and the tools to start thinking really creatively. 


How do you define creativity?


I think there is some misconception that creativity has to do with creative jobs. I completely disagree with this premise. I think you can be an extremely creative economist for example or better yet just look at scientists — if scientists weren’t creative we would never have invention or progress. 


I've seen amazingly creative people in different fields and so for me, creativity is just a way of being able to look at life through a different lens and the ability to be able to jump from one way of thinking to another. For me, that's creativity.

What is your biggest strength and weakness as a creative?


I like to think I’m good at putting myself into the shoes of different people. I know that I can never truly be in their shoes, and that I’ll always have a bias of some sort — but I try my best to be free-minded and able to put on different hats.


At the same time though, I sometimes hold myself back by being overly rational — which is maybe why I like strategy so much. But reason can sometimes stop the creativity from flowing. 


How do you keep your ego in check?


I don’t think I really have to keep my ego in check and if I do it is only in the sense that I don’t have enough of it. 


I believe that creatives generally suffer from constantly wondering if their idea is good enough. And the ones that are overly confident their ideas are the best tend to be quite average —at least that's my experience. Most of the time creatives — the one’s I’ve met and also in my own case — are very insecure in what they do.


When you're creating a campaign or content for a specific platform, how important do you think it is to be active on that platform?


I think you need a good understanding of the audience, but I don’t know if that means you have to be active on the platform. Sometimes these two things are of course linked — you get one from the other — but really you just need to understand the audience and their motivations as to why they spend time on that platform. 


Realistically we all have our own experience when scrolling down. Some people might spend more time on the platform but that doesn’t necessarily mean they understand the audience. Being curious and open-minded enough to be able to put yourself in the shoes of the audience is the main thing.


Curiosity is king then?


Completely, I’ve seen young people who feel very old just because they are not curious. In this industry, there’s an impression that you need to be young to be relevant. That’s wrong, the secret is to stay curious.


Thanks Amilcar!




Amilcar Torija

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