National Geographic Magazine has been published for 121 years and hasn’t changed its cover design or format for as long as I can remember. The magazine can be picked out at a distance at any bookstore, newsstand, or other venue where magazines are sold. One of my friends has collected the magazine for the preceding 30 years—they are stacked uniformly in neat rows by date in his basement. Brilliant creative design has sustained the publication through decades of the American and global experience.
Upon opening the latest issue, the reader already knows that timely articles illustrated by world-class photographs and graphics will appear upon its pages. I always read the articles and admire the ads from cover to cover. True success.
In 1993, I founded a theater company in Omaha, Nebraska, as a fundraising arm of the Nebraska AIDS Project. Our mission was to create awareness of the AIDS epidemic through the medium of live theater by informing, educating, and inspiring patrons from a cross section of the potential audience base. We titled the enterprise “Support the Nebraska AIDS Project” and graphically created a design banner using the acronym SNAP. We added an exclamation point to differentiate the company from others with SNAP in their names.
I’m pleased to report that SNAP! Productions is alive and well and still flourishing in Omaha today. As it grew, it gradually disassociated itself from the Nebraska AIDS Project and incorporated itself as a separate nonprofit organization. Eighteen years later, the appearance of the masthead logo on advertising copy tells readers who have attended SNAP! offerings that a unique theater experience awaits them. The theater company continues to tell stage stories of individuals overcoming bias, isolation, and discrimination, while promoting diversity in very positive settings. I used copy that spoke to “theater as therapy.”
In our daily experiences, as we travel the path of personal and professional living, we are constantly called to action by visual and written advertising. Some we automatically file away in some part of the brain created for that purpose, some we take in through a more conscious part of the brain that processes the information, while some force us to stop and marvel at the creativity, which is being revealed before our senses.
Brilliant Creative Design in Action:
What is creativity? Is it a mysterious quality, like genius, that is present at the birth of each individual? Is it reserved only for the artist, such as a Rembrandt or a Mozart, and cannot flow into the essence of us, who are not blessed with an artistic flair? Why does the use of the adjective creative lift the thing being observed into a higher realm of existence? Why does the creativity label appear to be out of the reach of most mortals—an attitude that relegates us to a level of just being satisfied with what we assume to be our skills and talents?
Let me assure you that if you are informed, you are creative. Creativity, I believe, is a blossoming of information. The more you know about people and their environments, the greater becomes the understanding of their natures, and “what makes them tick.” With such essential acquired information, the better you can appreciate their attributes, and the more expressive you can be in recounting their strengths. On the flip side, the better you know their weaknesses and what to avoid.
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