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Creativity Squared: Josh Stika on Why Everyone Is Creative

30 June 2022

Our Associate Creative Director and Commercial Artist, Josh Stika, discusses being an introvert with aspirations to be an extrovert + much more!

This article first appeared on LBB.

Josh Stika (right) and Nick Piper (director, left) on set in the freezing cold discussing a Ford Raptor jumping out of a plane. Photographer: Stuart Price

Person

I believe everyone is creative, even if they haven’t found their calling yet. Some of us might think we have stronger creative superpowers than others, but at our core, we’ve all got an imagination, a hunger for a positive experience, and a desire to create something larger than ourselves.

I’m an introvert with aspirations to be an extrovert – I never reach my goal of crossing over to the extrovert camp, but I believe it’s possible to make work that speaks louder than you do. That’s the place I'm happiest, collaborating with others along the way, hiding away when there’s space to, but overall maintaining a North Star that represents something bold.

It’s controversial but I believe that a little bit of jealousy provides a kick up the arse when needed - if you think the project is reaching a crescendo, go and compare it to something out there that someone else has made. Do you feel a little jealous? Good. Time to push your project one step further. Envy keeps the best creatives on their toes!

Outside of the agency world, I’m a sucker for anything tactile. Sometimes this is hard to achieve in an Instagram age, isn't it? In general, I believe that new ideas will organically form if your brain is saturated with multiple unrelated sources that probably feel irrelevant at the time. For example, my current browser history reads something like: Formed Micro-cement sculpture, how to control the weather, new LA electric fire engine, what is the Omniverse?

Product

I don’t have a criteria to critique work as it evolves. You know when to speak up if something feels wrong, or get excited when things are starting to click. I try my hardest to let go of the ‘initial vision’ of an idea. At the start of a project, most creatives have a few lightbulb moments that feel instinctively correct, but other factors then come into play – budget, brand values, evolving strategy etc. It’s important to be able to manipulate those ‘initial’ visions, re-adapt and refine them to generate a new outcome – this is what I believe creates true originality.

The aim of the game is to continue to make work that you’re proud of, something that feels like a progression on the previous project and ultimately have fun along the way.

I have to stop and remind myself that there are not many jobs in the world where you can talk about a weird n’ wonderful VR experience in the morning, and jump a car out the back of an aeroplane in the afternoon.

Image: Coffee break in Abu Dhabi mid-way through painting a 1km mural around a Women’s STEM University. With Acrylicize, Any Surface, UAE Government

Process

Research, listen, collaborate, sketch, diagram, doodle, write, highlight, underline, cross-out, circle then mark with a magic star if it’s a gooden! As a child I would sit at a table with a stack of A4 and just draw - mostly emergency vehicles - this was my inner nerd and still is!

In terms of inspiration - I think our brains need to be full of lots of juicy goodness and absorb like a sponge at all times! Then when a trigger moment arrives you’re already brimming with hidden angles.

If you’re in this industry then you’re lucky enough to be surrounded by some very intelligent humans. At Imagination, I’m part of a brilliant team, and I’m in awe of the work they do. We’re not just developing on our own, we’re listening to each other and sharing valid points of view from multiple angles which can only further refine ideas.

Press

I started painting Graffiti when I was 13, there was something in that artistic dedication that made me truly happy. Graffiti lead me to art school, art school into freelance design, and design into the agency world.

I don’t find much time to paint walls currently, but I like to think I still live by the same ethos I created when I was a teenager. Start off with some very ‘free-thinking’, commence sketching, research what others are doing and prepare before going out and painting a huge piece.

Over the past few years, the gap has widened between my personal pursuits and the output I create for brands. That’s okay because I know they are always there for me when I’m ready. Also, how old is too old to still be up a ladder painting murals? NEVER!

At present, I think there’s still work to be done to nurture our external creative pursuits away from the agency world. I believe it’s really important to remember that every single creative in your building started off their journey with a creative passion, likely unrelated to the industry they are in now. If you are a creative reading this, share your early work with your peers as it could generate the spark you have been looking for in your next project!

Josh Stika is an associate creative director and commercial artist with a street art background. He has 10 years of experience as a creative, directing experiences and content for Nike and Adidas. Josh joined Imagination as ACD on the Ford account in 2021.