The creative process, and how to cultivate it

Classic quote alert: “Inspiration does not always strike when we need it!”

In an ideal world, if asked for an idea, we would be able just to pull an amazing technique out of our head and astound the world.

The reality, however, is that ideas, or techniques, take time and patience to develop and perfect.

Research plays a huge part in this; whether you’re attempting an adaptation of a classic technique or pursuing an interesting lead from an unplanned outcome, developing or nurturing an idea is key

Inspiration is all around us – the changing of the seasons, buildings, art galleries, street fashion, nature or the past, for example. Everything you see, hear and smell can evoke an emotion.

I like to gather everything together. I keep a notebook to store notes on formulas I’ve tried, doodles of hair I’ve created, pages torn out of magazines…. I just want to get it all down on paper as quickly as possible so it won’t be forgotten.

I admit this is quite a primitive way of doing things nowadays. Mobile phones can store photos, notes and voice recordings – but I find they are harder to look back over. For the same reason I prefer reading paperbacks on holiday, as opposed to staring at a Kindle.

Everything that we see, hear and use today has come from one small spark of an idea, which has been thought through, nurtured and perfected.

For example:

Take these two classic pieces, the Chanel No5 bottle and watch: simple design with clean straight lines. The inspiration must have come from somewhere right?

You can clearly see from these two pictures the influence of Parisian streets on the design. I have it on good authority that these were the streets surrounding Coco Chanel’s apartment.

So you can see it’s pretty straightforward and doesn’t have to be over-complicated.

Let’s have a look at how this could be transferred to hair…

So you have been asked to do a show/shoot and you have an idea; it’s only small but that’s a great place to start. You need to build on that. How do you do it when one idea has to translate into 16 models all requiring different looks?

I have a process I go through when developing ideas, which goes along these lines (working through these questions will help build a bigger picture):

  1. What does it sound like?

Is it loud or quiet? A whisper or a scream? Loud can conjure thoughts of bright, bold colours, whereas quiet could be delicate, pastel tones.

  1. What does it taste like?

Is it savoury or sweet? Fruity or meat? Again, these can translate into, sweet being pinks and blues, whereas meaty/savoury could be more browns and reds.

  1. What day of the week would it be?

Is it a cold, wet, winter Monday morning? Or a sunny summer afternoon?

  1. What would it feel like?

Rough or smooth? Would it be heavy or light when you pick it up? This would give you ideas of texture, possibly for styling

  1. What mood would it be?

Happy and upbeat? Or miserable and depressive?

  1. Which celebrity would it be?

Like clients, linking to a celebrity can build a bigger picture of attitude and feeling.

Going through these questions and writing down all the words that come into your head will give direction to your thoughts.


Pop Art
Brief: 8 looks needed for colour shoot
Idea: How colour can change the mood of a picture
Inspiration: Andy Warhol’s print of Marylin Monroe


What does it sound like?

Velvet Underground – Warhol’s in-House band at The Factory; quiet and folksy, but at times leading to erratic screeching.

What does it taste like?

An everlasting gobstopper – a constantly changing flavour.

What day of the week would it be?

Sunday. A day off, a lie-in, lunch out, drinks in the evening, possibly a club; starting slow and ending fast.

What would if feel like?

Wax. Solid when cold but when heated turns to liquid, smooth to the touch.

What mood would it be?


Which celebrity would it be?

David Bowie. Constantly changing and reinventing


Following the questions helped us to expand an idea and bring it to life. Next time you are putting together a concept, try it, it helps me and hopefully it will help you too.