What is a Creative Idea Worth?

I’m going to share something personal with you:

I am always curious. Always.

I’m essentially the adult-version of that toddler that keeps asking: why? WHY? I can’t help it, I’ve always been this curious individual that is constantly seeking to learn more. At the end of the day, if I’ve learned something new, tried something new, taught someone something new, I’m thrilled! So why am I telling you this? (See I’m even being curious for you).

There are a few reasons why I decided to dust of the writing powers today.

  1. I want to tell you about this amazing and inspirational speaker that truly hit home with me recently.
  2. I want to inspire you to dig deep and find that childlike curiosity that’s hiding inside of you.
  3. I want to ignite a conversation about what a creative idea is worth to you.

So here’s how we’re going to roll today. I need you to follow the ‘rules’ of this post. Read the paragraphs in order and watch the videos before moving onto the next paragraph. Actually, listen to this song while reading it. I put it on when I want to feel inspired again. Do it now…I’ll wait. This is not to sound harsh, but rather my attempt to create a theatrical, emotional + inspiring experience while you read my post.

Here we go:

Last November, I attended the IES Annual Conference again. I always meet so many wonderful people there and hear so many inspiring speakers (more on this in another post). One in particular, really tugged at the heart strings. He was our first Keynote Speaker and was essentially the ‘kickoff party’ to our conference. Let me tell you, he got me! He got all of us! His name is Erik Wahl and he’s an artist, author and entrepreneur. To sum up, he’s amazing and kind of a big deal.

Watch this video, you’ll understand why!

Erik Wahl – Graffiti Artist Video

erik wahl

This guy really hit a home run. His sense of playfulness, his courage to break the rules and his determination to never give up on achieving goals are truly what inspired me to re-evaluate what it is I’m doing with Lighting Design here in Winnipeg.

In his presentation, he talks about post-breakfast doodling, and taking meeting notes with Crayola crayons to re-ignite that childlike creative that’s within us all! When we were all young, we really had no worries about being curious, saying what we thought, trying something new…we lacked fear! And as we grew older we found ourselves suppressing this inner-genius of ours. Why? (See. I did it again). Because of Fear. Wahl calls FEAR: False Evidence Appearing Real and it’s crippling our creativity and our risk-taking. He goes on to urge us to break outside business as usual. In my opinion, I think the worst thing you can hear from someone is “Well, we’ve always done it that way, so…”. It’s time to start looking at things from different perspectives and start accessing emotion, because that is  when we’ll truly break through our creative vulnerability.

Ok, now watch this video:

UNTHINK Rediscover your Creative Genius Video


“Genius lives when wonder wakes”.

Yes! Yes it does.

Working in a creative field that’s also based in science, I’m often finding myself tugging back and forth between these two realms. I will admit, however, that I am at my most successful when I unleash my creative childlike genius and figure out how to bring it into this world we called ‘reality’.

When I talk about lighting, I often talk about the emotional experience. I can’t say it enough, lighting creates environments, lighting creates experiences! This unleashed creativity is where I learn to translate my breakthrough ideas into projects. If we look at old school lighting, it looks at light in one dimension (ie let’s bring light into a space). If we look at where it’s going now, it’s using light as an emotional experience. This is the space between the rules, my friends! After all, it’s the emotional experiences in life that are the most memorable and pleasurable to us. Allow me to not be afraid to fail by trying this new approach to lighting design. What I may do with these failures is going to define the future of this industry…at least in some small way (bigger if I can help it).

This all brings me to the question at hand…What is a Creative Idea Worth? Let me tell you a quick story. Wahl’s presentation was not only laced with inspirational words, but he entertained us by painting on canvases right in front of us. Painting these amazing drawings of popular figures we all recognize. At the end of it all, he chose someone at random from the audience to take one home. He then proceeded to offer this person $100 in exchange to get his painting back. The audience member graciously declined as they really wanted to keep the painting. So why did this random stranger want to keep a canvas that had an image of John Lennon on it? Would this not be something he could get a poster print of at the corner shop for $10? Probably. It’s about the experience, my friends. Every time this person looks at this painting, he’ll be reminded of the positive, creative and inspiring experience he had with Erik Wahl.


So I ask you this. When it comes to design, whether it be lighting or interior (or any other kind to be honest), what is a creative idea worth to you?

Remember, when we as designers present you with a concept, it’s not something that has been pumped out from the ‘design machine’, it’s tailored to you and to how you’ll be using and feeling the space. We want to create an emotional experience for you that will make you want to ‘keep that painting rather than take the $100 bill”. We want to unleash our childlike creative genius on your project so that you’ll get something you’ll never forget. Think about it next time you’re faced with the question of how much someone’s creative idea worth to you.

Now watch this video and tell me that without imagination, we wouldn’t have some of the best things around us in the world today. Imagine.



That’s my inspirational speech for 2016.

Stay young, stay hungry and stay foolish!


Non cropped thumbnail Elaina

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply