It’s All About The Idea

In the stack of books I bought over the weekend, I found this quote in Complete Digital Illustration: A Master Class in Image-Making by illustrator Paul Burgess:

“The idea is king. Once you have a strong idea, everything else just flows along behind it.”

As I have toiled and worked to establish myself throughout my career, I have been told many platitudes regarding what comes first: technology or content.


  • Real designers use a mac / PC / Linux
  • Real photographers use Canon / Nikon / Hasselblad / film
  • Real filmmakers use RED / Sony / Panasonic / Panavision / Nikon / Canon
  • Real coders use PHP / Ruby on Rails / C / C++ / C# / Java / Objective-C


  • Post once a day / once a week / once a month
  • Always write / draw / take photos / shoot experiments
  • Having a social media strategy will solve all of your problems / Twitter / Facebook / Google+ / LinkedIn

Reality: “Idea is king”

Without ideas, my work lacks soul and a voice. It becomes yet another website, postcard, photograph, video that litters the garbage dump of creativity. I must constantly develop a reservoir of ideas that I can draw from as I work. How do I do that?

  • Read anything I can. The latest round of books that I have read include Bone HandbookScott Pilgrim Volume 1Value-Based Fees, Imagine, Lean Start Up, The Physics of Superheroes, Wired for Culture, The Art of Drew Struzan, Screw Business as Usual, The Education of an Illustrator, Design as a Job, and The Rise of the Creative Class.
  • Watch a lot of movies and television shows. I draw inspiration from a wide-range of movies and shows such as Arrested Development, The Cartoonist, Brave, Ted, Time Bandits, Brazil, Hugo, The Adventures of Tintin, Psych, Moyers & Company, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Chopped, and Cabin in the Woods.
  • Always listening to music. Metal, mash-ups, jazz, blues, pop, rap, it’s all good, especially: Girl Talk’s All Day, Wax Audio’s mash-up albums, Rush’s Clockwork Angels, Avenged Sevenfold’s Nightmare, Linkin Park’s LIVING THINGS, Within Temptation’s Black Symphony, Evanescence, B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Metallica, and Slash.
  • Spend time with others. I love listening to other people talk about what they are doing in their lives. From good to bad, I get ideas and inspired by the actions of people around me.

This is how I generate ideas, it works great for me, but what works for you? Do you embrace time to generate new ideas or is what you know good enough for you?

By Chris

Curiosity builder. Creative instigator. Spiritual explorer. Filmmaker. Podcaster. Writer.