Embracing the “Yes, And” Improv Principle for Creativity
by Vico Sharabani, Founder & Chief Creative Officer, The-Artery
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All the world’s a playground, and all the men and women are merely curious tinkerers. Not entirely Shakespearean, but this is the heart of the philosophy on which we have built our creative studio, The-Artery. Rather than focusing on building a precise lane for the company in either VFX, production, editorial, experiences--or today, even AI--we have instead fostered a culture of creative experimentation and constant innovation. While some believe in the notion of “jack of all trades, master of none,” applying it to creativity--where imagination is the currency--is limiting and counterproductive.
Many companies that pride themselves on “creativity” box themselves into a limited offering, but they could be better served by instead embracing the key principle of improv: yes, and. As someone who personally identifies as an “‘and’ person,” I believe that this abundance mindset inspires unrestrained creativity, instead of stifling good ideas with siloed specialties. While it is important to understand and succinctly communicate your core product or service offerings as a brand, confining that definition into limited categories will not give you the dexterity to navigate a rapidly changing marketplace.
The spirit of improv comedy lies in the magic of the unexpected, and the “yes, and” principle asks the actor to always embrace the new direction suggested by a scene partner and expand on that concept. This approach allows for a truly unencumbered free flow of ideas, allowing for a performance experience that has never been done before and will never again be replicated. While we do hope to create something more enduring with our storytelling, this ethos of artistic experimentation is essential to building an environment and culture that supports new (and sometimes bad!) ideas, constant questioning, and a whole lot of trial and error.
Creativity doesn’t happen in a narrow spectrum, and yet in advertising the journey to a “great idea” often is redirected with the need to put companies, creatives, and concepts in a carefully manicured box. I see artistic experimentation as a core foundation for building a company that is truly engaged in innovation and creativity. It’s not enough to simply add something new to an existing paradigm, to create something that is original it’s essential to bring together a group of multifaceted artists, technicians, producers, and beyond to challenge existing ideas and create the kind of friction that is necessary to create truly breakthrough creative.
In a content landscape where audiences are regularly engaging with a scripted series on their television while scrolling through ad-supported content on Instagram, multifaceted artists and creatives should be celebrated, instead of being ridiculed for a lack of direction. With the staggering pace of technological evolution that we face in 2023, “staying in your lane” will result in getting left behind. An actor who can flawlessly portray both tragically flawed and warmly comedic roles are celebrated and awarded, while artists who work across advertising, television, and fine art are deemed scattered, chaotic, or having ‘schizophrenic careers’.
Great creativity is an economic multiplier, translating into ROI for brands that are eager to reach audiences in today’s crowded content landscape. It’s time we celebrate the artists whose creative POV is informed by constant inspiration and a drive to innovate each and every day--not those that fit into clean, “safe” categories. Modern creativity is less structured or restricted than in the Mad Men era. For some it feels new. For me, it feels like home. Are you comfortable playing?
About Vico Sharabani
Vico’s portfolio includes a wide range of commercials for Fortune 500 companies such as Mercedes-Benz, Nike, Samsung and AT&T, music-videos for artists such as Beyoncé, Coldplay, Niki Minaj and Kanye West as well as creative effects on dozens of films and television projects such as Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel, Beasts of No Nation, Ocean’s 8 and Baz Luhrman’s “The Get Down” and Steven Soderbergh’s No Sudden Move - to name just a few.
Serving the advertising and entertainment industries for over 20 years, Vico is heavily involved in the management of The-Artery projects across all creative, production and technical endeavors.He is also involved with the TED community 'Ads Worth Spreading' and TEDxEast.