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Interview with:

Nicolas Chartier [nicolaschartier] 

How and why did you begin to be creative?
I do not believe you start being creative at a certain time in life, on the contrary. I am convinced that every single one of us is born creative. Most of us just start to lose it once they grow older. The trick is to hold on to it as long as you can by stimulating your natural creativity every day.
Your mind is your work tool. How do you take care of it?
By stimulating it with fresh insights, ideas and challenges, by keeping track on ideas I like and by avoiding negativity.
What cultural sources do you draw from the most?
The world wide web and the city I live in: Brussels
Who have your teachers been?
I'm pretty extreme on that subject: on the one hand, I'm very much of an autodidact in several domains, and on the other hand I learn something from every person I meet.
When you accept a job, how much value do you place on each of the following? Money, creative liberty, visibility, and to work with the best.
My main criterion would probably be the people, but the best is a wrong description. I could not work with people I do not like, even if they are the top of the crop. Money and the possibility to be creative in my job come in second place, keeping eachother in balance. The less creative a job is, the more they would have to pay me to do it and vice versa. Visibility comes last. It is a professional necessity, but it is of no interest to me personally.
Have you ever had a job that was so stimulating that you could not get your mind off of it?
Most of my jobs are.
"To give birth to ideas." Is this only an expression, or are there really parallels between giving birth and creativity?
It is an expression of creative snobs. Having an idea is not a life alterating experience, it is something you need to do in order to create something. Most of the time, it is part of a process: someone feeds you the elements you need to have in order to find the idea, then you find it an then you work it out. You can have a great idea, but if it is based on the wrong insight or worked out badly, it will still be horse crap.
Must someone be the leader or boss in order for a creative team to function well?
Yes. You allways need someone to take the final decision.
Do you work well under pressure?
I need it. I sometimes even create pressure for myself in order to get the job done.
How is an idea sold?
The buyer must be able to imagine your idea with eyes closed and like what he sees.
What do you feel when, after two or three years, you see an idea of yours again?
if my idea has been produced, it is a compliment because it survived time. If it has not been produced, pure frustration that someone else did manage to sell it.
Ideas can come simultaneously to different people in different places with no connection to one another. How do you explain this phenomenon?
Ideas are like volcano outbursts: they are local and visible effects of an invisible movement underground that takes place on a much larger scale.
You are as good as your last idea. Wouldn't you like to have a more secure type of work?
Yes, very much so. But then again, would it be as much fun?
Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
Not in copywriting. You need to concentrate on your reader when writing, not on yourself.
Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
I need to have many voices in order to adapt my message to the target I am writing for. But if I would have to describe my writing voice, I would called it fluid and involving.
What are you working on now?
I am writing a travel article on the African country Benin, as well as writing a newsletter for the paint brand Levis, a blog post for my advertising blog www.buzzingbees.be and an online quiz for Danone.
Please list some brand names or clients that you have worked for.
Belgacom, Proximus, Peugeot, C˘te d'Or, Danone, Akzo Nobel, AEG-Electrolux, Brussels International Tourism and Congress, Genieten Magazine, Kinepolis, Kellogg's, Kraft, Inno, L'Oreal, Nutricia ...
What do your clients value more, strategy, creativity, design, or return of investment?
Ultimately, all clients want return of investment. They have to sell stuff. But my favorite clients also pay lots of attention to strategy and creativity.
Can a bad advertising campaign sell well?
Yes it can. Most of them even do. But on the long run it will hurt your brand.
What brings you the most satisfaction: when your advert pleases your boss, your client, your friends, or your mother?
My friends and mother, because they are ultimately the ones you have to convince. If you succeed in doing that, you know you've done a good job.
Are people in advertising paid too much?
As in all businesses, some are and most are not.
Is advertising merely spam?
Yes, it is. Ultimately, spam is a message sent out to a receiver who does not want to receive that message. Even with the new methods of advertising like branded entertainment or brands as a useful tool or medium (which I very much like and consider to be the future), there will still be a hidden brand message or mere presence that the receiver did not ask for. Advertising is a necessary evil in our society, and it is our job to make it as pleasant, graceful and honourable as possible.
Do advertising festivals help to improve the industry, or are they only ways for the elite to pay homage to themselves?
Advertising festivals set examples for the rest of the industry, and thus help push it towards a certain direction. The problem is that not all festivals point in the right direction ...
Does the public buy the product or the product image?
In my opinion, it is a common mistake in advertising that consumers buy the product image. if your product sucks badly, not even the best advertising in the world will help you sell it in the long run. Once the product is good enough to compete with its adversaries, the product image created by advertising can make the difference.

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Nicolas Chartier

[nicolaschartier] Nicolas Chartier
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