David Schwen Q&A

March 13, 2019
Creativity in the social media age

David Schwen partners with brands and agencies around the world to create design that resonates. He’s worked with such companies as Volkswagen, Starbucks, and McDonald’s on highly distinctive, social media-friendly branding and strategy, bringing idiosyncratic visual style to everything he touches.

How do you keep yourself inspired?

I keep scrap paper on my desk for sketching and I try to stay open to the world around me. I’m also a big fan of coffee.


How you get unstuck when concepting?

I try to shut down my brain. I take walks.


How can you tell when you’re on to something that will resonate with other people?

That’s the unknowable question, which can drive you crazy but is also the fun of it. Sometimes you share a piece of work on social that you’re sure people will love and they don’t, and other times you post something you’re not sure of and they go crazy. You can never be sure.


Where do you believe creativity comes from?

I like the quote, “A restless mind hungers for stimulation.” I believe that. We seek it out.


Do ideas come to you in unexpected ways?

Certainly. Often it’s when my mind is turned off. A good idea will as likely come when I’m sitting on a bus or going for a drive than when I’m at work. Ideas are like that.


Is it important to you to take mental breaks?

Absolutely. It’s good to get away from your phone. Let yourself be bored. That’s an essential ingredient of creativity.


Do you struggle with self-editing your work?

I think everyone does. But you get to a point where it’s not about success or failure but just finding something you like. That’s the best you can do.


How often do personal projects turn into client work?

Every now and then, and I’m always delighted when it does. I had it happen recently with a project where I made with heart-shaped items that I shared on Instagram. Instagram contacted me and wanted me to do a whole series for Valentine’s Day. So I did and it was really fun.


Your work gets shared widely on Instagram. Which project on that platform sticks out for you?

People really liked the rechargeable banana. People enjoy things that aren’t branded, and aren’t an ad. It was just a simple video project but people enjoyed it. I like to view Instagram as a playground. It’s just a place where you can share stuff.


Do you have advice for creatives?

Remember to live your life. Let yourself breathe and take the stress out of your life. Be open to the signs of creativity. They don’t always present themselves in a brainstorm.

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