Lorelei Mathias and Nathalie Turton, creative team at BMB, on what inspires them...
Lorelei says... “The only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really sh*tty first drafts. If one of my characters wants to say ‘hey there Mr Poopy Pants’, then I let him.”
So says Anne Lamott, and ever since I read that quote (I forget where), it’s been a kind of mantra to me, for all sorts of writing. Nat and I use it every time we approach a brief. It helps you to not be afraid of having no inspiration, just to get some sh*tty first thoughts down on the layout pad! And it’s also good to bear in mind once you get to scripting stage
Part of getting inspired comes from looking at the best new creative work - so we read the usual suspects – Creativity Online, Campaign, Creative Review. To keep abreast of all the latest innovations we read Andy Kinsella’s blog
. One thing we don’t do a lot of is reading purely ad blogs. Not to say they aren’t full of very interesting things - but if they’re only about ads then we tend to find they can have a counter-inspiring effect, especially if they involve people waxing vitriolic about other people’s ads. We think it’s better to spend that time writing better work. But that’s just us! The other reason is that being critical isn’t what you need when you’re brainstorming. It takes you to a narrower space in your mind. When you’re thinking of ideas you need your mind to be very open. And you need to not be afraid of being silly. We all need more silly, I think.
On that note, one of the major sources of my inspiration comes from comedy. Nat and I (try to) write sketches in our spare time. We’ve done some courses on sketch-writing
. Check out Chris Head’s courses at Citylit. And I go to a lot of comedy nights – I’d go so far as to say I’m a comedy nerd. From up and coming nights like Sketchup and Popcorn Comedy
to more established nights like Underbelly. My idols are Cardinal Burns and anything by Tony Roche or Victoria Pile (Green Wing, Smack the Pony and the brilliant, surreal Campus). And I’m not religious but I firmly believe that if there is any kind of modern messiah then he goes by the name of Armando Iannucci.
Incongruity can be a great source of both humour and inspiration. Simply by colliding two things that don’t normally belong together. Like one of the Cardinal Burns sketches
– what do you get if you displace Banksy and put him in a suburban cul de sac in Hemel Hempstead? That’s just bloody funny, and a great starting point for humour. So sometimes it’s just good to start by colliding two worlds and seeing what happens – that usually sparks something good.
What else?… Any kind of exercise for obvious reasons that it gets your brain in gear - Nat does spinning, a kind of posh cycling to music, whereas I run along the canal or do mini trampolining.
Any kind of dancing, especially swing-dancing/Lindy Hop. Check out Swing Patrol
Radio Four and Six Music. I love the Adam and Joe and Jarvis' Sunday Service.
The School of Life and their Sunday Sermons, which I went off on one about before
I LOVE things that mess about with scale. It’s often an incredible source of wit and fresh perspectives. Slinkachu
blows my mind in this respect, as does Will Self in his short story ‘Scale’
Theatre. The other day I saw an incredible piece by new dance collective Unhidden
, and they had an artist Somang Lee
performing live animation that was incredible.
Exhibitions. Everything the Hayward ever serves up.
The sheer power of ‘proper words in proper places’. I love when a metaphor is so perfectly chosen that it says much more than a picture ever could.
Poems on the Underground.
Old bookshops like Shakespeare & Co
The Trinity College Library
in Dublin which is like a shrine to the sheer majesty of old books!
Children asking randomly philosophical questions.
When strangers talk to each other.
The general daftness of the everyday often makes me laugh. Oddities in the mundane. Like when your dentist tries to chat to you but you can’t talk back because they’re fiddling round in your mouth. Or the way you can’t ever actually drink the cup of tea your hairdresser makes you. Or the busker at Angel tube who plays a trumpet made out of a Henry hoover. Little observations like that can often lead to things. Nat and I always make sure we start with an everyday truth that people can relate to, whatever we’re working on. So it’s always good to be observant (not in a creepy way, obv.) I always jot things like this down in an observation diary (a tip Chris Arnold once gave me, and something that I still do today).
Things that are self-referential often inspire me – like a piece of street art I saw the other day that said ‘Oh look, some street art’. I also love this very romantic bit of street art I saw the other day.
Any kind of chance meeting or act serendipity.
Playing the piano – there’s something wonderful about going from playing notes on a piano to hitting keys on a keyboard. It’s a lovely transition inspirationally. Also, generally, classical music is the best music to write to, I find it really helps me concentrate.
Pithy quotations can be hugely inspiring. Lately Tottenham Court Road tube has been putting up one a day as you leave the turnstiles, and I have to say it’s bloody brilliant. They’re always spot on! The other day there was one that just said ‘if you’re going through hell, keep on going,’ which I thought was great.. I hope they keep it up.
At the risk of sounding like a tree-hugging hippie, one of the things that inspires me most is turning off all forms of technology. Or at the very least, the internet. Nothing decongests the mental passageways like looking at a beautiful view (ideally the sea) or some form of the sublime while you're thinking or writing. It’s a massive cheesy cliché but when I need to get stuck into writing my books, I like to sneak off to a room with a view by the sea or the mountains and work there. The romantic poets swore by it and it served them pretty well. If you can’t afford to go abroad then I recommend the members bar at the Southbank centre, that’s a lovely spot to sit and work looking over the Thames!
Sticking with the theme of going offline, here is Nat’s piece
on what inspired her, which is all lovely and analogue. Over to you Nat…Nat says...
[Click image to enlarge]
Hear more from Lol and Nat at http://www.lollyandnat.com/