The Necessity of Invention

Necessity is the mother of invention, as the saying goes. Desperation and a deadline works, too. In more than 20 years working as a designer — for newspapers, magazines and printers — I've had to do a lot of inventing.

Sometimes I've had to invent an ad campaign from scratch on the day said ad was due because sometimes bosses forget deadlines. Other times I've had to invent book covers after being given little more than a title and a photo of questionable quality. Still other times I've had to create the front page of a newspaper using photos of religious statues, stained glass, Cher and Elton John. (Yes, I'm serious.)

Having to make something out of nothing can be frustrating to be sure, but it also has been my greatest teacher. I learned a lot of techniques just from being approached by an ad rep and asked to create an ad featuring a half-naked model standing up through the moon roof of a limo holding a nighclub's logo over his head. (Taste hasn't always been a prerequisite for the projects I take on.) Who knew building tacky ads would end up being a training exercise?

I’ve been able to prove my creativity not just with the finished product, but by having to work within the limitations I was given, and, if I’m lucky, find a way around them. It’s a position I've been put in often enough that I don't have to take too much time searching for a solution.

I’m John Nail, the “J. Nail” of J. Nail Design. Let me help you invent your next print promotion.

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