My Creative Life

Internet Trial, TV Remote and London: Andrew Long opens up his inspiration wardrobe

The ECD for Leo Burnett shares three things that continue to inspire him

By Andrew Long

Somebody once described inspiration to me as a cupboard that you fill with all the things you find interesting. Then, whenever you need an idea, or you're wondering if there's a different way of approaching a task, you just open the cupboard and have a bit of a rummage. Sometimes you might find that thing you were searching for, sometimes you might find something you didn't know you were searching for but is even more useful, and sometimes you might return empty-handed and a little dusty... that's how it goes.

I enjoy feeling inspired, and I enjoy finding inspiration in things. I've thrown a lot into my cupboard over the years. So, let's open it up and explore a few of the objects that have and continue to inspire me.

AOL Internet Trial CD-ROM

My first inspiration was the internet. From the second I got online – thanks to a maze of Ethernet cables and an AOL trial CD I found at school – to the present day, the internet has been the thing that has inspired, fuelled, and shaped my creativity more than anything else. As a kid, I would spend hours chatting on message boards, designing websites, making videos. Fast forward to today and not a lot has changed, really (as my weekly Screen Time alert makes me acutely aware). Of course, the platforms are different, and it all loads a lot faster, but the principles of socializing, creation, and sharing knowledge are the same now as they were back then. I get just as much joy learning Runway today, as I did with Geocities 20 years ago. And I think it's an understanding of these things that allows us to produce ideas that people want to participate in and get involved with, which is key to creating work that is truly populist.

TV Remote

I've always been obsessed with film and television. The type of kid who would wake up at 6 am to get a few hours in front of the box before school. Now I'm trying to get my own kid to sleep by 6 pm to get a few hours in before bedtime. My tastes are broad (as people I work with would tell you). I'm just as happy watching "Below Deck" as I am "The Bear"; I can appreciate "Reacher" as much as I can "Succession". I'm especially inspired by creators who can combine populist appeal with craft and originality. A filmmaker like Christopher Nolan, for example, has enjoyed box office success but continues to find new ways to elevate the medium. I think that's what our job as creatives is really. Find something that appeals to a lot of people, and then find bold, unexpected ways of bringing it to life.

Map Of London

The city is a daily inspiration, and every day I try to make a conscious effort to appreciate it. I love the total fusion of it all. The weight of history and the promise of innovation reflected on the same street. The contrast in architecture, walking from a Victorian terrace to take a meeting at a brutalist '70s building, then back to work at a sleek futurist office. And, of course, the people. I love walking around, absorbing the hustle and bustle and observing all these different walks of life in one place. After all, it's impossible to create populist work that connects with people without taking the time to understand the people you're making work for. And for me, that's the biggest inspiration of all.

Andrew Long is the executive creative director at Leo Burnett UK


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