Porque no? Why not?
While there are many views on where creativity comes from, life experience is definitely a factor that can enrich a pool from which to pick inspiration. Some of us are willing to travel a little bit farther to widen that pool. And a recent adventure to Guatemala didn’t disappoint in it’s bombardment of sights, colours, sounds and scents.
The ancient colonial town of Antigua is a great example of balancing contrasts. Ancient ruins are juxtaposed with restored colonial architecture dating back to the 1500’s. Bright colours contrast the crumbling ruins, the small buildings—none more than 3 stories—are dwarfed by the three enormous neighbouring volcanos, and mayans dressed in full traditional clothing walk amongst those in their best Sunday suits.
It also felt much like wandering back in time, a time when hand-craftsmanship is still very much alive, and it’s just the way it is. It’s not done to be rustic chic… it’s just life. The alfombras exemplified that what was worth doing, was worth taking the time to do it with precision and using techniques passed down through generations. The colourful carpets made of wood shavings, sand, pine needles and sometimes flowers, were almost tragic in how temporary they were. It also made them special. The arrangements would be enjoyed and appreciated to their full extent because the next day, there would be nothing left but splotches of colour between cobblestones.
Some of these old things from days gone by get… up-cycled. Sort of. At least, that’s one way to describe a “Chicken Bus”. Guatemala’s public transportation consists of old school buses,… but these aren’t what we took as kids. The buses are painted bright colours, and are lined with flashy chrome, flashing lights, and stereos blare latino tunes day and night. The drivers all have assistants who toss bags and belongings to the cages up top (cages that used to transport chickens… and sometimes still do). They also yell their destinations loudly to the pedestrians. There are no bus stops. You just have to know the routes, stick out your hand, and the bus will pause just long enough for you to hop on. Things don’t necessarily have to make sense if close-knit community and familiarity make it work.
Nature’s power is also very evident in everyday life. In large cities, we’re a bit detached. Sure we have parks, and rivers and our backyard gardens. But Antigua’s history is rooted in it’s being demolished by Agua Volcano, not in a cloud of fire and lava, but in a crumbling slide after an earthquake. And should you for moment, forget that history, Fuego Volcano, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, is not far off to remind you. If you’re daring enough, local tour operators will happily take your money, and offer up the gruelling and difficult task of climbing Antigua’s third and largest volcanic friend, Acatenango. The goal being - to ascend to 3976m, and get an up close, maybe too close, and maybe too personal with the fiery Fuego.
And with that, mother nature gives a very profound lesson in advertising. Cause she can seize your attention, mesmerize you, terrify you, and drip with stunning beauty at all the same time. Bravo. All we can do as creatives is strive to mimic an teeny inkling of that powerful effect.
Hopefully what doesn’t kill you not only makes you stronger, but more creative. When people ask “How did you think of that?”, it’s probably hard to pinpoint it back to the fresh cocoa and coffee beans, or the clapping sounds of ladies making fresh tortillas, the rumbling of tires on cobble - but all those little glimpses, aromas, pain, exhilaration, and lavish colour combos - they all get stored away in our mysterious brains. And once in a while, two random thoughts collide, connect, and a new campaign is born.