Imagine 4 days filled with throngs of like-minded creative individuals connecting on so many levels while being recharged by some of the biggest personalities and speakers in the creative industry. This was the opportunity I was given when I attended the HOW Design Conference in May. If you’re a creative person, you definitely should convince your boss to let you go. This conference is the single biggest shot of creative boosting inspiration that I’ve encountered.


One of the HOW Design Live Conference speakers that inspired me was Stefan Mumaw. Stefan has authored six books, most notably, Caffeine for the Creative Mind. Stefan is the Creative Director at Hint, a Kansas City creative content & experience design shop. He’s led creative efforts for brands large and small, including Roland, Pioneer, Coca-Cola, Sony, Chevrolet, and Hallmark.


Stefan’s session, at this year’s HOW, was titled How to Cheat: Creative Domination through Villainy. This session was, on the most basic of explanations, a creative thinking session. This is why it connected with me in such a positive way.

In Mumaw’s session he discussed three principles:


  1. Think Like a Villain: Have tricks up your sleeve. As the old saying goes, “There’s always more than one way to skin a cat” thus is true when solving creative problems. Know the rules. Understand the rules. Break the rules.


  1. Live in the Leading: For those who don’t know, leading is the negative space between lines of text. In terms of this creative exercise though, you essentially need to read between the lines and you’ll see the things that don’t clearly reveal themselves.


  1. Understand the Endgame: Simply put, understand the big picture so that you can manipulate each and every smaller segment of that big picture, to achieve creative domination.


As a graphic designer, thinking like a villain resonated with me the most. Villains, as do designers, take the rules and warp them. They take what they know, use their intelligence to fabricate their interpretation of the rules. All is fair in love and creativity. Now, go design and think like a villain!  Muwhahaha!

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