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Big Ideas

Hush: Structural Inversion

Everyday is "opposite day" at NYC content creation studio Hush, where they manage to keep the glass half full while constantly flipping the script.

Hush, a content creation studio out of NYC, has delivered its clients eye-catching content for commercials, music videos, broadcast, and integrated campaigns for over ten years. And Hush’s clients aren’t just anybody. With Nike, Estee Lauder, American Express, and Sony Ericsson in the mix, clearly the Hush team knows what they’re doing. They know what they’re talking about too.

When we asked Hush co-creative director and co-founder David Schwarz the biggest challenge he faced as a creative professional, his answer came quickly: “understanding the balance between a singular vision and collective input.” He explains, “We invite ideas from every angle, from every member of the team, junior to senior… it’s a very difficult line to walk. It’s difficult enough among an internal team and gets exponentially more arduous when you add outside partners and clients to the mix.”But the challenge isn’t one that can’t be overcome. “We’ve been successful by understanding that the final result of our efforts is always an amalgamation of viewpoints,” Schwarz says. “It takes a singular vision to guide a project, but the result is always a collaborative product. We roll with the punches, embrace the unexpected, leverage ‘happy accidents’ and know that changes along the way are not a negative, but rather potential opportunities. It has to be a ‘glass-half-full mentality.”

Another creative challenge, though it’s a lesser one, comes with the low fruition rate of ideas. For Schwarz and his team, the fix for this obstacle comes both in accepting this fact and in discovering its benefits. “Given that most ideas ‘bite the dust,’ we look at new projects like daydreaming,” he says. “Even if the project dies, the time and effort we put into thinking about it, researching, discussing, testing, challenging each other, sharing references – these are the things that expand your work and raise the bar. That’s something we put into our pool of possibilities and we’ll pull out the hat later. Self-education is half the battle in this industry.”

Think differently. If everyone is making things loud, we make them quiet.

Having ameliorated its challenges, the Hush team is free to focus on nurturing creativity. Schwarz says, “We’re inspired by people who are smarter than us.” Citing artists and technologists as examples, he goes on, “We love collaborating with diverse talents, who are different, who approach problems from a completely alternative standpoint, and with completely different goals… mixing disciplines challenges the way we work and seems to open our eyes to alternative ways of approaching problems, which is the key to reinventing yourself and staying fresh.”

Avoiding trends born of “the same old sources,” is key to Hush’s attention-grabbing design, animation, and interactive content. “By searching outside the expected places, you’ll generate ideas that are influenced by oddities, emotions, intangible feelings,” Schwarz explains. “The constant viewing and re-mixing of our visual sources creates the trendiness in our industry that, I believe, is a major detriment.” Of those sources, he says, “You know what they are, you know the URLs, you know the publications.”

If fresh inspiration is one thing that has helped Hush differentiate itself from the staid publications Schwarz mentions, “structural inversion” is another. The term refers to the “backwards” and “inverted” approach the hush team takes with their projects. “Think differently,” Schwarz advises. “If everyone is making things loud, we make them quiet. When the initial instinct is to open up Photoshop, we start cutting things out of cardboard instead.”

Schwarz recommends finding “structural inversion” through changes in creative teams, technology, and mediums. “Sometimes these experiments will fail and sometimes they will surprise you,” he says. “In either case, you’ll end up evolving creatively – and isn’t that what we’re all trying to do?”

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