4 Rules for Creatives, from Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity

The New School’s Open Campus hosted Cannes Lions’ first-ever podcast. Listen to ‘Asking Out Loud’ here. #OpenCampusNetwork

The New School
4 min readJul 5, 2017


For the third year in a row, The New School positioned itself at the forefront of the creative industries’ major gathering of the year, as more than 15,000 of the world’s leading innovators, imagineers, and industry leaders convened in Cannes, France, for the 64th time since the Festival’s founding in 1954.

Over eight days, from June 17–23, cultural influencers and evangelists for the new and uncommon participated in hundreds of seminars, workshops, panels, and demos to grasp the very best and most forward-thinking insights from the frontlines of creative thoughts and praxis. From our time making the rounds, here is our recap of the Festival’s leading take-aways:

1.) Know Your North Star
Again and again, we heard the refrain: creativity is driven by purpose. Without purpose, without meaning, and without an end-goal, much of our effort simply falls flat. But, to borrow a phrase from Billy Burgess of The New School’s Global Executive M. S. In Strategic Design and Management, when you “know your North Star,” it makes possible myriad collaborations — and limitless inspirations. Sure, you might color outside the lines between pressing “go” and finding yourself at the goal line (in fact, THAT part of the process is probably best offered maximal freedom to play), but holding close to you and your team’s guiding purpose will ultimately help make such creative collaboration possible.

Hear the complete first episode of Cannes Lions’ podcast with The New School’s Open Campus, including talent from Airbnb, Graviky Labs at MIT, and others.

2.) Creativity Will Not Be Roboticized
In nearly every commercial sector, the threat of automation hangs like Damocles hammer forcing industries to innovate at astounding rates. Ironically, artificial intelligence is one of the arenas witnessing the most growth — and angst — as a probable consequence. From privacy concerns to the threat of untempered outsourcing, “AI” had resolutely replaced “VR” as the flavor of the moment.

But all that talk wasn’t entirely colored by concern: creativity and a capacity for critical thinking, the tool that can help turn inspiration into action, are not likely to be displaced by a cousin of your grandmother’s Rumba anytime, soon.

3.) Step Back To Lean In
At the core of groundbreaking creative is groundbreaking insight, boring into the very heart of the target audience’s dreams and desires. In other words, radical empathy lays the cornerstone for the larger creative process to follow.

But what happens when research reveals that your audience is of a much different mind than you had imagined? What happens when you find hurdles in summoning the empathy that is meant to light the way?

“Step back to lean in” was the advice offered by Marcela Taberas of A & E Networks, where she heads up their research division. Give your audience room to be who they are, and summon the art of listening without judgment to capture the essence of the message they have to share.

Go deeper with Marcela and creative leaders from Goodby and The New School with the fourth episode of Cannes Lions’ podcast with Open Campus.

4.) Break the Rules (Within Reason, While Listening)
At one of the Festival’s headlining events with Adidas and Parsons alum Alexander Wang, the notion of originality was interrogated in the historical context of the brand’s first collaboration with outside talent — Stan Smith, ’70s tennis superstar — up to the present-day award-winning invitation to Wang himself.

Though one would expect Wang to do something daring, literally turning the brand’s logo upside down was probably even more provocative than anyone had anticipated. And it could have gone all wrong, as the team on stage was the first to admit.

But what made this dose of disruption more favorable than foolhardy for Adidas? Listening. (There’s that word, again.) Wang did not present his idea in a vacuum; instead, he brought his inspiration into a community of creatives to fine-tune the idea together.

Missed this year’s Festival? Get a deeper glimpse of the most engaging insights with Cannes Lions’ first-ever podcast, hosted by The New School’s Open Campus.



The New School

A university in New York City for scholarly activists, fearless artists, and convention-defying designers established in 1919. #100YearsNew