Back home in Colombia when I was still only in my third semester of uni, I got a placement as a copywriter at Lowe. It was my first real work experience. There was this family that sold art and design books out of the back of a van and did the rounds through every agency in Bogotá. They would park out the front and all the creatives would rush down to buy their books.
These books, very difficult to find in Colombia, were incredibly expensive, even more so when compared to UK prices. You’d pay £90 for a book that cost only £15 in the UK. But they’d allow you to pay in installments, week by week. All out of trust.
And then they started selling Moleskine notebooks, quite a novelty in South America at the time. I went and got my first one, and paid it off in three installments. I kept it sitting by my desk at work; I didn’t want to use it. It felt like I’d be ruining a beautiful thing. I was waiting for that perfect project to come through, something worthy of writing and sketching on its pages.
And then it came. But when I went to put pen to paper on my Moleskine, I found that my mind was completely blocked. This would be the evidence of my creative thinking. What if it wasn’t good enough? It was quite a commitment to write or draw anything on that Moleskine notebook. Whatever I wrote would stay there forever. I couldn’t tear the pages out. Didn’t want to cross over stuff. Didn’t want to stain it with my horrible sketches and scamps. It all felt too final.
So, instead, I preferred to just use spare sheets of paper. I felt less insecure when I knew that I could just bin my sketches, while I certainly couldn’t bin my expensive Moleskine book. But then I started losing all of my loose drafts. Something had to give.
The brand and the object itself being so valuable to me, representing all that I was striving for creatively, was exactly what was keeping me from using my Moleskine. Ironically enough, it was blocking my creativity, going completely against what the brand stands for.
As I got more experience and became more confident with my ideas, I came to realise something: nothing’s perfect the first time around. A creative execution is the tip of an iceberg of endless drafts and re-drafts. In my Moleskine today, there are more crossed out ideas than those left intact. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a way to record a journey to a destination, and not the destination itself.
About the Author
Gabriel Soto is a designer working for the brand storytellers – Aesop Agency. After working in advertising and design agencies in his home city of Bogotá, Colombia, Gabriel hopped across the pond to get a taste of London agency life.