Creativity Corner The Creative Process

The Creative Process – Meet Peter Cooper

October 28, 2013

Morning. It’s monday, a new week and a brand new creative process post.

For new readers: Much has been written about The Creative Process, which in its purest form is simply a way of solving a problem. That sounds simple, doesn’t it? Creativity and its process, contrary to popular belief, is not just reserved for artists and designers. I believe that everyone can benefit from learning and understanding the numerous ways of the creative process. I will invite people to share their own personal creative processes with us and hope this will help you with identifying your own.

Today i’m chuffed to bits to introduce peter cooper from artysmyth2. We actually met on twitter, over virtual soup;-) But here’s peter introducing himself!

The Creative Process – Peter Cooper

The Creative Process - Peter Cooper - Colourliving

The Creative Process

Day to day work can involve all manner of things – helping independent retailers with their challenges, devising retail campaigns, designing shops, fine tuning shop layouts to maximise sales, number crunching, mentoring graduates in the workplace and so on… Every now and again a challenge comes along which requires speed, efficiency, focus and creativity to deliver results.

Here is a visual account of a project that “popped up” when I was working in a consultancy capacity with one of my independent retail customers; Bishop Phillpott in Truro, Cornwall. They had a great opportunity to move to a larger store in a better location. What was the catch? Only three week’s turnaround from initial idea to opening and, of course, all on a tight budget. So, this is how things went:

It starts with the music – something gentle to ease me into the project but guaranteed to get my creative thinking up to speed.


                                     My thought process in sound – turn it up


Image boards TWO

 This is going to be a good day…



Image boards THREE

What’s stopping me? Get on with it!



Image boards FOUR

Bad day, this is not going to plan.



Image boards FIVE

Crap. I know I can do this!



Image boards SIX

I might be onto something here…



Image boards SEVEN

What a response. I knew I could do it.



Image boards EIGHT

Too much brain activity. Makes another list!



Image boards NINE

Not half bad!


How fascinating. Thank you peter for sharing a real-live project with us here on the CP express. I know i owe you a big bowl of home-made soup:-) 

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  • Reply Igor October 28, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    This creative process is so hands-on and so vividly illustrated – love it. It encompasses everything in real life, a bit of chaos, too much brain work, coffee, more mess, new lists, coffee, food, lists, solutions, ideas LOL Love it!

    • Reply tina October 29, 2013 at 4:14 pm

      Hahaha. Yes, very real life, right?
      Now imagine me doing all of that without coffee and sugary food:-)) LOL

      Much creative mess in my space!!

    • Reply Peter Cooper October 29, 2013 at 7:55 pm

      Hi Igor
      Thanks for this. I think it sums up exactly how I work including the self doubt that sometimes manages to creep into the thought process along the way. Just wish I could do it without all the coffee and sometimes you need something stronger and in a nice designer glass…

  • Reply Sarah @ Mocha October 28, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    It’s so interesting how music is often so important for inspiration as part of the creative process. (And also what music inspires them!)

    • Reply tina October 29, 2013 at 4:15 pm

      I’m in 2 camps with Music, sometimes I need absolute silence and sometimes background music helps my process. All I can tell you is that I have very loud music on when I hoover, and preferably some funk!

    • Reply Peter Cooper October 29, 2013 at 8:03 pm

      In reality I’m probably with Tina on this one. If i’m writing I need quite but if I’m sketching out ideas then music helps and I try and play music to suit the project which is why I love my Spotify account, unless my daughters take it over, which they often do!

  • Reply Anya Jensen October 28, 2013 at 3:04 pm

    I so love this creative process – can relate to the many coffees and scribbling. Hope the storm didn’t blow anything other than cobwebs away – apparently it’s heading our way. HAve a fab week – much love

    • Reply tina October 29, 2013 at 4:16 pm

      Glad you could relate!! Yes, storm was fine in my part but did cause havoc around the country. Oh no, hope you’ll be ok.
      Stay safe xx

    • Reply Peter Cooper October 29, 2013 at 8:08 pm

      Yeah the coffee is something I’m trying to cut back on but I really love it. My problem is trying to find something to substitute it with. I don’t like traditional tea although I have just started to drink peppermint tea but it just doesn’t have the kick…Any suggestions?

      • Reply tina October 29, 2013 at 9:03 pm

        Well, I don’t drink Coffee or Tea so here are my go tos:
        1. Fresh Mint with Hot water
        2. Fresh Lemon and Fresh Ginger with Hot Water
        3. Roiboosh Tea with Milk (I use Soya or Almond Milk)
        4. Fresh Nettles with Hot water
        5. Japanese Teas

  • Reply Gerard @WalnutGrey October 28, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Thanks for taking us through your creative process Peter.

    The thing that most stands out above – for me – is that ‘unknown’ quote: “One of the most important keys to success is having the discipline to do what you know you should do even when you don’t feel like doing it.” That sums up so much of what I am like!

    I love your creative & spirited flow… tho not so sure about that music choice 😉 And I spy Monocle & coffee, so a man after my own heart.

    Another great CP outing Tina xx

    • Reply tina October 29, 2013 at 4:20 pm

      What’s wrong with Muse?? Love them…

      Who knew Peter reads Monocle, right? Wonder whether he’s been reading it since Feb 2007:-)) and whether he’s as big a fan as us…
      Hmm, let’s see whether he will enlighten us!

      Oh, how I thee love you for the ‘CP Express’ xx

    • Reply Peter Cooper October 29, 2013 at 8:20 pm

      That quote sums me up quite well too although I’m trying to break the habit. I think it probably applies to lots of creative types, must be something to do with the brain activity.

      My music taste is OK Gerard considering I’m of a different generation but it is quite eclectic and spans quite a few years and genres!

      Monocle is my favourite magazine of the moment but I am fairly new to it so no Tina, not since 2007. Regrettably I’ve replaced it with my subscription to Wallpaper mag, mainly for the excellent retail articles. I’m a bit of a magoholic and I’m trying to limit what I buy but its very hard with so many visually rich publications on the market. Sunday morning in bed with a good design mag and strong coffee, perfect…

      • Reply tina October 29, 2013 at 9:05 pm

        Peter, I’m the magazine Junkie so we are Kindred Spirits…. anything you want to know, just ask. Interesting you exchanged Wallpaper for Monocle. I much prefer Monocle. Do you read ‘Frame’?

  • Reply Doris October 28, 2013 at 4:17 pm

    Love Love Love this! Why? I can so see it working in the process for interior design. The timing couldn’t be more apt as I’ve just started another interior design project and thought to myself Yikes – how am I going to do this? and Peter’s process is what I was envisaging. Thank You for another great post Tina & Peter. xD

    • Reply tina October 29, 2013 at 4:21 pm

      Oh, perfect timing then… so great it resonates with you and Peter’s process will hopefully be a support for your new project!
      Glad you enjoyed lovely x

    • Reply Peter Cooper October 29, 2013 at 8:24 pm

      Thank you, what a lovely comment and good luck with your project. Hope it all goes well and you’ll share the results!

      We all have our own way of working and its great to share the process and learn from others so thanks to Tina for the creative process series.

      • Reply tina October 29, 2013 at 9:06 pm

        Pleasure:-)) I learn tons and get excited every single month….

  • Reply Chi @ 106 October 28, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    This is so inspiring and yet so very relateable. LOVE the illustration/collages, the moments of doubt and eventual euphoria. We’re all human after all!

    I find that even when my day doesn’t go to plan, the tangents I go off on sometimes lead to the pleasantly unexpected. In the end, it’s all good! 😀

    Thanks for another great one, Tina and Peter!

    P.S. Hope the storm wasn’t too bad where you are. xo

    • Reply tina October 29, 2013 at 4:23 pm

      love the word “relateable”… is that an actual word??

      Hahaha. Gosh, do we not all know the ‘Euphoria’ bit?:-))

      “I find that even when my day doesn’t go to plan, the tangents I go off on sometimes lead to the pleasantly unexpected. In the end, it’s all good!”
      You’ve just described 80% of my working life… I wouldn’t have it any other way though LOL

      Storm fine here, not so good elsewhere. How was it in your parts of the world?? xx

    • Reply Peter Cooper October 29, 2013 at 8:39 pm

      Thank you for this. I really did want to get across the emotional side of the process. You’re right Chi because no day is ever wasted something always good will come out of it even if we don’t see it at the time.

      Pleased you liked the post

  • Reply Nicola October 28, 2013 at 8:54 pm

    Love the illustration of Peter, love his depiction of his age, love the description of hard work yet fun, look forward to visiting the shop in Truro – looks great!

    • Reply tina October 29, 2013 at 4:25 pm

      Hahaha! I so LOVE the Illustration of Peter.. bet we now all want our own one…
      Hello darling. Thanks for stopping by xx

    • Reply Peter Cooper October 29, 2013 at 8:44 pm

      Love your response and thank you all your lovely comments. I think I’m at an age(which isn’t ancient) when I have knowledge and life experience so for me that’s prime!

      Hope you get chance to visit the shop in Truro. We need to support all these wonderful businesses that make our high streets so special.

  • Reply Catherine @Farmhousehome October 29, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Thank you Peter, the quote also stood out for me as well and the morning walk to get the creative juices flowing. It was great to see your creative process and I LOVE the end result!

    • Reply tina October 29, 2013 at 4:26 pm

      Well, Charlie makes you have morning walks now, right??? Have you noticed a difference?
      Glad you enjoyed xx

    • Reply Peter Cooper October 29, 2013 at 8:49 pm

      Thank you. I love my early morning walk with the dog, when he behaves, (there’s a funny story here but I couldn’t possibly tell it here),it gives me time to put everything into perspective. It usually comes after sorting out my daughters horse first so it’s always a very early start!

      I only found this quote recently but I think its so true for so many people, me included, obviously… Who’s Charlie?

  • Reply Gudy Herder October 29, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Dear Peter and Tina! This is so interesting! I love to see the beginning, thoughts, notes, meetings, coffees in between and …final project. It is hugely inspiring! Very glad you published that! Since I am the one who teaches afterwards the right (make it visual appealing and sellable) visual merchandising, I have enjoyed a lot seeing the whole process! x

    • Reply tina October 29, 2013 at 4:27 pm

      Oh, Gudy, of course…. that’s what you do so it’s nice for you to see the whole story.
      I love that Peter shared a real life project with warts and all. It’s hugely inspirational to me too.
      Thanks Gudy x

    • Reply Peter Cooper October 29, 2013 at 9:03 pm

      Dear Gudy

      Thanks for the comments. As i’m new to blogging I wasn’t really expecting any response. Teaching visual merchandising, now that’s a challenging task. So many skills to learn and a complex subject with many elements that underpin it.

      Thanks for your comments too Tina. Next time (if i get asked) I’ll chuck in more warts…

  • Reply tina October 29, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    A huge thank you to Peter for such a fun and enlightening post. It’s always inspirational to see people’s Creative Process and I really enjoyed the real-life scenario and the honesty!!

    Now back to soup:-))

  • Reply Parisbreakfast October 30, 2013 at 7:36 am

    Love how the process is illustrated – the stacked scattered drawings and photos

    • Reply Peter Cooper October 30, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      Thank you Carol for your lovely comment. Time to get back to the drawing board…

    • Reply tina October 30, 2013 at 10:48 pm

      Glad you like it Carol.

  • Reply caroline @trend-daily October 30, 2013 at 5:21 pm

    Tina! This has got to be my favourite one in the series yet! Very inspiring Peter and as others have said it’s the real/everyday warts and all in the background that really brings the end product alive and gives it even more meaning. There’s a very similar company to you just down the road from me-post sometime soon. I was blown away by what they produce too. At least if I can’t be this creative myself, it’s all rather fab indulging in someone elses insane talent on-line. Congrats both-brilliant! x

    • Reply Peter Cooper October 30, 2013 at 8:09 pm

      Hi Caroline
      Thank you so much for your comments. Having looked at your blog I would have to disagree with your comments about your own creativity. From now on I shall be a regular visitor, I was inspired and will recommend you! 🙂

    • Reply tina October 30, 2013 at 10:49 pm

      Caroline, you always put yourself down?? Must be an English thing:-))… you are very creative and talented yourself xx

  • Reply geraldine October 30, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    Really love this. Interesting to see the flow of creativity beautifully told with photos. That chalkboard wall with the sticky notes was what caught my eye. Such organisation. I think I need one for hospital work, home life and blogging. A beautiful end result Peter. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Reply tina October 30, 2013 at 10:50 pm

      Glad you enjoyed G and got some inspiration here x

    • Reply Peter Cooper October 31, 2013 at 9:46 am

      Such kind words Geraldine. The chalkboard wall works really well for me. Everyone thought I’d lost the plot when I first painted the wall (& door) matt black. Everyone loves it now although I do periodically clean it off and start again which is quite therapeutic.

  • Reply Holly November 6, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Wow! I’m amazed by how differently everyone conceptualizes their creative process and yet each one is as inspiring and interesting as the last. Peter’s stands out as especially different in presentation, and I love it! I listened to the music the whole read through and somehow it made me feel like I experienced a small but real part of his process! Very cool. And glad to meet Peter 🙂

    thanks to you both. Xx.

    • Reply Peter Cooper November 6, 2013 at 2:39 pm

      Pleased to meet you too Holly and thanks for the lovely comments. I think you’re absolutely spot on about the music it’s an integral part of the story. Thank you:)

    • Reply tina November 6, 2013 at 3:17 pm

      I also listened to the music and was transported to…… I’ll never forget an article I read about Karl Lagerfeld designing so many collections every year. He has different rooms with different large tables. He also has individual iPods that are uploaded with certain tracks for certain moods to inspire him to design. Well, if it’s good enough for Karl…. xxx

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