Calvin Innes, our CEO and Creative Director, has always been a huge fan of TED Talks. For years he’s watched as many as he can, with speakers based in every sector and hailing from around the globe. That’s why he leapt at the chance to be involved in this year’s TEDxHull at Hull Truck Theatre, which brought together 11 thought leaders from a range of disciplines under the theme Making Waves.
Calvin’s talk focused on a lifelong passion: ‘Unlocking a World of Creativity in Children through Illustration’. The core of the talk was how illustration can be used as a way to connect with children who struggle to express ideas: “Kids have amazing imaginations but sometimes they’re unable to share their thoughts and feelings,” says Calvin. “This talk helped adults to understand how the use of simple tools can encourage children to get their creations down on paper and develop the confidence to continue this into adulthood.”
An important message that Calvin couldn’t stress enough was that illustration isn’t about perfection. Instead, it should be a free-flowing creative process without assessment, enabling children to express themselves without the barriers imposed by competition. Most of all, it should be a fun activity that they can do at any time, helping to improve self-belief, confidence and mental health.
“It’s purely about coming up with cool stuff,” adds Calvin. “They don’t have to be the next generation of artists and their doodles don’t need to be graded. Illustration shouldn’t have filters or obstacles; it’s about sharing anything you want, especially if it’s silly and random.”
It can be said that this no holds barred way of thinking applies to everything we do at Drunk Animal. In order to develop and deliver campaigns and events that effectively convey a company’s style and voice, we begin by spitballing all kinds of crazy ideas that pop into our heads, then take the best bits and shape them into a feasible and accurate representation of the client’s brand.
Calvin’s talk brought countless smiles, as examples on the screen included some of his own as well as a fantastic piece by his son, Cohen. This one contained a dinosaur, a robot and many other wild and wonderful characters fresh from the mind of a young child. Through this drawing, everyone remembered what they used to sketch when they were little, and how rules and boundaries simply didn’t apply.
“It’s something that we forget as we grow older,” explains Calvin. “With each year that passes, many of us begin to believe that we’re not any good at illustration because it should be done a certain way. This simply isn’t the case – take Quentin Blake as a primary example.”
Everyone knows and surely loves Quentin Blake, the illustrator of Roald Dahl’s timeless tales as well as many other works. Calvin pointed out how Blake’s style is chaotic and strange, with five weird points at the end of each arm. And yet, we never question what these spindly twigs are – they’re clearly fingers, regardless of how dissimilar they are to other illustrators’ representations.
“Education is incredibly important and Drunk Animal works with schools across the UK,” says Calvin. “But when it comes to illustration, we need to forget about comparison and convention – that’s not what it’s about. Children should be encouraged to unleash their minds on paper, as this is the only way to truly discover their own style.”
As always, this year’s TEDxHull event was sold out and there really was something for everyone: “I’d like to thank the organisers and my fellow speakers for an incredible and eye-opening experience,” says Calvin. “Doing a TED Talk has always been an ambition of mine, plus I got to watch my good friend JJ Tatten deliver a talk about the amazing work being done at The Warren and how young people can experiment with music. What an awesome day!”