Book Review: Creative Bones by Guy Bommarito

It’s a new year and the holidays are history. The parties are poof. Christmas is kaput. What to do now for fun? I like to pick up a good book and hunker down in front of the fireplace.

UnknownGuy Bommarito has written one on creativity and it should be required reading for anyone that works or wants to work at a creative agency. “Creative Bones: How Creativity Works. No Really.” is interesting NOT because of its stories and anecdotes about creativity; or as a critique of creative work and campaigns (it has both). Its real value is its fact-based, how-to approach…like Creativity for Dummies. Somehow, Bommarito combines a comedic writing style with a Calvinist approach to creativity. And it works. He’s a sly, dry Guy.

The first time I heard Guy Bommarito’s voice was in 1992. He was just named the new ECD of a regional agency with about 100 employees in Austin, TX — GSD&M. They were Longhorns long on ambition to become a great creative agency. They were good — but Guy wanted them to be great. Like Bogusky, his commitment to attracting top talent from the best agencies in America was unwavering.

GSD&M’s creative goal was to do the best broadcast of any agency outside of NY or Chicago. At the time, great print advertising was coming out of Minneapolis and Richmond — both cities had thriving, robust ad communities. So for the first time, great work was being heavily awarded and highly recognized from outside of the major hub cities. But, the big broadcast was still being created in NY and Chicago (and to some degree, San Francisco). There were few agencies doing national TV in the regions — and what little there was didn’t match the creative level of the print coming out of Minneapolis and Richmond.

GSD&M changed that. And Guy Bommarito was the force behind it, with the courage to act upon the vision of recruiting top talent to Austin — a fertile creative Petri dish of a city (Stateimages-51 Capitol, State University, thriving music scene). A lot of guys talked about doing this, and a few (like Doner) were able to produce good broadcast sporadically. But, This Guy was In Love With You if you had a great reel and skin thick enough to be a creative cowboy — you were hired. So in the ensuing years, dozens of Palma people loaded up the Bekins moving van and sought gold (pencils) in them hills of the land of the Longhorns. And memorable TV campaigns followed.

Fast-forward twenty something years and GSD&M is over 500-employees strong and has become one of the most respected creative agencies in the world. Guy Bommarito put them on the map. So when he writes about creativity…we should take notice.

Creative Bones demystifies the creative process almost anatomically. It compares ideas with vomit: “they just come out” as Dylan tried to describe how he wrote “Like a Rolling Stone.” Bommarito machine-guns 20 quick “chapters” with rapidity. It’s a one-sit read.

Agency folks sometimes lose sight of the fact that everything they do, regardless of title or department is done with the single mission of producing the best possible creative work. This book enforces that mission and makes noble a pragmatic approach to creativity. Pick it up  here on Amazon and get your creative new year off to a great start.

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