'All hail the creative rebel' – What Inspires Me, with Havas Life Medicom's Vicki Shanahan

Vicki Shanahan, creative director and head of creative communications at Havas Life Medicom, discusses what inspires her creative mind.

'All hail the creative rebel' – What Inspires Me, with Havas Life Medicom's Vicki Shanahan

All hail the creative rebel

Lots of love goes to the creative rebels who push boundaries and challenge the status quo. These are people who exercise critical thought and fuse this with creativity to form fresh ideas. One obvious example is Banksy, with his annoyingly good yet poignant social commentary.

But can a logo rebel? In my view, yes.

The London 2012 Olympics logo is a rebel outcast from the past. It polarised opinions as it didn’t conform to the friendly, community-esque look and feel predictably seen before. Instead it displayed an anticonformist aesthetic with a highly angular logo devoid of rounded corners. In the history of the Olympic visual language, this had never been done. It leaned to reflect the dynamism of sport and became the most deliciously notorious Olympic logo in history.

Let’s talk about the c-word...

Despite its devastating impact worldwide, the coronavirus has also united global communities.

Calamitous upheavals and seismic events have a tendency to foster great creativity and collaboration.

Through the pandemic we are seeing the biggest crowdsourced disease-awareness campaign of our time. It’s a global creative collective driven by the people, for the people, with one shared mission: to eradicate the virus. The creative responses to the UN’s Global call to action are exciting to see. HLM together with CS Media and Robin Fox have added our own contribution to this through #OurMagicCar to help kids with social distancing.

Shared memes act as reminders, ‘Clap for our carers’ promotes inclusion, reimagined songs push awareness and bring levity to the well-promoted call to arms: ‘Stay home, save the NHS, save lives’. It’s inspiring to see people putting the ‘kind’ back into humankind in such a creative fashion.

Modern art

You know… the stuff that sparks disapproving reactions such as: ‘My three-year-old could do better.’

This is the art I admire; art born from an idea, or emotional expression, or lack thereof.

Kazimir Malevich from the Suprematism art movement is a powerful example of why I studied graphic design. This movement rejected traditional representation of the past, instead focusing on abstraction and "the supremacy of pure artistic feeling".

With single or scattered two-dimensional geometric forms on a white background, this examination of form, colour, weight, movement, space and balance continues to inform design principles today and are echoed in the campaigns that surround us.

A unique collaborative spirit

Collaboration sparks a creatively contagious atmosphere that generates great work. This is the spirit we foster at Havas Life Medicom. I lead an inspiring creative team who put the CC in our PR and creative comms business unit. This collaborative spirit is at the heart of what we do best – provide a strong and diverse creative service ready for any challenge.


Think like a hip-hop artist...

And finally, I find inspiration in these modern-day poets who liberally illustrate a characterful narrative with such vibrancy and brevity.

I like to tap into the mind of a hip-hop artist when creating concise copy lines or rationales that capture the idea in a persuasive and artful manner. This comes with great irony as I’m just over my 500 word limit. That’s because I am a work in progress.


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