Designer, Michael Johnson, has won 8 D&AD Pencils, including a black one. He founded London design consultancy, Johnson Banks in 1990. Johnson was D&AD President in 2003 and his major project during that presidency was the inception and co-curation of Rewind, a celebration of forty years of D&AD, which became an exhibition at the V&A and a Phaidon book of the same name. He has since written three books of his own. His most recent book is called Now Try Something Weirder: How to keep having great creative ideas and survive in the creative business. Of course, I wanted to know about its story as soon as I read the title. Turns out, it’s hilarious.
Johnson began writing the book two years ago. There were two catalysts. The first was people asking him all the time where his ideas come from, a question that stopped him in his tracks. At the time, he had no idea. The second was a talk he was giving at a big German design conference. He was the last speaker at the end of a three-day conference. Hideous. Huge pressure. His topic was also a bit serious, so he was very nervous about how he would draw an audience. The speaker just before him was Erik Kessels, creative director of KramerKessels. Kessels’ talk was about photos. He and his curator had discovered that men post a whole lot of pictures online of a.) their erect penises and b.) they put other objects in the photos for scale. So he’s showing these uproarious pictures of erect penises with remote controls, shampoo bottles and you name it beside them. And Johnson is waiting backstage to follow his talk. He wrote a note to himself in his head that said, “Never follow a Dutchman who’s been showing pictures of erect penises.” He didn’t think anything of it until later. Then he realised it was the page of a really great book.
Here are some of its other pages.