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Matt Bourn
Matt Bourn

I am fascinated by all things to do with the media, writing and publishing.  I have specialised since my degree in communications for the world of media, advertising and technology and written constantly, personally and professionally, during that time.  Twenty years on from graduation, storytelling is everywhere in my life, so through 2014-2016 I am studying an MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck to further my understanding of the art of storytelling in this changing world.  I welcome any feedback or comments, my Twitter handle is @MattBourn or send an email to

Notes on Perry: Writing Inspiration from a Turner Prize Winner

I was fortunate enough to see Grayson Perry present at Advertising Week Europe, delivering a brilliant presentation on creativity to an audience of highly entertained marketers.  There were some fabulous tips and views from this great creative mind which the writer in me had to share…


Firstly, Perry started by taking down ‘Creativity'. 


He described ‘creativity’ as a word used mainly by people who aren’t.  His view was there is no recipe for creativity and that we should begin by getting rid of how it is written – normally in large, colourful and childish lettering.


He then destroyed anybody who claimed that to be creative you need to be one or more of the following:


  • Authentic. Perry suggested this ‘authenticity’ is mainly delivered by men sporting beards or people who live in buildings with wood stuck on the outside (an architectural equivalent of facial hair).
  • Eclectic. Perry proposed this means the person will generally have no taste, the human equivalent of all boutique hotels looking the same.
  • Eccentric. Perry’s least favourite type of creative, best symbolized by a tramp with a dog wearing a bandana, where he was more likely to steal money from the tramp than donate.
  • Spiritual. Perry believes people usually turn to spirituality when they can’t be specific about their idea.


The Turner Prize winner went on to share his advice about where ideas come from, much of which I found chimes with conversations we have been having at Birkbeck these past few months:


  • Use your anger to stimulate ideas. Whatever pisses you off about life, write about it.
  • Know yourself.  However dark it is, own it and use it in your work. Don’t be scared of being too open.
  • Play seriously.  Take the little things you are musing about and take care of them, you don’t know what they might become.
  • Be Uncool.  Coolness is a form of orthodoxy, so don’t be restricted because you want your writing to be ‘cool’.
  • Be specific.  Perry cited the spiral as the international symbol for lack of imagination and that ideas resonate when they are about something.
  • Put in the hours.  Perry learned his craft making Airfix models in his bedroom as a teenager.
  • Don’t try to be original.  Borrow stuff from the world around you – he presented visuals of Afghan war rugs and old photography books of Australian transvestites, arguing the process of culture is when you borrow stuff and go on to get things wrong.
  • Be vulnerable.  Particularly applicable to men, apparently, because they are not very good at being open. But I can’t admit to that one…


It was an amazing thirty minute blast from a man with a head full of ideas. 


Right.  I’m off to get right royally angry about stuff and craft a rant from one of the dark places I haven’t shown you yet.


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