Issue No. 26
— December 2016

The Creative
Process ISsue

Digital trend publication
blending a mix of culture,
insights and data.

A trend product by





The creative process has been beaten to death.


Not the concept itself, more just that the collective internet puts out a hundred articles a day on the topic. Trust us, we are fully aware of this. Being that this is our third Creative Process issue, we decided to take a step away from the esoteric "here is how I stay creative" and dive head first into the tactical.


Inside this issue you will find our personal thoughts on how to approach staying creative and the creative brief, creativity hacks from founders and marketings, and how to stay on deadline inspired from inside 72andSunny. Hard. Facts. Baby.


It's almost 2017 and there isn't time to just talk anymore, dream big, execute bigger. 



Contributing Editor




Editor's Letter


"Don't think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It's self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can't try to do things. You simply must do things."

-Ray Bradbury




Dig into the issue by clicking on the links below!



1. From the sidelines

What does your creativity look like before 9 and after 6? Matte Black's Content Manager breaks down his creativity "From the Sidelines" and how he manages "work" creativity with external projects that he depends on for personal fulfillment.

— Nolan Goff, Content Manager at Matte Black


2. Made under pressure

If you work at an agency and deal with clients, or in-house at a company where there is a chain of command, you'll relate to this article about the struggles of sticking to your creative process all while navigating deliverables, budgets, and feedback. 

— Helena Yueh, Producer at 72&Sunny


3. Creativity Hacks from creatives

How do creative people get, and stay, creative? We chatted with the people behind Blind Barber, Parachute Home, Café Gratitude, and Verve Coffee about their secrets to creativity including hot showers, laughter and exercise.



4. quan mai

Get to know Quan Mai, a.k.a. @GeneticBoi on Instagram, a Los Angeles based multimedia creative consultant who tells his stories through graphic design, art direction, videography, menswear, and travels. We chatted about what gets his creative juices flowing, challenging projects and what's next for him. 


5. The Creative Brief

 A creative brief may sound too regimented or tired for your project, but it isn't. The Strategy Team at Matte Black put together this worksheet for a creative brief that will keep you headed forward. Don't copy and paste, don't treat it as a template, take an hour and put together a brief that can act as your north star.



✱ No Login Required




“I force myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste.”

-Marcel Duchamp

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Spotify Crunches User Data in Fun Ways for This New Global Outdoor Ad Campaign


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Nasty Gal: What Went Wrong?

As the millennial-focused fashion brand faces bankruptcy, read what went wrong.

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RIP, vine

Twitter to shut down Vine after laying off 300 employees. Read the 5 sad reasons why.

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The post-virtual reality sadness.

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Our budding relationships with AI



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A Small way to show solidarity

Inspired by Brexit, people around the world are wearing safety pins after Donald Trump was elected President.


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Breakthrough Success Depends on Your Productivity, Not Your Age


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The 10 commandments of working freelance

Freelancers can relate to these humorous cards. 


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Introducing the conversational form

An open-source framework to turn web forms into conversations.

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What twitter really needs

This change to Twitter's design could help frustrated users.


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From the sidelines

by Nolan goff


There’s a big white table in the back of our office. On most mornings (the one’s where I didn’t lose the fight to my bed), you’ll find me there with a sprawl of white notecards scattered about and a laptop open. And hopefully, there’s a blinking cursor on a page where I’ll leave sentences, organized into thoughts and dialogue and actions.


The truth is, by the time the work day begins, I will have already accomplished all my personal creative goals for the day. By the time I sit down for “work,” my mind is firing on all cylinders. Not only does this sideline work fulfill me personally, it gives me a vital creative outlet for those days when I’m not finding that fulfillment between 9 and 6.


I don’t want to go far into my personal writing ambitions, but it involves writing screenplays that I’ll direct one day (anyone have half a million dollars?). This is more about why I do it and how I go about it, because I think it applies universally to whatever creative side hustle you have going on.


Why I Do It:

The farthest extent: There are a lot of rewarding moments working at Matte Black. Probably even more than most jobs. But with any job, it isn’t all fun and games and cocktails all the time. There are challenges working with other people, communicating with clients, and fighting for your right to create. This is where your sideline creativity can creep in and give you the big boost you’re looking for. I need to give myself the freedom every morning to push ideas wherever I want them to go, with no outside input. Brian Eno once said, and I’m paraphrasing, that you should “take an idea to it’s farther extent, and then retreat to a more useful position.” The mornings are for me pushing ideas as far as I can. The work day is for finding a way to apply those things, in a relevant way.


It’s important: I’ve got things to say and creating a product driven video for a skincare line or athletic brand, while each awesome in their own right, isn’t a platform for me to say those things. And it’s not just poignant melodrama I’m writing to make into a film one day. One day it might be me fictionalizing what I see around me in the coffee shop. Another, it might be a silly music video treatment about adult gymnasts and sometimes it’s an article about sideline creativity for Shape Shift (whoa, meta!). However you want to use this time is up to you. What matters is that you get to say what you want to say and you get to say it how you want to say it.


How I Do It:

Hot showers: Jeff Laub, from Blind Barber already touched on this elsewhere in the issue, but he’s right. Before I step into the shower every morning, I consider what scenes I’m about to write. And then, as that hot water pounds down on me, I meditate on them. It’s a white noise that inspires and awakens ideas, allowing you to focus on nuance. Yes, I may or may not be a part of the California drought problem. No, I will not be a part of the solution.


Disintegration loops: When I sit down to write, it’s about carrying that meditation from the shower into the process. To do so, I usually listen to music that is less lyrical and more musical and minimal. William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops have been a constant for me. You might prefer something else entirely: Kanye yelling at you, Miles Davis’ improvisations, or a film score. Hey, whatever works!


Side note: if you haven’t listened or read about the Disintegration Loops history, you should change that immediately.


Reinventing the process: On a daily, weekly, and monthly basis I get dissatisfied in what I’m writing. I either want to be working on something else, think what I’m working on is stupid and won’t mean anything to anyone else, or a variety of other self-deprecating thoughts tend to creep in. Of course, this could be an indicator that what you’re working on isn’t worth the time. But for me, I don’t usually get down the road with projects unless I’ve mulled them over for months beforehand, meaning in spite of the dissatisfaction, I know what I’m writing is worthwhile and important to me. When this is the case, but motivation to write is hard to come by, I look for ways to change the process around the page, and not what’s necessarily on it. It could be as simple as working in a new environment, or it could be as complex as taking my scenes off of a digital outline and then physically writing them onto notecards, and then laying them out across the big white table at the office; “seeing” the film instead of just reading it. Giving yourself new stimuli around the project can stir up a new excitement for what’s been there all along.



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Chelsea Matthews


Managing Editor
Delanie Billman


Contributing Editor
Micah Heykoop


Creative Direction
Nolan Goff


Art Direction + Design
Jesse Ligo



Carlos Quinteros Jr.



Nicole Best


Aria Davis



Nolan Goff
By day, Nolan Goff is the Guy Fieri of #firecontent at Matte Black. By night, he's a writer of screenplays and enjoys napping in theaters. 

Pet peeve: When people are sitting in the back of the plane, but stand up and get their bags down from the overhead bin as soon as we pull into the gate. It's going to be a minute, y'all.
Last song played: You're Still the One by Shania Twain
Streaming on Netflix (Hulu): You're the Worst
Life goal: Watching my film play at the Eccles Theatre in Park City, Utah. 
Most inspiring city: Denton, TX

Helena Yueh

Helena is an LA native and LA-based film producer. In asking her to describe herself, someone once asked her what her last dying word would be, she said, "Smile." Follow her on Instagram @helenayueh.

Last song played: Tom Misch, "Beautiful Escape"
Go-to bar order: Tanqueray and tonic, with fresh grapefruit
Guilty pleasure:  Listening to Music Top 40 or watching old episodes of Gossip Girl
On your bucket list: So many things... 
Stress reliever: Surfing


Quan Mai

Originally from Vietnam, Quan is a multimedia creative consultant based in Los Angeles; telling stories through graphic design, videography, and art direction. He's an avid traveler and a seeker of meaningful experiences.


Follow him @geneticboi

Favorite comfort food: Vietnamese caramelized pork belly.
Last movie watched: Disney's MOANA (it was so amazing!)
Phobia: Snakes
Childhood crush: Ricky Martin
Most inspiring city: Los Angeles