Creatives 2009: Linus Karlsson & Paul Malmstrom

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Paul Malmstrom and Linus Karlsson
Paul Malmstrom and Linus Karlsson
Our observation is that many successful creative people grew up as nerds—but somehow got out of it and turned into semi-generalist, helicopter people. Also, many are able to strike a perfect balance between true humbleness and frightening egomania. Lastly, exceptional creatives are not sure if they hate or love what they're doing, and everyday is a battle to justify existence and worth.

Our secret has always been that there's no secret. The brain wants to have fun. If you keep thinking about that everyday, you're always going to be interesting and relevant. The brain hates boring and expected. Creativity stems from going about things the wrong way. Irritation is also interesting as a source for inspiration. Why do certain things irritate you? Don't know, but go there. It's more interesting.

Advertising today is where it has always been: caught up in a constant state of discussion of yesterday and tomorrow.

What do we call the things we do? "Stuff" or "things" sounds about right. Seriously, we don't care about the word. It's all semantics and that's a business we know we're not in. We're fine with advertising. It's a nice word, actually it sounds almost wholesome at this point.

The biggest challenge right now is not the economy, it's relevancy. We know it sounds boring to say that but relevancy is all fun; to us it's just being cool and good.

If we had any advice on how to weather the current recession, it would definitely be to remind people that this is the best thing that has happened to our industry since the 1960's. Everyone is questioning the way things have been done. Everyone is looking for the next cool thing. Lots are clients are willing to think new and take risks. What else could you wish for? Isn't this exactly what we have always wanted? Well, it's now. Go out there and do something new.

At the end of the day, we're really good at solving problems together. Sometimes we get cocky and think we can solve any problem. Like one time in Minneapolis, we were convinced that we had figured out a new, faster way to route traffic onto highways (in both directions) without creating the stupid "pringle" that most State Highways use nowadays. However, we were wrong.

We're very bad at being out there: speaking on panels and participating in seminars. We should probably do it but we hate it and that's why we don't do it. However, we make exceptions when it comes to schools. Then, it makes sense.

The single smartest, most well-executed campaign in the past decade was Obama's Presidential campaign. Lots has already been said about it, but it was brilliant and did change the world. Hats off to that.

If we were starting over again, we'd like to be some kind of honorary Creative Ambassadors for Sweden in the United States.

We're inspired by each other in a screwed up Swedish way. We couldn't be more different and we love that. Next year will be our 20th Anniversary as a team, and we're planning to celebrate it as big as we can think. We may even go on a global speaking tour talking about the future of advertising. No we won't.

The last time we laughed out loud together was last Tuesday. We met an architect who convinced us that in our new space everyone should have their own fireplace. That's so incredibly genius!
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