How to get the most out of your brief


At some stage of our lives, we will either be on the receiving end of a brief, or giving one. Creative briefs are special little beasts of their own – mainly because when dealing with a creative, one sometimes takes that word literally, or sometimes one is unsure exactly of all the detail necessary to effectively communicate what it is that you’re needing.

To give you some examples, here are some things that can possibly go wrong when instructions are a little vague.

Briefing disasters


Perhaps it’s good to check how your logo will behave on a new item before you sign off production.

Perhaps it’s good to check how your logo will behave on a new item before you sign off production.

Always good to brief the designer of the direction that the item must face.

Always good to brief the designer of the direction that the item must face.

Be as specific as possible. With briefs, instructions will always be taken literally.

Be as specific as possible. With briefs, instructions will always be taken literally.

When it comes to effective briefing, visual references and written instructions are always appreciated. While doing some research, we did have a good giggle at some of the instructions that drive creatives mad…

What not to say in your brief

You’re creative, you figure it out.

I’m not sure. Try something else.

Try a more powerful colour.

It’s not wow enough.

 Make it pop.


So, how do you get the most of the briefing process?

Have a budget in mind

Know your budget for the project, or per product. With the cost of raw materials, plus the time needed to execute, having an idea of the price-point you are looking for really helps when putting something together. Be as specific you can with the budget. If you give too large a range, this can cause an overheating of heads trying to work out if you want cheap or high-end, detailed or simple, etc.

Use references but not rip offs

With the information you are giving on your brief, visual references / CAD drawings / colour-swatches / googled images, etc are received with open arms. Be careful to keep your references original – don’t make one creative copy another creatives’ work (that’s a no-no in the underworld of original work and respect for artistry), rather give some strong guidance and direction in terms of what you want – and of course an idea of size will also help prevent any surprises later!

 Clear OCD instructions

 What can I say here? The more detail, the better. If something needs to be 17.31cm exactly with 3 and a half rows of red beads, then rather write a thesis of instructions than end up with something that is slightly out of what you wanted. Most of the time, you, the person tasked with briefing the creative have in turn probably been briefed by someone else (a client or a boss), and we want you to be the hero by wowing them with what you have sourced – so be detailed with your instructions, we certainly love that very much!



Artistic Expression



They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – unless you’re an artist trying to make a living that is…


With wire-art being endemic to Southern Africa, there are so many talented wire-artists around. Along with such creative talent also comes the pressure to sell – and a lot of artists take inspiration from what products are selling well elsewhere, to make a living. With a substantial (upfront) cash investment into raw materials that artists have to make in order to be able to create pieces, one does understand the urgency and pressure to find and create that ‘winning’ design that the market is currently hungry for. Sometimes, unfortunately this often happens in reverse with client requests, reinforcing a message that copying instead of creative expression is okay.

Here at Streetwires, we sometimes get requests to copy a sample that a client has purchased or photographed elsewhere. This is something we politely decline to do, as we take the ‘art part’ of wire-art very seriously and believe inspiration, signature and style is unique to each crafter, or group – and prefer to develop the quality and art side of the craft. We also like to encourage our artists to come up with new ideas or interpretations on a theme to keep our offering fresh.

What really is fascinating as part of this process is to see everyone’s unique ‘signature’ or understanding of a new idea presented to them. Let’s dive in and see what we mean about art and interpretation. Maybe this will inspire you to explore and try something new!

Here is a digital idea sketch that came from a client brief.


Here are the interpretations from 3 different artists.

 streetwires-bonsai-tree-bead-and-wire-detail streetwires-bonsai-tree-bead-and-wire-example-2 streetwires-bonsai-tree-bead-and-wire-example-1

And here’s the final approved product.


They are all true-to-brief, and all magnificent, but definitely show how many different styles and ideas that come from creative crafters.

I think this gives a good example of how one can put their own twist on something. Be it in the style, technique, or raw materials used.

So never forget, as an artist brainstorming some product development, there are so many subjects of inspiration around – just a walk, or listening to a song, looking at a magazine, or watching people in a taxi can bring some amazing ideas.. Also feel free to research what is working out there (a good example is the fact that each season brings a new colour palette trend – go and look at the lastest paint swatches in a hardware store for ideas). If one wants to rejuvenate a product range that may have stagnated, a great way to do this is to try a few pieces out in the new season colours. You may just be surprised!

And saying that, as a customer, it is one’s responsibility to encourage creative interpretation and not to commission artists to copy other people’s work. Make sure you always go directly to the source. If cost is an issue, speak to the artist. There may be different ways (or materials) to create the product cheaper. This is something we always accommodate at Streetwires, with careful consideration to paying a fair wage for that piece.

And if you have a new idea for a commission, don’t be scared to share it – everyone creative likes to try something new, and the best way is via collaboration. It’s the only way to keep this art alive. We for one would be very happy to help!