If you believe that big data has essentially negated the need for creativity and, more specifically, idea-driven marketing, then feel free to skip this piece and we'll catch you next month. However, if you share our belief that big ideas are still a critical means of differentiation, building brand value and driving sales, then please keep reading as we tap into the creative wisdom of Emilie Baltz, a truly ingenious food experience designer.

Consider, for example, Lickestra, a "licking ice cream orchestra" that Emily co-developed during an artist-in-residency at the School of Visual Arts. The concept blends sound and food into an aural and oral feast, one that is at once surprising and delightful, bringing a newfound perspective on the simple joy of licking ice cream. How one gets to an idea like this is anything but random and can indeed provide insights for those in search of a "C-worthy" approach to creativity.

Curiosity: Explore Worlds Beyond Marketing

Coming from a background in screenwriting and industrial design, as well as modern dance and photography, Baltz can tap into a breadth of experiences. And oh, by the way, she also earned a master's degree at Pratt. "At the heart of having all of these disparate careers in life is that I absolutely adore curiosity and creativity," she explains. The takeaway here, just in case it isn't obvious: to think out of the box, you need to get out of your cube every now and then.

Course of Action: Have One & Stick With It

Baltz credits her time at Pratt with having provided "a foundation that takes you through organizing the creative process." Hers typically starts, not unlike most, by setting goals: "We wanted to make food and sound come together. We wanted to make it interactive and physical. We wanted it to be delightful and joyful." From there, she begins a "complex system of sketching and prototyping" that often includes "many, many ideas." Importantly, her process allows for non-linear experimentation and often involves asking for outside help for a "more objective point of entry into your work."

Collaborate: Call in a Peer (or the Calvary)

Preferring to work with a partner whenever she can, both to complement her expertise and to share the experience, Baltz acknowledges the importance of "mutual commitment." Since she's focused on art that is essentially "two-way," having a second set of eyes and hands is a natural part of her approach. For the partner-resistant, Baltz adds, "What I love about collaboration is that it pushes my boundaries, and I learn much more than just being with myself."

Catalyze: Nothing Spurs Creativity Like a Looming Deadline

Deadlines are not typically associated with the artistic process, but Baltz, for one, fully embraces them as a critical catalyst. "The second that the clock starts ticking, your senses become razor sharp," she exclaims, while adding, "I know that neurologically it lights up parts of my brain." Baltz links this sensitivity to a professional work ethic, explaining, "Self-discipline is one of the things I admire most in people, because it's very, very challenging as a creative." Her solution to producing art all the time may also surprise you: "Treat it like a job."

Care: Throw Your Heart Into It

Baltz also created the L.O.V.E. Foodbook that she describes as a "cookbook about love," which also turned out to be a labor of love. After selling the idea to a French publisher, Baltz traveled around the world, interviewing 15 chefs and photographing collages that expressed their "definition of love in food." The book is stunningly appetizing and reflects the contagious passion of Baltz, a passion to which all creative wannabes should aspire.

Circumspection: How to Know Your Idea's Fresh

If you've ever tried to come up with a fresh idea at work, then hopefully you've asked yourself, "Is that any good?" Baltz believes that "the best ones [evoke] a magical 'duh,'" which belied a far deeper insight. "The 'duh' is the revelation that all the pieces are fitting together," explains Baltz, who acknowledges that all her training, all her different experiences, all her experimentation during her organized process enable her "duh" to be magical indeed.

As always, if you’re in need of some fresh ideas, feel free to give Renegade a call. In the meantime, click here to see Drew's complete interview with Ms. Baltz.