Pt Chevalier graphic designer releases second book Hunting the Killer Idea

A designer of 20 years, Nick McFarlane explores processes of creative thinking in his new book Hunting the Killer Idea.
HUGH COLLINS/FAIRFAX NZ

A designer of 20 years, Nick McFarlane explores processes of creative thinking in his new book Hunting the Killer Idea.

Designing album art for seminal British band The Prodigy prompted a Kiwi designer to publish a book examining creative processes.

Nick McFarlane spent a little over a year crafting Hunting the Killer Idea, a book which uses a narrative, metaphors and his original design style to explore the inner workings of creativity.

McFarlane said the book explores the subjectivity of creative processes and contains interviews with artists who discuss their own ideas about creativity.

"It's meant to be useful but also a source of inspiration and underlying the whole thing is a narrative that the creative process is like hunting," McFarlane said.

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The book was inspired after the Pt Chevalier resident designed the album art for The Prodigy's sixth studio album The Day is My Enemy which was released in 2015. 

The Prodigy is considered to be on one of the most successful electronic musical groups of all time.

McFarlane, a father-of-three, said principal Prodigy songwriter Liam Howlett stumbled across his work in his first book Spinfluence: The Hardcore Propaganda Manual for Controlling the Masses in an art gallery in London.

"It was a bizarre set of circumstances which led up to me getting an email out of the blue from Liam Howlett."

McFarlane then spent six months crafting the cover art which took 166 different ideas to construct a single image.

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But despite 20 years of design experience McFarlane said Hunting the Killer Idea isn't about telling or giving people his own design formulas.

"I very much took the opinion that I don't know anything about the subject so therefore I was going to try and find as many experts from different fields around the world and get their opinions."

Taking over a year to complete, McFarlane wanted to make the book an "object of desire."

"It's got good print qualities, it looks good and therefore you hope you create something that people want to hold on to.

"I like to design and create real things as opposed to design which ends up as pixels on a screen."  

The "killer idea" is a metaphor for the greatest idea an artist has to track down, McFarlane said. 

"Killer Ideas are out there, powerful and unpredictable. They're the alpha ideas that have to be hunted deep within the jungle of the mind.

 - Stuff

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