Up In The Air / Views From The Red Eye & Exercising The Creative Mind

As the creative director of a branding and packaging design studio, I have to travel quite regularly. From meetings with clients, to colour passing and QC with print partners and manufacturers. I also live and work overseas in Cape Town, so I'm often flying back to the UK with my wife and my little boy to visit our family's. Were only into April and I can count at least fifteen flights this year already.

Yesterday morning I was on the red eye from Cape Town to Durban to work with one of our print partners, colour passing and QC on a new range of labels my studio have just designed. Ive taken the flight many times before, but yesterday something different happenned. For 40 minutes we sat, boarded on the plane as maintenance was carried out. This meant, when the plane finally took off, the sun was just begining to rise. As we rose higher, the view over Cape Town and Table Mountian was just breathtaking. I marvelled in awe at its absolute beauty. Street lights were still illuminated, the sky was a marvellous deep red yet there was a hint of light, allowing you to view the detail of buildings and community.

The red eye flight to Durban takes off at six in the morning so your out of bed at four to drive to the airport, park up and check in. As you can imagine, I am usually fast asleep by the time the flights in the air, especially when I consider the day ahead of me, stood over printing machines, checking colour, with a lot of company money at stake if the client rejects the job due to the colour not being spot on to other labels already in the brand. Today however, I was in absolute wonder of this fantastic view and just couldn't sleep!

I was so in wonder, that by the time I had thought about taking a photo and documenting and sharing this wonderfull vision, the plane had already turned in its course and my first image was looking the oposite way, towards the mountains beyond Stellenbosch. Following that initial realisation, I started to take a couple more shots through the window of the plane. They really are quite stunning and made me once again realise how much we miss each day if we get cought up in our day to day and dont take stock of those magic moments. If the plane had not been delayed and I had fallen asleep, I would of never seen this affirming visual. When mentoring or lecturing design, I often mention something that I call 'learning to unlearn'. It's basically about taking nothing for granted and to remember what it was like to appreciate things for the very first time. You can read more here if your interested. These moments are all such great mind exercises for ideation and creativity. You need to exercise creative thinking in the same way you would exercise when training for a sporting event like a triathlon. Make sure you really see and learn to re discover all that is around you. I would add that it's important to immerse yourself as much as you can in the industry of design and to read as much as you can on design to really find that joy and also excersise your creative brain!

Back in the day, I liked reading the David The Designer blog. Often written with wit and honesty, David himself stopped blogging about design a while back and has since filled his posts with images of his cycling trips. At first, the site didn't hold much interest for me, but as time went on I started to enjoy the articles, mainly as a Brit living in South Africa, it seemed like a small connection back to the UK. As I stared out of the window of the plane yesterday, I also thought that maybe David was really seeing on his bike rides and I guess his curiosity was another reason I liked to check in with his blog these days!

I really hope you like my images from the plane. It was such a beautiful morning and I find it so interesting how the land turns greener as we get closer to Durban. If your viewing this from overseas and have always wondered how it looks here in South Africa (or at least between Cape Town and Durban), I hope that it will be interesting for you!

It was a bit of a shame that I couldn't take a picture of that first view, looking over Cape Town, but sometimes things are better left as just a memory and often never translate well to photos anyway! BTW, I did manage a little sleep eventually on the plane and the press pass was a great success!

If you liked the post, please do let me know! Enjoy the images!!!



Todd Anderson is an award winning British designer, currently based in Cape Town he has worked with some of the worlds largest retailers and hosehold brand names.