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Creativity Squared: Fernando Hernández on the Importance of Staying Curious


The Rethink group creative director on why creativity should be flexible, trusting one’s gut, and why clients would do well to go back to the basics

Creativity Squared: Fernando Hernández on the Importance of Staying Curious

According to creativity researchers, there are four sides to creativity. Person (personality, habits, thoughts), product (the thing that results from creative activity), process (how you work), and press (environment factors, education and other external factors) all play a part. So, we figured, let’s follow the science to understand your art. Creativity Squared is a feature that aims to build a more well-rounded profile of creative people.

Up today is Fernando Hernández, who has served as Rethink’s group creative director since joining in December 2022. 

With more than 15 years in the industry, working at different agencies in both Latin American and North American markets, Fernando has worked on various global brands including Apple, Google, Meta, IKEA, Virgin Mobile, Samsung, Coca-Cola, DirecTV, P&G, KraftHeinz, McDonald's, SAB Miller, AB InBev, Diageo, Red Cross, and United Nations, among others.

He approaches every project with a mix of strategy and craft, which has led to him earning recognition at almost every international advertising award show, including leading his team to win the first Grand Prix in Colombia's history at Cannes Health Lions in 2014.


It might be hard for a creative person to define what kind of creative they are - at least, it is for me - but if I had to give it a try, I’d say I just like to make stuff. My greatest satisfaction is when things are complete and out there in the world. That’s my fuel.

Personality-wise, I’m also an introvert. At first, I wasn’t comfortable accepting that. Then, I realised that it’s not necessarily a bad thing, and sometimes, it even helps to be more reserved when it comes to being a creative in the ad world. You take your time, react less, analyse more, don’t jump to conclusions so quickly, and listen more. You’re open to other perspectives, and because of that, you can be more empathetic - all great skills when you also have to manage creative talent as well.

Creativity, for me, is more of an external process. That in mind, innate talent is something that I think you can also acquire. It will always depend on the stimuli you’re exposed to. The more you can absorb, the better. 80% happens outside. Then, you just need to connect the dots. My advice would be to be as exposed as possible to the world around you. The idea of the creative type isolated in the middle of nowhere doesn’t track for me. The more you can absorb, the more opportunities you have to find new connections and creative solutions. So, meet more people, travel, eat, listen, and put yourself in uncomfortable situations where you’re out of your element. An innovative product is always the result of some friction, which usually happens when exposed to something new. Stay curious.


Usually, I judge it first from a more emotional viewpoint. Does it make me feel something? Do I care? Do I wish I had thought about that? (That one - envy - is a significant marker for me, but in a good way, haha). How different is it? How fresh does it feel? 

Then, as I'm very visual, I look at the form, and how the piece was executed. I enjoy looking at the details and thinking about how a piece of work was conceived, sold (if we're talking about commercial work), and finally, how it was produced.

As with everything else, the more experience you get, the more finessed your criteria can become, but some things should never be overlooked, like that first visceral response. You must trust your gut, and unfortunately, it’s something that we see less and less these days.


You must create the right environment first. I believe in a collaborative effort, and if you’re working with a team, I usually think about how to make them feel comfortable and inspired in the first step of the process. Then, I think about how to guide them to find the ‘nugget’. That’s my job. After that, it all comes down to detail and how you turn that nugget into something that can extend and live on its own. 

Creativity, by nature, should be very flexible, so I don’t have any techniques for the creative process. You may unconsciously do what has worked for you in the past, but it’s not like checking boxes… At least, it’s not my case. I like to trust the process and follow the flow. Instinct has worked for me well, and I trust mine, so maybe that’s my only tool.

I think I’m a natural mentor, and I enjoy guiding people, so for me, it comes naturally. My job allows me to do that daily, and the chance to nurture and shape creatives and creative talent, and also learn from them every day is something I love and find very rewarding. I’m very aware that I’m a constant learner, too. You have to be. It’s part of the process.


I consider myself lucky; I was born in South America and thinking outside the box comes naturally as part of life. Everyone is equipped to be more flexible and find solutions with limited resources, and that’s kind of a chip we all have. I’ve also been lucky with the last ten years of my career. I had the opportunity to live in different countries and work in foreign markets, exposing me to many other people, challenges, and perspectives. All of that is enriching and an immense tool when it comes to finding creative solutions.

My only advice for clients would be to go back to the basics. Follow your instinct, trust your gut, and be braver every time. Feeling uncomfortable is a good thing.

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Rethink, Tue, 07 Mar 2023 17:01:03 GMT