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Creativity Squared: Seeing the Magic in Small Things with Aida Sa'ad


Vaynermedia APAC's senior art director on being a sunshiny type of person, doing all things with wide open eyes and chasing the struggling artist's dream

Creativity Squared: Seeing the Magic in Small Things with Aida Sa'ad

Aida is an illustrator whose artwork is colourful, sometimes whimsical and sometimes drawn from real life. Sometimes humorous and sometimes heartfelt. Sometimes drawn within comic frames, sometimes on walls. But always extra and always very fun. 


I dress in bold colours, my art pseudonym has the word ‘yellow’ in it, and I am drawn to bright and playful illustrations. As a result, people see me as the cheerful, seize-the-day-sunshiny type. 

But I’d like to think that I’m also very in tune with reality - I like to listen and observe the world around me quite keenly. So I think that my personality is someone who chooses to be idealistic and give myself wholeheartedly to the things I care about, despite the odds. 

I believe in seeing magic in small things. One of my favourite personal works is a series of comics that are inspired by 'boring' trips to the dentist

I think people have a natural need to express themselves - look at children and crayons! We just supplement that voice by learning certain skills as we grow up - art, music, science, etc. And people who do that up to certain qualifications or within certain industries get to label themselves 'creative'. But that doesn’t mean creativity is restricted to those vocations. In fact, I think it’s unwise to attach too much meaning and importance to the word. 

I truly believe that everyone has a story to tell that is theirs alone, and that point of view is powerful and special and therefore when expressed, innately creative. 

I would definitely say I'm an introvert. Isolation during covid was a dream. I also enjoy solitary activities like sewing, reading and long-distance running. 

I think routine and discipline are the ingredients needed to channel creative chaos towards a tangible outcome. But routines are SO HARD to stick to because systems and order seem so intuitively at odds with the freely-floating, shapeless form that is creativity. I think the people who are able to tame that - to shape their mind’s restless rhythms into music are those who are most successful.

When it comes to 'creative stuff', I am drawn to creative hobbies that are similar to the work I do - sewing, reading, drawing, making things with my hands, etc. But I do believe all experiences can have the same effect if you approach them with curiosity. 

My favourite part about creativity is that one realm always adds to another. Magic is in the small everyday things. My nightly ‘mindless’ scrolls on Instagram can lead to an interesting social observation that inspires my work at the office the next day. A conversation with a teammate can also be fodder for a comic I’ll draw in my free time for fun. An evening run at the beach can have the same brain-stimulating effect as the popular ‘creative epiphany in the shower’ that happens to many. 

So take all the breaks, and do all the things you want. Just do them with wide open eyes and a big heart. 


I think true creativity is making something out of nothing. That could look like inventing a shiny new product on the market, creating visual art masterpieces on Excel sheets, or even making someone laugh. 

In my experience, the criteria shifts with context. 

Before I worked in Advertising, I chased the struggling artist's dream - having my own studio, clocking in at my own hours, being my own boss - the works. When it comes to personal work, the output you create tends to look and feel 'truly creative': pure expression, no KPIs, the sky’s the limit and all that. 

Five years into life as a corporate cog in the world of Advertising, my professional ideas don’t look as fancy or as fun as my personal work, but I’ve grown to appreciate another measure of what it means to be 'truly creative' - when you have to produce creative work WITHIN budget constraints, timelines, business expectations and with target audiences in mind.

My proudest work is a personal piece - Hullabaloo, 2018 - an interactive playground installation at The Artground. I have two younger sisters with special needs and they inspire the work that I do and how I see the world. 

I wanted to create a rainbow-themed playground, inspired by my sister Aisha who has Autism. People with Autism love routine, so Aisha tends to get fixated on certain things for a period of time. She spent a whole year being obsessed with rainbows. 

She loves drawing, and she would draw rainbows every day - but not your usual semi-circle ones. She dreamt up zig-zag rainbows, squiggly rainbows, upside-down rainbows, rainbow smiley faces, rainbow everything! 

Rainbow prata, rainbow pants, rainbow sailboats... discovering a new ‘rainbow’ creation each day made me smile, and I thought they were an inspiring example of what creativity truly is: No limits. A mundane thing turned magical. I wanted people to know how brilliant she was, an artist in her own right. 

When The Artground approached me for a collaboration in 2018, I jumped at the opportunity to capture Aisha’s rainbow hullabaloo in a space people can enter - something like walking into her world and seeing how she sees things. Rainbows don’t have to be semi-circles in the sky. They can be slides or tunnels you can crawl under; turned into hills you can climb, or a kaleidoscope of colour you can lie down under. Hullabaloo was a celebration of Aisha’s way of looking at the world - sometimes silly but always fun. Kids loved it. They are the experts at fun. 

A lot of brands are chasing relevance right now, and that often looks like tapping into trends and hot conversations that are happening at the moment. I get that, but it always makes me restless for 'what’s next'. What can we do in a year’s, two years’ time that’s new and fresh? 

I also notice that creators are increasingly touting the 'exclusive' - what with NFTs and edition-1-of-1s and all that. While I get why consumers and brands like the prestige that comes with something rare and exclusive, I do wish we could give more freely instead of holding our treasures close to our hearts. This might be idealistic but I believe that creative output should be more accessible and inclusive.


When I start a creative project, I look for references on Pinterest, TikTok, or any visual / design sites to see how other people have interpreted similar projects before. I pick pieces that I resonate with and try to understand why those works are appealing to me. Then I set that feeling of “I love this so much I wish I created that” as the goalpost. They say aim for the moon. 

When I get stuck I do find that switching up your medium helps. For example – starting with a sketch on paper (with crayons! with your left hand! while on the treadmill!) instead of a blank Photoshop document might force your brain to bend in a different way, lending a fresh point of view to the problem at hand. Try new things, and talk to new people. 

I definitely the opposite problem when it comes start staring a project as a blank sheet - too many new projects, too little time. I get excited easily at the possibilities that come with new ideas. My hands cannot catch up. 

I prefer to work collaboratively…but very, very begrudgingly. Working alone always seems desirable because you have more control over the outcome, but as they say, you cannot go far alone. Discovering that I can do more in a team, and leaning on my teammates’ strengths and skills has always led to a pleasant larger-than-life type of outcome. 

I always joke that if you give me one day to do a task, I’ll take exactly one day to do it. If you give me one year to do that same task, I’ll take exactly that. The work will never be ‘done’ and I think the discomfort and unpredictability and “is it good enough yet?” “what more can I add?” is what makes it fun sometimes.


I grew up in Singapore. My mom was a literature tutor and my dad worked in the creative field. Though they never really encouraged me to study art formally in school, I’ve always been interested in drawing, music, and the arts in general. 

A large part of my life is influenced by my two younger sisters who have special needs. My sisters taught me to see the world from different points of view from a young age –– that you can communicate without words, and that being different can become your superpower if you keep at it. Daily life at home with people who have very diverse needs was unpredictable and that taught me to roll with the punches, to always look for the fun in chaos, and to see magic in small everyday things. 

I am lucky to be surrounded by friends and family who were total enablers. In secondary school, I bought S$5 white canvas shoes from the market and drew on them with paint because I thought it’d be fun to wear shoes that represented what you felt on any given day. I made customised shoes for people that captured their personalities or drew on shoes to ‘match’ the seasons in my life. 

It was so self-indulgent and silly but I think that impulse to just do things, make things, inspired by what I felt or observed in my day-to-day, was that creative energy that I got to hone through my ‘nonsense’ personal projects. 

In junior college, the months leading up to the A-Levels were filled with dreadful ‘common tests’. I remember making a doodle depicting how terrible each paper made me feel, after every test. For example, feeling ‘Poisson-ed’ by the Poisson distribution graphs in the Mathematics exam. Or Literature, being smothered to death by a pillow, in the style of Shakespeare’s Othello murdering his wife. 

The stick figure drawings found an audience in my friends, who found them funny and relatable. Even teachers became seemingly more interested in the drawings than in how I actually fared in those exams. 

I entered those amateurish doodles and projects into a portfolio that earned me a spot at NTU’s School of Art, Design and Media (ADM), and that’s when I started to look at design/art more seriously and formally.

I found confidence in an audience that welcomed and found joy in those light hearted pictures, during a particularly stressful period in life. And I guess that’s the outcome I want to achieve still, today, no matter the medium or skill of expression. 

It can truly depend what external factors help my own creativity succeed. Pressure makes diamonds but pressure can tip into the kind of pain that paralyses you when you’re not equipped to handle it. I think it’s important to keep yourself on your toes, but only when you’re in the right headspace to tackle that discomfort head-on. 

I like how VaynerMedia champions its employee’s side hustles and passion projects. As a result, there is a culture of mutual respect for one another, and curiosity (read: geeking out) about one another’s interests. We take turns to lead informal art jams and creative workshops after work hours for fun, even if they’re outside of our realm of work –– for example, sculpting balloons, beading jewellery, and making clay figurines. We make time to play together, and I think that adds to one’s sense of creativity and teamwork AS MUCH AS, say, working on a pitch together. 

I do believe that when it comes to Creativity, one realm always adds to another, and that magic is in everyday things. :-)

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VaynerMedia APAC, Thu, 25 May 2023 10:58:26 GMT