'I Love It. What Is It?' with Gyles Lingwood

Tell us a little bit about yourself…
Hello. I’m Professor of Business Creativity at the University of Lincoln and Director of Education for the College of Arts, Social Sciences & Humanities (half the university). Before I moved into higher education I worked in the graphic design, branding, and advertising industry as a ‘creative’, producing work for major brands at many of the large agencies in central London. 

My academic life has two aspects: firstly, as Director of Education, I work closely with the nine schools in the College (the schools of Architecture; Design; Creative Arts; Film, Media & Journalism; Heritage & Humanities; International Business; Law; Education; and Social & Political Sciences) to ensure that the learning, teaching and the student experience are as good as they possibly can be. Secondly, as Professor of Business Creativity, I study, consult, teach, train, and publish outputs about business success and growth, all seen through the lens of developing and applying creativity skills to solve business problems and create value across wide-ranging disciplines and sectors.


How did the opportunity to work on 'I Love It. What Is It?' come around?

In 2014 I published my first book: ‘Read Me – 10 Lessons for Writing Great Copy’ (co-authored with Roger Horberry) and in 2022 I published the third edition of ‘Copywriting – Successful Writing for Design, Advertising and Marketing’ (co-authored with the late Mark Shaw). Both books combine lessons and advice for producing great customer-facing brand writing supported by lots of real-world examples and case studies. One of the case studies that I featured in ‘Copywriting…’ was the brilliant self-promo website for copywriter Joe Coleman (getcoleman.com). Joe is a freelance copywriter for Turner Duckworth, and when Joanne and Sarah mentioned to him that they were thinking of producing a book, he told them I was the person they needed to speak to. So on 15th February 2022, completely out of the blue, I received an email from Sarah. Two years later ‘I Love it. What is it? – The Power of Instinct in Design and Branding’ was published.



What inspired the book’s title?
The book is a collection of very different stories, think pieces, images, and essays by talented and successful individuals, many of whom have had varied and wide-ranging connections with Turner Duckworth over the past thirty years. The pieces have been written from the heart about the power of following the heart, exploring themes of courage, passion, heart-over-head decision-making, conviction, single-minded belief, and doing what feels right. In the commercial world, where originality and innovation are essential, relying exclusively on rational, systematic thinking can limit the production of creative ideas. These wonderful and compelling tales, valuable lessons and beautiful imagery explore what happens when you listen to your inner voice, rather than simply following the business textbook. As Bruce Lee said in the classic 1973 martial arts film, Enter The Dragon, “Don’t Think. Feel”. 



How did you work with the contributors?
The contributors have each interpreted the theme in their own way, telling thought-provoking and often entertaining stories, sharing advice and opinions that celebrate the different aspects of the world of branding and design. My role was to get the stories out of them. That sounds incredibly simple, doesn’t it? And in one or two cases it was, but with most of the contributors, I worked closely with them to freely explore and discuss the different aspects of the book’s theme, and then, utilizing the different techniques and approaches that I’ve developed over the years, I supported, challenged, and encouraged each of the contributors, helping them capture and craft their stories in the most engaging way possible.



What did you find most enjoyable about the experience?
It’s always hard work to create a book – they require so much time, energy, optimism, and patience – but this project was a real labor of love. It was such a delight to work with Sarah and Joanne to create something so beautiful, unique, and intellectually engaging. To be honest, producing ‘I Love it. What is it?’ was no different to any creative project: it started with a small idea and through continual nurturing, challenging, commitment, determination, encouragement, hard work, and lots and lots of love, it’s grown into the finished book that we’re all incredibly proud of. Working with all the contributors was wonderful and an experience I will always remember fondly and cherish. Getting to know each of them, travelling with them on their unique intellectual journeys, and guiding, helping and supporting them to produce their final piece for the book was so rewarding. As you can probably tell – I loved this project.



Were there any unexpected twists or turns in the project that you didn't anticipate? How did you navigate those challenges?
Not really. I had written two books before, so I knew what was coming when we started this project. But if I had to choose one thing, I guess the most surprising aspect of the project was the number of times that legal restrictions prevented us from using so many great images. I won’t go into the details here (of course), but the significant differences in legal attitudes towards what text and images can and cannot be reproduced in a book in America compared to the UK was a surprise (and often a disappointment) to me. 

Can you highlight a specific aspect of the book that you are particularly proud of?
So many things. The idea and angle of the book, the rich variety of the content, the wide range of readers that will find it interesting and useful, the advice that it contains, the intellectual ideas that the book explores… everything! All of this is brought together so brilliantly through the book’s fantastic design, designed by the Turner Duckworth team of Andy Baron and Robert Williams. I can’t stress enough what an amazing job they’ve done. The book is beautiful. Again, a true labor of love. 



What do you hope readers will take away from reading the book?
Inspiration, from all the stories, advice, and images that the book contains, and permission. Permission to follow your heart rather than your head. We are all navigating a world of ever-increasing data, analytics, algorithms, and artificial intelligence, and I think this book can be seen as an antidote. Instinct helps us identify patterns and explore new connections, enabling us to approach a problem from new perspectives, challenge assumptions, or find unconventional solutions. We may not be entirely aware of why certain things seem to work, but we can often feel that they do. This book encourages readers to value and trust that feeling. 


Can you share any advice for aspiring authors or individuals interested in getting involved in similar creative projects?
Don’t write the book that you want to write, write the book that people will want to read. It’s all about the audience. This may sound odd and probably contradicts a lot of advice out there for creative writers, but if you’re looking to work with an established publisher, you need to give serious consideration to the questions ‘What makes this book different from all the other titles out there?’ and ‘Will people actually want to read this?’. 



What's next for you creatively?
I always have loads of creative projects on the go at the same time, but one of my biggest passions is gardening. I love how gardening teaches you to be patient and how it forcibly slows you down to the true pace of nature. It’s all about investing in the future and is a creative project that’s never finished. Spring is rapidly approaching, so if you’ll excuse me, I’m off outside to plant some more bulbs, clear the beds, mulch them with compost, and clean the greenhouse. Bye!

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