Starting a creative project? First task: pick these brains

We asked some of our creative catalysts for advice on how they do what they do

Phillip McMahon

What should you do when your key prop doesn't look as it should? When there's no time to replace it, improvise. Often, adapting and working with what you have instead of what you want is a key part of making something happen. However, if there is time to replace it, then replace it. Attention to detail is everything.
Do Be open to change. The person who adapts learns most and goes furthest.
Don't Be a d**k. I haven't met a single person who wants to work with rude, arrogant or grumpy people.
Essential item: Laptop. The world at your fingertips.
Trade secret: Confidence, ambition, passion and an excellent taste level.

Philip King
Other Voices

How do you get music superstars to Dingle? When you land in west Kerry, you have fallen into the place where everything is music. For many years now, word has been travelling out of the west via tall tales and millions of smartly delivered messages that make us considerable and a consideration.

Other Voices has uniquely fused the intimacy of the gathering itself, the musical legacy on which it builds, the inspiring and creative possibilities of the Dingle Peninsula, and a succession of digital-technology firsts to create emotional bonds of trust, affection and goodwill between the artists, Other Voices, Dingle, Derry, London and New York.
Do Have a great team. Love the music with abandon. Learn to fail better.
Don't Ever take no for an answer, ever be crippled by rejection, ever worry about the weather.
Essential item Trust.
Trade secret It's cooler at the edge.

Mary Nally
Drop Everything

How do you throw a party on an island? It really depends on the scale of the party. If it's multi-event, Drop Everything style, then make damn sure you have a producer as good as Síomha Nee.


But whatever the scale, the main thing is respect for everything: the space, the artists, the audience and your team. On an island, first and foremost, respect the local community. This is their home, not yours. Get to know them. Don't take the piss, and make sure your attendees don't either. So lead by example and the lolz will be life-changing.
Do Make sure you leave the place as immaculate as you found it.
Don't Mess with Mama Nature and do something stupid like throw a rave on a cliff edge.
Essential item The right attitude. And maybe a decent extension lead.
Trade secret I have a few. But do you really think I'm going to let them be published in a national newspaper?

Shane Langan
Diet of Worms

How do you write comedy? Whatever way you find most fun. When a writer is enjoying what they write, it's palpable. Find like-minded people who are generous and fun to be around, and write with them. Make each other laugh. Push each other.
Do Get your material in front of an audience, any audience, asap. It's the only way you'll really know if it's any good.
Don't Be precious. Butcher your darlings without mercy.
Essential item A notebook.
Trade secret Writing comedy is really hard. Harder than you ever imagined. But very worth it.

Aisling Farinella
Thread magazine

How do you start a fashion magazine? You need to have tons of energy and drive and passion to get it started. Hopefully this enthusiasm will prevent you from thinking about what it really means to produce a magazine. Then, if it's good, you'll be so happy, creatively enriched and proud that you'll find a way to keep it going.
Do Think about what you personally want to read and what images you want to produce. There are so many amazing magazines out there, so what are you offering that will be fresh and interesting?
Don't Be restricted by boundaries.
Essential item A like-minded team.

Joshua Gordon

How do you start a clothing brand? Jumping in head first with a good idea and seeing where it takes you.
Do Work with people who know what they're doing. Once the right illustrators, pattern cutters, photographers and copywriters are on board, then you're sorted.
Don't Do what everyone else is doing. Find a little niche you're interested in, and develop it until you have something special.
Trade secret Do it because you love it. Ignore the fact that you may be broke for a couple of years while funding everything, because, with a bit of graft and good ideas, it'll all happen eventually.

Kathy Scott

How do you fund a Fringe project? Dream big. Prepare a realistic budget. Seek advice. Weigh up pros and cons. Brainstorm on how you can get it across the line. Think about your resources and contacts around the world and draw up a big map of action. If it needs more love and support, consider crowd funding.
Do Tell everyone. Bring a brilliant team together. Stay focused. Believe in yourself and visualise yourself on the other side.
Don't Have regrets. Don't set targets that may be unreasonable in the timeframe available to you. Don't stalk people asking for support – be discerning.
Essential items Courage. A belief in serendipity and random acts of kindness. And a back-up plan.
Trade secret Remember why you do what you do and how it makes you come alive.