I learned a lot from Steve Paskin. Steve was an art director at Lowe during the time that we (innocent) worked with them, and he worked on most of our campaigns. He's a gentle, generous man, a great art director and a good writer, even though he might not consider that last bit to be his thing.
Before I met Steve I would always start off trying to have ideas by writing things and perhaps doodling a bit. Words would always feature heavily, as that's what I consider myself to be best at – writing. So that's where I thought my best ideas would come from. But then I started watching Steve, observing how he had his ideas, and he did it differently, usually by leafing through seemingly random scrapbooks and books full of photos and art, until he'd find something that might start a train of thought.
Now, this may not be a revelation to those of you who are art directors. This may be the way things get done. But for me it was new. And since I watched Steve do it, I've tried it myself, to good effect (good for me anyway). I came up with ideas that I would never have got to with words and scamps and doodles alone.
I've never worked at an agency and so I was always grateful to the creatives who'd let me sit in their office and talk crap with them, and watch them at work. Steve was one of those kind people, and one of the loveliest, most honest people I have met so far in advertising. Great artist, excellent ad man. You should have a look at his new site and get him to come and work his magic on whatever you're doing next.