Read and Reflect

Five Improv Techniques for the Creative Process


“Yes, and.” It’s a phrase repeated constantly by improv teachers. The “yes, and” philosophy is a simple concept that has governed improv practice for years. A similar practice has installed itself in the Real Art community over the years. In this post, we look five ways improv makes its way into our creative process.

Here is how the “Yes, and” philosophy works in improv. If I start a scene with, “Wow, it sure is cold up here on the moon!” and you say, “The moon? We’re not floating so this isn’t the moon.” Well, now I’ve got to wrangle the scene in another direction while keeping the audience engaged.

On the other hand, if I say, “Wow, it sure is cold up here on the moon!” and you say, “Yes, and it smells like cheese,” now we’ve got a scene on our hands! It’s all about suspension of disbelief and deciding anything is possible. Just because it hasn’t been done doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

At first glance, a creative agency like Real Art seems worlds away from improvisation. However, the longer I work at Real Art and the more I hone my improv skills, the more commonality I see between these two hubs of art and creation. Beginning with the obvious…

1. Say Yes

With improv, a simple “yes” can turn a stage into a carnival or an ocean. It can make your team member a cop, an alien, even a vacuum. In turn, saying “yes” during the creative process can turn a meeting into a creative brainstorm where ideas become reality. Collaboration begins with encouragement. When Real Art teams up to begin a project, the ideas flow freely and improve with each “yes, and.

2. Take Risks

Improv has no redos–there is no unsaying the gobbledygook that comes out. Rather than letting that tear you down, the goal is to take it as an opportunity to justify everything that happens. Be proud of what you said and make others believe in it. Real Art’s creative process often involves wild ideas, but with each nutcase comes an explanation that makes them seem sane. Our ability and confidence in justifying our thoughts has pushed us to create incredible work.

3. Chill Out

It’s easy to overthink on stage, but it always results in freezing up. Relax and let intuition drive–if you get too in your head about each decision, progress is stagnated. Real Art is full of creative, intelligent people who can see and create art in anything. We trust those around us to support our moves which relaxes our whirring minds and makes way for creative development.

4. Have My Back

A popular improv practice is to say “I’ve got your back” before going on stage. No matter what happens, you go in a team and come out a team. Find people who make you feel confident in that. Real Art has assembled a team over the years that always feels confident in taking on wild projects together.

5. Create a Story

In the end, improve and marketing are both about storytelling. Try to create a world and a narrative that your audience can relate to. Come from a real place rather than making up nonsensical bits because they seem funny or daring. Real Art improvises every day–we create rad solutions from nutty ideas. No day is the same, but in the end we have a story and quietly alone in our offices, we sometimes take a bow.


The use of improv techniques is not limited to creative agencies. Put these five practices to work and see how things begin to improve. “Yes, and…”

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