I just read a theater review of a new production of Sophocles' "Antigone" in The New York Times. It said the director Anne Bogart is a "member of the New York avant-garde establishment."
This line really struck me as an example of what is wrong with our "creative community." Almost by definition, you can't have an avant garde establishment. The minute you are part of an establishment, you are no longer avant garde.
One of the phrases I often jab clients with is an oxymoron of my own creation: "proven breakthrough."
Here's the deal clients and agencies, you get one or the other. If you want avant garde and breakthrough, you don't get establishment and proven. My point, I hope, is simple: Creativity is the result of experimentation. It's grasping the un-explored and hoping its surprise and intrusiveness will be salutary. You can't do that in a risk-free way. Despite agency committees, client conferences, focus group insights, the reports from Dynamic Logic and the "intelligence" of best practices, there is no creativity without risk.