September 20, 2017

Five Questions with Tim Murray: Creative Director at Mozilla

Tim Murray, Mozilla’s Creative Director, made waves when his team announced their plans to buck the traditional identity design process by opening it up to feedback from the community. Under Tim’s leadership the Open Design Initiative was launched. The initiative tested the limits of creative collaboration and working in a radically transparent way.

Mozilla’s brand refresh was hugely successful in incorporating external input via open source principles. It was also a lesson to millions that ‘branding’ is about much, much more than just a logo.

Here’s the final result of Mozilla’s innovative creative collaboration:

We’re lucky to have Tim as part of our 2018 speaker lineup and had the opportunity to sit down and talk with him about his personal creative process and history.

What is your relationship to the creative process?

“I start by establishing positioning and personality characteristics at the brand or campaign level so that everyone from business partners to designers shares a common language and criteria for review.

From there – for individual initiatives – I set up my creative teams to do their best work by helping to interpret the problem clearly, shaping the sandbox for exploration, and discovering and talking about existing benchmarks.”

How does that usually pan out?

“We sketch or scrap a few – usually bad examples for how the problem might be solved – which helps everyone realize that we can do better. During the design, writing, or video-editing process, I ask a lot of questions that begin with ‘what if’ and ‘have you considered’ keeping an eye out for things that feel fresh. Mostly I try to get out of the way, trusting the team as experts in their field – sometimes I’m successful at this.”

How or where to you find inspiration?

“I like to eavesdrop on how people talk about pain points in their lives related to the product or service I’m working on – there’s so much inspiration to be gleaned from unique ways people talk about their lives – I’m a terrible dinner companion.” Also, “I’m inspired by natural forms and the beauty of growth and decay.”

What is one of your biggest creative challenges?

“Finding peaceful time to recharge.”

When did you first realize you needed to be in a creative field?

“In third grade, Sister Mary Catherine chose a collage I’d made for an art show. I remember being disappointed that she didn’t select a different artwork that I thought was much better. It was my first realization that I had a discriminating eye.”

BONUS ROUND: What’s on your desk?

Under the green glow of the exit sign over my head is a collection of new Mozilla business card designs and a Valentine’s Day card from my son.

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