10 YouTube channels to ignite your creative spark
Multidisciplinary insights from Creators to help you on your creative path
Welcome back to Better by Design. If you’re new here, I’m Pat 👋. I’m a liberal arts kid, turned advertiser, turned engineer, turned designer and this is my weekly newsletter where I put my multidisciplinary toolkit to the test to help you create better.
This week, I’m deep in the throes of packing my life into boxes to move back across the country to Los Angeles from North Carolina. With that in mind, let’s keep it lightweight but informative today, shall we?
I’m feeling more inspired than ever by big “C” Creators. While everyone has relative strengths and weaknesses, in most cases, Creators are deeply multidisciplinary by necessity. They’re a newfangled kind of bootstrapped entrepreneur that’s operating in the modern digital ecosystem. To me, it’s fascinating to see where they excel, where they lack, and what their unique backgrounds bring to the table in terms of reinterpreting business and creative principles for a new age.
Here are 10 of my favorite channels that I turn to when considering ideas for my own artistic and entrepreneurial ambitions. For each Creator, I’ll include a brief summary, a creative lesson I think we can learn, and links to two videos (my personal choice and the most viewed). I hope you find some new inspiration and start to realize the latent power of your creative toolkit in the digital marketplace!
In a time when most things are all-digital all the time, Van Neistat is decidedly analog. Watching him solve problems, build experiences, and tell stories is awe-inspiring from start to finish. Decades of experience as a collaborator with Tom Sachs combine to give Van a creative toolkit unlike any other Creator (except for maybe his brother, Casey, of course).
Creative lesson: Personalization
Van personalizes everything. That goes for things he makes for himself, things he gives as gifts, and every video he creates. These are little, human details that don’t scale and that can’t be automated and their magic is increasingly rare these days. Seek them!
Pat’s choice: The Rules of Gifting
Most views: We Are In A "FOURTH TURNING," What Does That Mean?
NeverTooSmall showcases brilliant designs of small homes across the world. But don’t get too hung up on the size of the apartments. Instead, focus on how the size constraint of each home forces the resident to get creative and be intentional about their use of the space.
Creative lesson: Embracing constraints
When it comes to sparking creativity, constraints are your friend.
Take my chosen video as an example of how you can embrace a constraint in an unexpected way; the featured designer somehow manages to thrive in smaller-space living while also embracing a maximalist design aesthetic.
The only real limitation is your own ability to let go and work with what you have.
Pat’s choice: Architect’s DIY Beachside Apartment: Sydney 51sqm/549sqf
Most views: 24sqm/258sqft Micro Apartment - Boneca
Colin & Samir
Colin & Samir focus on telling the stories of other Creators and digging into the business side of what makes their work… well… work.
Creative lesson: Curiosity
Colin & Samir bring a genuine curiosity to understanding each of the Creators they talk to. Whether that’s Cassey Ho (featured above), Mr. Beast, or one of the many other Creators they’ve interviewed Colin & Samir are always prepped to go deep in an approachable way.
Pat’s choice: How She Built One of YouTube’s Biggest Brands (Blogilates)
Most views: We spent 24 hours with MrBeast
Dami is an architect and uses her keen eye for design from that discipline to break down aspects of modern life and urban planning.
Creative lesson: Connection
Dami’s ability to connect the dots between architecture and other parts of pop culture shines in her videos. As a creative person, it’s easy to take your ability to notice patterns for granted, but this is your friendly reminder that that’s an uncommon trait! Most people don’t watch Blade Runner and think “How is this related to the Brutalist architecture we see in the real world?” But that’s what makes it special!
Pat’s choice: CyberPunk Cities: Fiction or Reality
Most views: This city concept breaks architecture (THE LINE)
Struthless (Cam Walker)
Cam Walker’s channel is a great guide for creatives. His background is in illustration and graphic design, so he pairs pieces on design-specific topics like fonts and soulless corporate art with pieces on more general “life as a creative” wisdom.
Creative lesson: Authenticity
Despite not knowing him, Cam feels like an old friend. Like someone I could talk to about just about anything over a cup of coffee. He has an easygoing nature and is much more open about how he’s feeling than the average person in real life or online. It takes a lot of hard, introspective work to reach that level of comfort with oneself and to share it with the world, but it resonates deeply when it finds its tribe.
Pat’s choice: The problem with the internet that no one is talking about
Most views: 7 things I wish I knew at 20
Turning the tables
It’s a dead simple setup. A father-son duo listens to records together and enjoys the heck out of them.
Creative lesson: Appreciation
When was the last time you sat and appreciated an album front-to-back? Months? Years? I know that I, for one, am guilty of allowing music to become background music in recent years. But there’s a deeper satisfaction to be found when you focus your attention on the art; when you fully listen instead of merely hearing. The moments when you allow yourself to be moved are the moments you learn what you like and dislike, which is critical in the pursuit of developing your taste and connecting with others who might share it.
Pat’s choice: Dad Reacts to Radiohead - In Rainbows
Most views: Dad Reacts to Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Amelia hit it big with her intensely quirky Chicken Shop Date videos. She’s since expanded into other series and her personality always stands out.
Creative lesson: Commitment to the bit
Simply put, if Amelia wasn’t 100% committed to the bit in Chicken Shop Date it would have failed. The intentionally awkward vibe demands full commitment in order to resonate as funny, otherwise, it’d just be actually awkward AF. The shtick is what gives the series its unique charm and what helped spur its widespread appeal via golden moments like the Louis Theroux rap that spawned millions of TikTok remixes.
Pat’s choice: LOUIS THEROUX | CHICKEN SHOP DATE
Most views: CHUNKZ AND YUNG FILLY | CHICKEN SHOP DATE
Johnny Harris is a journalist turned Creator who covers a wide range of topics with his independent team.
Creative lesson: Pacing
Johnny’s videos are a masterclass in pacing. Every moment and element feels intentionally placed to bring the audience along with him on the journey of discovery he’s trying to communicate. Achieving that feeling requires a high level of skill and effort across writing, music production, video editing, and on-camera performance, but the result feels effortless. Considering how your audience experiences your work over time is critical for engagement in any media, be it video, music, or software.
Pat’s choice: How The U.S. Ruined Bread
Most views: The REAL Reason McDonalds Ice Cream Machines Are Always Broken
In their own words, Future Proof “highlights the efforts of brands and corporations to make business better for the future… or the lack thereof.”
Creative lesson: Consideration
A lot of the products that Future Proof reviews are items that we take for granted: household items like coffee pods and apparel like jackets. As a creative person, it’s particularly important to take a step back every now and then to consider those things. How do you actually feel about them? Do they align with the life you want to create for yourself? Most people just forge ahead and never stop to consider, but making that space to reflect can lead to important insights.
Pat’s choice: The Difference Between North Face And Patagonia
Most views: The TRUTH About Coffee Pods
Marc is a tour-de-force multi-instrumentalist and improvisational musician. He blew up while playing live streams in the early days of the pandemic and hasn’t looked back, taking his act around the world and even to the main stage of this year’s Coachella!
Creative lesson: Joy
Marc’s joy is infectious to the extent that he can live stream from the living room of his apartment and connect with millions or set up shop on a street corner in Manhattan and attract a big audience. Similar to Amelia, he’s always 110% committed to his act and it’s so clear that he’s having an amazing time that you can’t help but feel that you should be having a great time too!
Pat’s choice: WE OUTSIDE - Lafayette & Spring
Most views: YOUR NEW MORNING ALARM
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Absolute gem of a list. These are all no-skip channels. Nice work—and impeccable taste—Patrick!
I love Struthless! Cam did a wonderful deep dive into the history of typography I enjoyed a lot. I'm also glad to have made time for Johnny Harris this morning. I nannied in the Netherlands, and I’ve been a bread snob ever since. And how have I never seen Future Proof?? This content is right up my alley. Thanks for sharing!