Transforming Challenges into Creativity: : Making a Silk Purse out of a Sow's Ear


Creative Insights




Silk Purses and Sow's Ears: Our Design Philosophy



Chukster's team of creatives is a blend of nationalities, as such, one of the first things I teach our new creatives is to learn how to master the art of "Making a silk purse out of a sow's ear".

But what on earth does that even mean!?

Well, it's an old English proverb originating from the 16th Century. A sow is a female pig and supposedly its ear was considered the lowest-quality part of the animal for crafting in leather (tbh a boar's ear wouldn't be much better, but that just doesn't roll off the tongue in the same way, does it?)

Anyway, and as you can imagine, making a luxurious item like a silk purse out of the lowest quality material available at that time would be considered an impossible challenge!

Illustration of a 16th-century craftsman in a rustic workshop, crafting leather goods, highlighting the historical context of the proverb 'making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear'.

Metaphorically this is exactly the same challenge that we as designers face on a daily basis.

Clients often request... no demand... their agency craft them a silk purse – and, if you are like us, you will also often demand it from yourself. However the materials we are given to work with, whether it be the client brief or the assets that they supply us with, are often little more than rather sorry looking pig ears!

Our job is to transform it through ingenuity, imagination and not a little bit of magic (at least that's what we tell the client, in reality it's a mix of blood, sweat and tears. Many, many tears!).

So, embrace this centuries-old wisdom and allow it to guide and push your creative processes. It's a reminder that, despite the challenges, the goal is always to achieve the extraordinary from the ordinary.


The silk purse from the sow's ear if you will :-)