Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I'll Be Back Soon!

I bet you've wondered what happened to me. I was a pretty prolific blogger for about the last 5 years sharing my quest for a more creative life by documenting my ups and downs with that endeavor. The last time I posted was in October which gives the impression that I am no longer blogging about creativity. Well, that is true to a certain point. I am still tweeting about it though!

So what happened? 

Nothing really scandalous occurred. And part of the the truth, which may seem cliched is that real life got in the way. I've been finishing school and working on exciting new freelance projects. It wasn't until my friend Patrick Ross (go read his blog in the meantime, if you want great content on creativity!) mentioned to me today that he was catching up on his blog reading and wondered if mine was on hiatus, that I realized I was indeed on hiatus. But I also realized that I missed this blog and my amazingly loyal readers, many of whom have become great friends.

The ultimate reason why I haven't been blogging here is because I hate the design of my template and with everything else going on in my life right now I don't have time to alter it to my liking. But that is going to change soon! I have already talked with someone to help me with this, because like creativity, sometimes life also involves collaboration. 

With all of that said, I hope to see you back here in the spring with a new design, new content features and a welcome back giveaway. 
  • Until then, be creative my friends!
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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Principles of Creative Engagement

Last weekend, I had the amazing experience of attending the 2nd Creativity in Business conference held in my former hometown, Washington, DC and organized by the brilliant Michelle James.



The day was filled with so many insights that I am still slowly processing them all. As I was leaving, I noticed the above instructions tacked up to a wall. I snapped a quick image on my phone. Apparently, they were the guidelines for the entire conference that I somehow initially missed.

A few days later when I looked at the image again, I realized that it did sum up, in a few short phrases, my entire experience at the conference. And here's how:

Yes - and
A foundational principle of improv, yes- and implies that you will accept whatever happens and flow with what comes next. When I got to the conference, I was torn about which sessions to attend but the creative energy of the event guided me to choose the perfect ones for me.

Make everyone else look good
For me, this meant enthusiastically participating in each session demonstrating my engagement for the presenter to notice. I believe the more involved the audience is, the more creative energy the presenter receives.

Creativity is messy
In one session, Gregg Fraley led our group through an actual Creative Problem Solving process. One of the things he mentioned in doing so was how we should gravitate to and explore what makes us uncomfortable. It is here that your greatest creative discoveries will occur. Creativity is not a neat process.

Have fun
Above all, the conference was a day for me to play and explore new processes while meeting other like-minds folks. I tried improv, doodling, and storytelling.

What I ultimately learned is that when you combine the creative passion and enthusiasm of a group diverse individuals, you will see and feel magic happen. And that's what I'll reflect on most from the conference, as I continue to ponder the creative transformation that occurred within me.
  • How do you create and keep your creative engagement alive?
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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Altered Book Project

So you may be be wondering where I've been for the last month. Well, I'd like to say that I have been working on an altered book project but that's not true, it only seems like I've been working on it for a month!

Late in the summer, two of my longtime twitter friends Cat and Roisin suggested that all of us participate in a round robin altered book project. I was excited because I had already done one for a friend as a birthday gift several years ago and even took an all day altered book workshop with Gayle Pritchard.
This new project would require each of to start our own altered book by prepping the pages, creating a spread or two, and then sending it off to the next person to complete a few spreads and then pass along. By the end of the project we will each end up with our own book and mine will be filled with not only my art, but also Cat's and Roisin's art, which makes it even more exciting.

It took me awhile to find my book and to come up with the concept. I tried looking through my own selection of books, went to a used book store but ultimately found my book at a library book sale. The size was perfect - smaller than a typical hardcover fiction book and the cover was the right shade of purple. The title, The Looking Glass, set the tone for my  theme.
Then I began looking through all of my supplies to select possible materials that matched that theme. I set aside a slew of  items in pale tones that felt right for the book. My most challenging and lessons learned part was next: prepping the book.

To prep my book, I needed to create a thicker surface on which to create spreads by gluing large blocks of pages together. With my previous book, this process was tedious but doable. For some reason the type of glue I used this time made the process unbearable! It took me about 3 weeks of gluing to complete one and half blocks before I gave up. The glue was not drying and so everything was still sticky.

After a brilliant idea popped into my head, I switched directions, gave up the glue and pulled out my stash of purple duck tape to seal the pages together in blocks. While all the days of gluing taught me immense patience, the spontaneous switch to the tape showed me just how unpredictable the creative process is. That one simple idea appeared at just the right time when I needed it!
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Monday, August 22, 2011

Disciplined Dreaming


Do you or does your organization need more ideas? Well then Josh Linkner and his book Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity may have just the solution for you or at least just the right idea generating tool!

Filled with proven techniques and the success stories to back them up, Linkner has written a resource that you and your team will come back to over and over. He believes that creativity is a skill that you can learn and even quotes from renown Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen to prove it:
"Studies have shown that creativity is close to 80 percent learned and acquired."
From there, Linkner provides a simple framework to increase your creative thinking capacity and also teaches you how to encourage it your organization or team.  His five step process is similar to the actual creative process.

1. Ask: Define your creativity challenge by asking what needs to be solved. Then use your curiosity to seek those clues.

2. Prepare: Like exercise, creative thinking requires warm-ups. Also if you are in an organization, cultural alignment is necessary.

3. Discover: Seek creativity in the unlikely corners of your life. You may be surprised by what you find.

4. Ignite: Where the rubber meets the road. Use as many different tools and techniques to spark ideas individually or in a group. 

5. Launch: Bring your analytical mind back into the picture to sort through all of the ideas you generated in the last step in order to choose the best ones to  pursue.

Now, I can't guarantee that you will become a creative genius after reading this book and following the Disciplined Dreaming process, but I am pretty certain that Linkner's infectious enthusiasm about all things creative will at least make you look at problem solving and creativity a lot differently.

  • Now go and create some new ideas!
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Monday, August 1, 2011

Creative Slump


After a really productive and inspired late spring and early summer, I hit a creative slump - you know the one where it feels like all of your ideas have evaporated and you panic because you don't know when a new set will show up?

Yep, that's me!

At first when it hit, I just tried to ride it out and enjoy the downtime. I figured, like most blocks, if I ignored it it would go away. Well after several weeks, I started getting frustrated, because it was still there.

So then, I started to take my own advice. I got up on the opposite side of the bed, tried new foods, met old friend in new locations, but nothing.

Last week, I thought the slump had been broken. Things in my life began to shift, and I felt change was approaching. I rode this wave for a couple of days, but it didn't last, and I ended up back in my dry spell.

As I enter the second month of this creative slump, I am desperately looking for a breakthrough. That is why I am turning to you, my loyal readers.
  • Tell me how you've overcome a creative slump.
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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Spark: How Creativity Works


"Work comes out of work." ~ Richard Serra
This memorable quote leapt out of the pages of Spark: How Creativity Works by Julie Burstein, the producer of Studio 360. The book, which chronicles the creative process of many of today's creators, is filled with little nuggets like this to inspire you.

As you know, I am all about the process - the creative process that is! While the finished product is a feat, for me it is the process that is really intriguing.

That's why this was the first non-school related book, in a long time, that I not only read but devoured. From the first story that takes us on a journey with the artist Chuck Close as he discovers his renowned painting style despite his physical and learning challenges, I was hooked. According to Close,
"Inspiration is for amateurs, and the rest of us just show up and get to work. But so much of it comes out of the process..."
The rest of the book continues to explore the creative process, in all its forms, with examples from writers, architects, musician, and actors alike.

There are stories on how artists have dealt with adversity, created modern alchemy through their work, worked with partners and collaborators and just got to work. In this last chapter, the writer, Isabel Allende discusses, in fascinating detail, her ritual of starting a new work each year.

This book provides a deeper look into the creative process of some of the most intriguing contemporary artists and is a must read for process lovers.
  • How have your life experiences influenced your work?
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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

30 Days of Creativity

In my last post, I mentioned that I had just begun the 30 Days of Creativity challenge, where I was required to make one thing a day for the entire month of June.

Honestly, I didn't think I could do it, when I started. I am notorious for leaving projects and ideas abandoned. So I this time I made a conscious choice to follow through with this challenge.

And, guess what? I am halfway through it, and I am glad I pushed myself to stick with it. Working on a small project (5 minutes max) a day has been so beneficial to my development as an everyday creator.

Here are some of things I have learned:

1. Use what you have. Often my projects are inspired by my day. This beach glass sun catcher was the end of result of a day at the beach. I picked up the glass while there.

2. Set a timer when creating. I have found the 5 minute increment to be just enough time to get me into my creative flow, which I then take with me to other projects.

3. Experiment with techniques and materials. So far, I have used paper clips to create a bracelet and a dollar bill to create an origami heart.
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