Wednesday, December 31, 2008

When Are You Most Creative?

So, when is your most creative time? I've discovered that mine is at night. More like the middle of the night. I've found that I do my best thinking and come up with more ideas when I wake up in the middle of the night. It's not then that the ideas percolate, but rather during the time that I am tossing and turning, trying to get back to sleep.

In the past, like most people, I would lie awake worrying. But then last year, I started to use that time more productively. I began actively focusing on ideas I was working through and that's when the real creativity started.

I've come up with some of my best ideas during this time. And of course, I get up and jot down notes, because I know that once morning comes, they might be gone for good.

  • Try this fun quiz to see when other people are at their most creative.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

How to Think Creatively

(Margan Zajdowicz image)

It's a skill that all of us use, yet a skill all of us could probably improve. Thinking creatively can help us not only create art but guide us through our daily lives. That's why I love this list of 50 Ways to Think Creatively.

Here are my favorites from the list:
  1. Be curious - wonder about things
  2. Surround yourself with diverse types of people
  3. Live in terms of exploration and discovery, not just solutions or right answers
  4. Use visual, metaphorical and analogical thinking - not just analytical
  5. Embrace, rather than avoid, ambiguity as an essential part of the creative process
Plus some that I plan to explore and experiment with in the new year:

  1. Take improv theater classes to feel more comfortable creating in real time
  2. Use different types of music in the background while thinking
  3. Surround yourself with life-giving and inspiring people, images and objects
  4. Meditate - cultivate presence and mindfulness
  5. Give your Creative Self space, time and attention
  • What are your favorite ways to think creatively?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Keeping a Visual Journal

(Karen Blados Image)

One of things that I am not too good at is keeping a journal. When I have tried to keep one, it usually lasts no more than a few months at a time. That's why I am so impressed with people who are diligent at documenting their lives and even more so with those who keep a visual journal.

This article on local artist/designer Karen Blados gave me new hope and inspiration that even I could start a visual journal. I think I will add this to my list of things I want to try to incorporate into my creative practice in 2009.
  • Start your own visual journal today!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Looking for Inspiration?

Writing prompts? Project starters? Story beginnings? and other random idea generators?


Monday, November 24, 2008

Your Brain on Creativity

A recent article in the Times asks the question, Can Everyone be an Einstein? The article focuses on the relatively new discipline of neuroscience to explore the ways in which we can mold our own brains, focusing on mental exercises to improve everything from intelligence to creativity.

One of the things that intrigues scientists is the 'aha' moment in creativity that is often referred to as insight. Such a revelation usually arises from what scientists deem as a pattern of thinking where associations are made between seemingly dissimilar thoughts.

"So, with that in mind, answer this question: how many uses can you think of for a brick? Or this: what would happen if people no longer needed to sleep?

These were questions asked in psychological tests specifically designed to measure creativity. They have been attacked as far too subjective. But they do point to a crucial way of defining creativity. If you are now idly imagining dozens of uses for a brick or the novelties of a sleepless world, then you are probably a divergent thinker. If, instead, the questions make you impatient — a brick is for building walls, dammit — then you are a convergent thinker."
  • What kind of thinker are you?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Inspiration Quote

"Imagination is the true magic carpet." - - - Norman Vincent Peale
  • How can you use your imagination to achieve your creative goals?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Who's Your City?

That's the question that Richard Florida asks in his latest book entitled, Who's Your City?: How the Creative Economy Is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life.

It's a question I've asked myself. Early in my career, I chose to move to our nation's capital because I was looking for work in museums and with the plethora of cultural institutions dotting the Washington, DC area, I figured I was bound to find a job. And, I did.

Ultimately, I realized that my family was more important. After attaining my career goal in DC, I decided to move back to Ohio to be closer to my loved ones. Although Cleveland has some amazing arts organizations, I decided to take a different path, one in the corporate world.

If you are asking yourself similar questions about your career and your location, and you live in the Cleveland-area, I encourage you to attend the next Business Book Talk with Tim Zaun and Friends on this subject. One lucky attendee will also win a copy of the book.

Where: Lakewood Library, Lakewood, OH
When: Thursday, November 20th
Time: 7 pm to 9 pm


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Start Your Novel Today!

Have you always wanted to write a novel? Got a great story to tell? November is National Novel Writing Month and the perfect time to start writing your masterpiece.

Also known as NaNoWriMo, this initiative focuses on quantity over quality. The goal is to write a 175 page / 50,000 word novel in one month. It may sound like a lot, but if you write just 6 pages a day you can do it. Too often we either don't start a creative project, because it seems too large, or because we continually edit our work and never end up finishing it. This is an opportunity to simply create without censoring our output.
  • Sign up to write your novel during NaNoWriMo.

Monday, October 27, 2008

My Creativity Bookshop

Last week I added a new addition to my sidebar links - A bookshop. My creativity bookshop has all the books I've mentioned in previous posts plus a few more of my favorites to inspire you.

It's divided into three categories:

  1. General Creativity
  2. Business Creativity
  3. Art / Design

Monday, October 20, 2008

Celebrate National Design Week

This week Cooper-Hewitt launches National Design Week:

An initiative that aims to draw national attention to the ways in which design enriches everyday life, through outreach to school teachers and their students, and partnerships with design organizations across the country.
To celebrate this year there are several events to participate in:

People's Design Award
Vote online for this year's favorite design.

National Design Award
A gala event to celebrate design and its impact on daily life.

  • How can you celebrate design this week?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Overcoming Creative Blocks

I admit, like most people, I get creatively blocked. This latest bout though has been going on awhile now. Yes, I have creative ideas but have been finding it difficult to actually sit down and turn them into reality.

So what causes creative blocks and what can we do to get past them? According to Steven Pressfield in the War of Art, it's called resistance or that feeling you get when you can't sit down to create. The feeling that makes you want to do everything from get a cup of coffee, talk on the phone or search the web, rather than create. Basically, it's anything you do to avoid actually being productive.

Pressfield's solution to overcoming resistance is to simply sit down and do the work that needs to get done. Like Twyla Tharp, in her book the Creative Habit, Pressfield believes that eventually the work will flow once we are engaged, and like Tharp he believes that creating must be a habit, something that is done every day.

Recently, I've been giving into my resistance and not creating at all, because I haven't had the time to sit down everyday and create.

  • What do you do when life gets in the way of your creating?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Creative Aging

Earlier this year, I posted about creative aging with Do the Arts Have an Age Limit? Now, the Metlife Foundation Creative Aging Program is offering funding, in the form of seed grants to encourage healthy aging.
This pilot program will provide in-depth technical assistance and seed grants of $7,500 to eight National Guild members to enable them to design, implement and evaluate sustainable creative aging programs (participatory, skill-based arts education programs for adults age 60 and above) using best practices detailed in the Guild's latest publication, Creativity Matters: The Arts and Aging Toolkit. Technical assistance will focus on capacity-building with particular attention to outcome-based evaluation measuring changes in the health of participants.
  • So do the arts have an age limit?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Find Your Color

Did you know that each of us has a personal color? It's based on the day we were born and can give us insights into our personality and inspire us. Mine is pistachio green.

Pantone, the color experts, have worked with Michele Bernhardt to develop this system.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Create a Visioning Collage to Inspire You

Large piece of sturdy white paper / poster board
Magazines to cut up
Colored Markers
A Creative Dream

Begin by going through the magazines and randomly cutting out images and words that appeal to you. Once you have about 10-15 images start imagining your dream and how what you've chosen represents this. You may want to choose an image or word that represents the essence of the dream and place this in the center of your paper gluing it securely in place.

Next, working with the other images, begin gluing them down in whatever way makes sense to you and your dream. You can also add color with markers, pens or paints.

After the collage is complete it should represent your achieved dream. Place the collage in a place where you will see it every day and spend some time each day visualizing yourself in your dream collage achieving your goals.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Living the Creative Life

I just finished reading Living the Creative Life: Ideas and Inspiration from Working Artists by Rice Freeman-Zachery, and I recommend it to anyone wanting to get a peek inside the mind of today's working artists.

The book features 15 artists and tries to answer the question, "what is creativity?" by covering useful topics like keeping a journal or sketchbook; work spaces and work habits; and the all important, living the artful life.

Comprised of responses by a diverse group of artists, I was pleasantly surprised to see mixed media artists:
  1. Linda Woods
  2. Claudine Hellmuth

And local Cleveland artists featured:

  1. Rebekah Hodous
  2. Scott Radke

Finally, try this exercise, I've adapted from the book.

  • Make a list of the 10 most creative people you are inspired by and then write down some of their creations to get a better idea of what inspires you. For example, is it people who make grand works or those who integrate creativity into their daily lives?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

2008 R&D Awards

R&D Magazine recently released their list of the top 100 innovations for the year.

Did you know that Ohio ranked second, behind California for the most inventions? Of the 10 organizations that were selected from the state, 3 of them are from Northeast Ohio.
  • See the entire list here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Creative Lessons From Innovation Experts

I know I've been posting lots of links to magazine articles, but recently there have been so many good ones to pass along.

Here's the latest. In the June issue of Inc. magazine, innovation experts were asked how organizations can foster the creative spirit in their employees. The results were interesting and included a couple of unique ideas.

Write it Down
"Frog Design, a San Francisco-based consulting firm, publishes Frog Design Mind, a print and online magazine that serves as a quarterly compendium of staff articles on subjects that excite employees.
Bring in Outsiders
Many top innovation firms tap the perspectives of outside experts -- be they physicists, poets, actors, archaeologists, theologians, or astronauts."


Monday, August 4, 2008

Time to Play

When was the last time you played? If you can't remember, then it's probably been too long. August is the perfect month to let your inner creative out to get some exercise.

Did you know?

Giving children the time, space, and tools to play can aid them in developing important coping and problem-solving skills in stressful situations, according to CWRU psychologists who are following children in a study on play and creativity in children. Results from the second of three longitudinal studies shows that creative children in the first and second grades continue to use their imaginations and emotions in their play in the fifth and sixth grades.

"Good early play skills predicted the ability to be creative and generate alternative solutions to everyday problems and a higher quality of solutions," says Sandra Russ, professor and chair of CWRU's Department of Psychology.

If play is that beneficial for children, imagine how it could enhance the adult brain.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Inspiration Quote

"The best hope of solving all our problems lies in harnessing the diversity, the energy, and the creativity of all our people." - - - Roger Williams

  • What problems could you solve with the help of other people?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Creative Tourism

Are you like me and seek out learning experiences when you travel or do you want to make your city a creative destination? If so, the Santa Fe International Conference on Creative Tourism may interest you.

It will be held from September 28 - October 2, 2008 in Sana Fe, New Mexico, which has recently been named as the first UNESCO Creative City in the United States.

Some of the program topics include Artist’s Tours: Generating Sales for Artists Through Creative Tourism and Keeping it Real, “Authenticity in the Creative Industries”. There's also a keynote by Eric Maisel, my creativity teacher.

  • Plan your next creativity trip today.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Let Your Creativity Soar

The latest issue of Scientific American Mind features a discussion with several creativity experts, including John Houtz, Julia Cameron and Dr. Robert Epstein. Houtz and Epstein focus on the psychology of creating, while Cameron uses her own experiences that have shaped her creativity to explain how everyone can be creative.

But the one thing they all agree on is that the creative process is systematic and can be taught to anyone, who is willing to consistently use specific techniques. I agree with the consistency part, since that's really the key to developing any new skill.

Here's one technique mentioned in the article:

To boost your creative output, think and behave like creative people do: don't let criticism stop you from expressing your ideas and do not fear failure. Take breaks and learn to use them strategically; use daydreams as sources of new ideas.

  • Read the entire article on how to unleash your creativity here.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

How Are Your Creative Thinking Skills?

Don't know? That's why Dr. Robert Epstein has developed an online test that measures your creative ability by assessing four key skill sets used by creative thinkers. Dr. Epstein disregards the idea that creativity is "mysterious" and claims that by developing the right skills, everyone can enhance their creativity.

Based on 25 years of research, Dr. Epstein's generativity theory concludes that capturing, challenging, broadening and surrounding are the skills we can all use to be more creative thinkers. These are skills I have been using for years not realizing they were also making me more creative. What I have learned from them though, is that enhancing your creativity is a mindful process that you must practice every day to see results.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Your Ultimate Playbook for Success: Unlock Your Creative Genius

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am a huge fan of the Big Idea on CNBC. Last night just reaffirmed why I think it's such a great show. The topic was creativity - as you all know something I am quite passionate about.

The show highlighted how to tap into your own creativity plus how creativity is the currency of the future and featured some prominent creativity experts like Robert Epstein and Richard Florida.

One segment even featured the Progressive Insurance Automotive X Prize encouraging teams to design more fuel efficient cars for a cross country road adventure. The collaborative power of crowds and teams is a new area of creativity that is being explored and something I am extremely interested in too.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Creativity Quote

"Creativity is so delicate a flower that praise tends to make it bloom while discouragement often nips it at the bud." - - - Alex Osborn

  • How has positive or negative feedback affected your creativity?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Can Animals Be Creative?

(Image Courtesy of the Asian Elephant Art and Conservation Project)

Have you noticed recently that more dogs are wearing clothes? So, it was only a matter of time until animals became artists. Yes, Congo the chimp was famous in the 1950s for his paintings - Picasso even owned one. But recently, other types of animals from turtles to elephants are dabbling in the arts and painting.

Even horses are getting in on this latest art movement! Buddy, the painting pony was trained to grip a paintbrush in his mouth and later using non-toxic paints created abstract works on canvas. Now, he throws the brush on the ground and gravel and dirt end up on the canvas creating mixed-media works. Sadly, Buddy also suffers from a hormonal disorder so profits from his paintings are used for his treatment as well as donated to further research on the disorder.

Can animals be creative? Is art defined by intent or what is produced? All of these animal artists, as expressed through their human companions, are believed to be enjoying the process of creating and and even look forward to the next opportunity to paint.
  • Thoughts?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Free (And Not So Free) Art Events

As I've mentioned before, summer, here in Cleveland, is my favorite season for the arts. There are so many festivals and art walks that there is no excuse for not getting out and visiting a least one to see what the local scene has to offer. I promise you'll be pleasantly surprised. Here's a sampling:


Murray Hill Art Walk
June 6 -8

Parade the Circle
June 14: 11 am - 4 pm

Clifton Arts & Music Festival
June 21: 10 am - 6 pm

Boston Mills Artfest I
June 27 -28: 10 am - 6pm


St. John West Shore Hospital Festival of the Arts
July 11 - 13

Cain Park Art Festival
July 11 -13

Chagrin Falls Annual Art Walk
July 17 - 18

Ingenuity Festival of Art & Technology
July 25 - 27

Waterloo Arts Festival
July 28: 11 am - 7 pm


Lakewood Arts Festival
August 2: 10 am - 6 pm

City Xpressionz Aerosol & Urban Art Festival
August 16
  • See you there!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Do Flower Essences Improve Creativity?

In Greek mythology, Iris connected Heaven and Earth by creating the rainbow thus bridging the real world with inspiration.

Similarly, Iris essence is believed to increase your intuition and enhance creativity, especially if you are feeling blocked. Dr. Edward Bach made flower essences popular through the remedies he developed in the 1930s to help patients with emotional issues.

Today, spritzing iris essence under your tongue or applying it to pulse points daily may provide you with inspiration for your next project.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Creative Materials for Art

Have you ever thought about what you could use around the house for your art? I'm not talking about traditional materials, but something, well creative. Creativity involves taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary.

(Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Maestre)

Artist Jennifer Maestre uses pencils, which she cuts into small sections and threads like beads to create beautiful sculptures based on sea urchins. She started her work using nails but couldn't get them to create the effect she was looking for. She started looking at other pointy objects to use and found pencils worked best.

(Photo Courtesy Avon Heritage Duct Festival)

Another interesting use for a household object inspired an entire festival. The Fifth Annual Heritage Duct Tape Festival runs June 13-15 in Avon, Ohio. Besides the practical uses of this versatile tape, you can see sculptures and parade floats created using duct tape.
  • Can you come up with a new use for a common household product?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Creativity Loses Value

The appeal of creativity has exploded during the last several years, with everyone from schools to CEOs proclaiming its importance. So does this eliminate the value of true creativity if everyone is seen as a creative thinker?

Possibly. Thinking creatively is a skill that should be taught and learned by everyone, but are we also learning how to apply that thinking for every day solutions? Probably not. Most creativity books and classes preach expressing our creativity but few help us to use it constructively.

The Arts Column in the Telegraph (via the Applied Imagination blog) recently explored this topic emphasizing the need to learn more skilled crafts or at least a practical use for creativity as this, not solely ideas has sustained humankind.

  • Agree or disagree?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Creativity Quote

This is one of my favorite quotes about creativity:

“When I can no longer create anything, I’ll be done for.” - - - Coco Chanel

  • What's your favorite creativity quote?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Design Principles for Self Improvement (Part II)

While I was thinking about this post last night, I was also watching one of my favorite shows, The Big Idea on CNBC. One of the guests was Ty Pennington that hyper yet creative carpenter on those home improvement shows. He talked about how the principles of home design can be used to create our dream life. For instance, he talked about choosing colors and objects for our homes that reflect our personality.

Karim Rashid, a designer and author has a similar philosophy in his book design your self: rethinking the way you live, work, and play. Rashid is best known for his innovative home product, furniture and interior design. Early on, he writes that humans are here to create and that living in such a mass produced world entitles us all to use design, not only to create our environments but also our lives.

Covering topics ranging from life, love, work, and play, this colorful book also includes a section at the end with a yearly guide to getting the most from your life. Despite loving this book and it's advocacy for leading a creative and individualized life, I found it odd that it was also filled with prescriptive lists and Rashid's own strict guidelines of how that life should be lived. Still, it's a must read book to learn how this contemporary creative genius lives and works.

  • How are you using design principles in your daily life?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Design Principles for Self Improvement (Part I)

Is it me, or have other people noticed the trend of applying design principles to personal growth? As a visual person I am intrigued by the possibilities of exposing these ideas to more people. Why? Because we live in a society that is increasingly visually based and are inundated by millions of images on a daily basis. Why not understand these principles and use them to our benefit?

The first time I encountered this idea of design as a means of self-improvement was in Lucia Capacchione's book, Visioning: Ten Steps to Designing the Life of Your Dreams. Capacchione's background is in design and art therapy and she blends her experience in both to inspire readers to create vision colleges to help them attain their dream life.

Her 10 design steps for visioning are:
1. Make a wish
2. Search for images and words
3. Focus on the vision
4. Compose the design
5. Explore and find order in creative chaos
6. Create the collage
7. Articulate the vision
8. Reinforce the dream
9. Embrace the reality
10. Celebrate the dream come true
  • Now, create your own collage.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bean Mosaic

Spring is finally here, or so the calendar says. After a long winter, this time of the year is a good time to refresh our creativity and maybe explore some of the ideas that have been germinating during those long cold months.

Here is a fun project I did while volunteering at an elementary school's Cultural Arts Day. It's a flower mosaic created with, well beans and other assorted dried foods, including rice and pasta glued onto cardboard.

  • Unleash your inner artist and play like a child using finger paints, chalk, or beans!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Think You Are Funny?

Cleveland-based American Greetings wants you to prove it then. Simply provide a caption for one of 3 images on their website, and if they like it you could be a $1000 richer. Plus, they might print and sell your winning card too.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Paris Fashion Week

(Design by Viktor & Rolf)

Fashion, as a creative expression, has always been an interest of mine. There is just something intriguing about designing clothes that are both artful and functional. Above is an image of a Viktor & Rolf design taken during Paris Fashion Week. I love how instead of advertising a brand they are announcing an idea. Ok, more like shouting an idea at you.

But it is definitely a creative interpretation of a winter coat combined with a concept. The design made me take a second look and think.
  • Thoughts?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Who Wants to Be the World's Creative Hub?

The United Kingdom recently unveiled their largest government attempt to bring the arts and the creative sector to the forefront: Creative Britain: New Talents for the New Economy.

  • Read more about it here.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Self-Taught Artists

(Image Courtesy of CAF)

Some call it outsider art, folk art, art brut or even self-taught art like the latest exhibition at the Cleveland Artist's Foundation: Recollections and Revelations: Self Taught Artists from Northeast and Central Ohio, 1850-2007.

The exhibition features almost thirty artists, including the Reverend Albert Wagner, whose image above depicts a brightly colored cotton field scene. Challenging us and our thoughts about what art should look like, these self-taught artists explore their personal creativity in paintings and sculptures, often using non traditional methods and materials.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

World Community Arts Day is February 17

(Image Courtesy of World Community Arts Day)

With the theme "art as a catalyst for caring and sharing," World Community Arts Day promotes creativity and personal expression. Celebrated on February 17, the organizers simply ask you to do an arts project, in any medium, that promotes the theme of "caring and sharing." They then ask you to post it online and send them a link, so it can be included in their worldwide effort to promote the arts.

To share your art:

Artists can add their work to Flickr

And if you are like me, who created a collage to represent the green circle that symbolizes World Community Arts Day, then you can join the Green Circle Flickr Group and post it.

  • Whatever you decide, just do something creative on February 17