Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Creative Intentions for the New Year

As this year winds down, I've started thinking about my intentions for the New Year. Like most years, my intentions in 2010 center around bringing more creativity into my life. But like a lot of ideas, intentions don't mean much unless you have a plan to back them up.

That's why I've signed up for the Creative Every Day Challenge. This challenge allows you to do as much or as little as you like, expressing your own personal creativity. The fun part is that each month has a theme to inspire you, plus there are ways to connect (via Twitter, Flickr, Blogs) with others also completing the challenge, so you feel supported.

In addition to the challenge, I'll also be writing my new columns for Creative Perch - another way to keep me motivated to pursue my intentions! I'll be following The Creativity Book: A Year's Worth of Inspiration and Guidance and encourage you to join me.
  • What are your creative intentions for the new year?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Benefits of Being Everyday Creative

One of my everyday creative habits involves checking out the magazine rack at my local library. Quite frequently, you will find me there picking up magazines that catch my eye, especially magazines I would not normally read.

This weekend, intrigued by the cover story Everyday Creative, I stumbled upon the latest issue of Psychology Today. The article begins by debunking, probably, the number one myth of creativity and that is that if you are not a creative genius then you are simply not creative and have no hope of ever being creative.

Instead, the article focuses on the fact that too many people fall for that myth and don't even see all the creative potential and successes in their own life.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Creative Giveaway

In the spirit of holiday giving, I have created a collage scrap pack for one lucky winner. The scrap pack has over 30 pieces of paper, ribbon and stickers: everything you need to get your creative holiday groove on during this enchanting season.

You can enter to win over at my arty blog. The contest ends Thursday, December 3 at midnight local time.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Creative Building Reuse

(Image Parade.com)

Yesterday, Parade magazine published an article on a creative building transformation that has taken place outside St. Louis, where a struggling enclosed shopping mall has been turned into a thriving arts center. If you haven't read it yet, check out Can Art Save a Mall?

It's a good example of how an existing building, and once popular destination, can be reinvented instead of torn down. One of my other favorite creative building reuses is the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Alexandria, VA. Once an actual torpedo factory during the early part of last century, the building now houses three floors of working artist studios, galleries, an art school, and a museum.

As the economy struggles and more buildings become and remain vacant, I wonder what other creative building reuses will emerge.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Switching to a New Medium

Through this blog, I have encouraged you to explore all the facets of creativity and the various forms that it takes, whether it is the visual arts, music, fashion, theater or writing. Plus, I've even tried out a few for myself.

But what I found the most challenging and rewarding was switching to a new medium, within an already established artistic domain. For me, the switch was moving from collage and paper arts to beach glass and jewelry.

I've learned there are actually quite a few similarities to both. First, each requires a certain amount of collecting and organizing. This is a natural passion of mine, which I tend to attribute to the time I spent working in museums. Then there is the creative aspect of putting together disparate parts to develop something new, whether it is a collage or a pendant.

Finally, there is the growth aspect, not just as an artist but as a creator. If we are constantly creating in the same medium, we may not see the areas where we need to grow and develop. I believe by simply switching to a new medium, you become more aware of your growth and maybe you'll discover and develop a passion you never knew you excelled at!
  • Try creating in a new medium.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Design a Pattern

    (Image Altair Design)

Regular readers to this blog know that I love to share online resources where you can create your own art. The intersection of technology and creativity has been a gradual fascination for me. Plus, many of these sites provide much needed online exercise for your right brain.

The latest site I found, actually via Twitter, allows you to create a design, using pre-created black and white patterns, by adding your own color and imagination. The pattern I completed earlier this week is entitled, "Ode to Autumn" and is filled with random dabs of rich oranges, reds, and browns.
  • Create your own or search for mine and rate it at Altair Design.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Why Innovation Needs Diversity

My other passion, besides creativity, is diversity. Yet, when most people think of diversity they often think only of superficial differences like race, gender, etc. To me, diversity is so much more and that's what makes it important for creating real innovation.

In author Debbe Kennedy's book, Putting Our Differences to Work, she expands the standard definition of diversity to include such factors as generational insights, problem solving approaches and think origins. With a broader definition of diversity, we can see how bringing together people from all different groups affects brainstorming and innovation.

Imagine an idea generating session that only included individuals with the same backgrounds, work habits or experiences. The end result would probably be pretty boring, and well more of the same. Scott Page, author of The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools and Societies, concurs with this view of the power of diversity to push innovation forward.

So why does he think diverse groups of problem-solvers are more successful than similarly minded groups? Because, according to Page, the diverse groups have more perspectives, which fuels idea generation and ultimately, innovation.
  • Increase the diversity in your problem-solving sessions and see what happens!


Monday, October 12, 2009

Creativity in Business

Not too long ago, I mentioned the term "creativity in business" to a colleague, who promptly responded, "Isn't that an oxy moron?"

Yes, most people don't think of creativity when they think about business. That's why the Creativity in Business Conference held earlier this month in Washington, DC was so important. We need to debunk this myth that creativity can not exist in the work world, more specifically the business world.

While I couldn't attend the conference, I am happy to share with you some of the blog recaps of the event with the hope that you will see that creativity and business can co-exist and do so successfully!

  • Has your opinion of creativity and business changed?

Monday, September 28, 2009

What is a Creative Block?

(Image Jay Marr)

Recently, I've been running a little dry on ideas for this blog. So, I followed my own advice and tried to break through this block. I went for walks hoping for inspiration. I sat quietly waiting for a sign. I threw myself into other creative projects looking for a connection. And finally, I just let it go. I didn't agonize over it anymore.

Then it hit me this morning.

When is a creative block not a block but rather just part of the incubation phase of the creative process? As a huge proponent of this process, I realized that my block was just the natural progression of my creativity. While most people look at their block as paralyzing, I just found mine uncomfortable. I was able to acknowledge that feeling, let it go and wait for my next creative blog idea to appear, which I admit I am still waiting for! But, I am confident it will be here eventually...
  • How do you handle your creative blocks?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What Innovation Means to Me

Too often people confuse creativity with innovation. To me, creativity is about coming up with new ideas, while innovation is the application and (hopeful) success of those ideas.

Yet, when I think of innovation I don't necessarily think first about products. Lately, there seems to be a lot of emphasis on this and understandably this is what innovation usually gets associated with.

But there are other ways of looking at innovation. I think more about innovation as creating new concepts - yes those concepts will probably end up as products - but I don't believe innovation starts with products. Earlier this year, trendwatching.com published "Innovation Jubilation" 50+ new business ideas that defy doom and gloom. The article mentions everything from the DIY trend to mapmania as concepts that are transforming business.

Another useful way to look at innovation is personal innovation. This type of innovation involves improving you and your life. Matt Heinz recently posted about this in Five Ways to Create Innovation Throughout Your Life. He writes about using innovation to improve everything from you relationships to your future.
  • What could you innovate?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Join a Collective Art Project

(Image CNN.com)

One of the biggest myths surrounding creativity is that of the solitary genius. In Group Genius: the Creative Power of Collaboration by Keith Sawyer, small sparks in the creative process, usually from outside sources and soometimes happening over time, are explained as the true nature of creativity.

Similarly, the Internet is now making this type of creativity the norm. A recent online article declared: "Strangers gather on Web to make collective art." People are connecting virtually to create everything from an Opera for London's Royal Opera House to an animated film. These types of collective art projects aren't for artists only but encourage everyone to participate in the creative process, which is why I think they are such great ideas.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Get Stimulated!

While many of us are creative in our personal lives, it seems much more difficult to be creative at work. In today's economy more than ever, a creative brain is a requirement on the job. In Stimulated: Habits to Spark Your Creative Genius at Work by Andrew Pek and Jeannine McGlade the goal is to get you thinking more creatively.

Weaving together a combination of business case studies and personal stories, Pek and McGlade cover the following key habits necessary to increase your creative genius:

Scouting includes observing the world and your environment.
Cultivating is about creating the environment for ideas to take shape.
Playing allows for experimentation and curiosity.
Venturing is simply permitting ourselves to make the leap into the creative unknown.
Harvesting involves innovation and turning creative sparks and ideas into reality.
  • Try one at work today!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Creative Advertising

Have you seen this commerical for BMW?

I just saw it a few nights ago. It was one of those rare times when I actually stopped and took notice of a television commerical, because it was so creative. I was captivated by the use of a car and paint to create a large scale art work seemingly inspired by Jackson Pollock and Abstract Expressionism.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Art in the Park

(Image: Medina County Art League)

Yesterday, I had a fabulous day strolling around the square in Medina, OH for their annual Art in the Park sponsored by the Medina County Art League. If you are a regular reader, you know there are two things that I absolutely adore: art fairs and inspiration. Well, Art in the Park did not disappoint and provided me with both.
I am not sure how I have missed this art fair in previous years, but I am glad I found it. Set in a charming town square, this art fair had plenty of arts and crafts to delight the eyes and a performance stage in the town's gazebo to add some musical flair.

(Image: Medina County Art League) 
One of the artists I discovered, Kathleen Green, won an arts prize at last year's fair and this year did not disappoint with her gorgeously painted renderings of county life, including colorful clothes drying on a clothesline.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Creative Check-In

I am not a person who sets goals on January 1. I've tried. Actually, people who know me have heard me talking for months now about writing down my 2009 goals. Well, now that 2009 is almost half over, I've created a better technique for setting goals.

It's a mid-year creative check-in. I did it this weekend with the extra time I had to relax and reflect. I find the sun and the warmth of summer more hopeful and inspiring than the dreary winter when the real new year starts, which was why a mid-year check-in worked for me.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:
  1. How am I feeling creatively?

  2. What creative projects have I completed in the last 6 months, 3 months, 1 month?

  3. What creative projects have I started that need to be put aside or completed?

  4. What new inspiration have I found? Where?

  5. Have I tried to create in a new medium? If not, what can I try?

Monday, June 22, 2009

My Favorite Creativity Blogs

People always ask what creativity blogs I read on a regular basis. So I've put together a brief list to answer that question.

Creative Perch
Dee Wilcox is the author of this blog that has the simple goal to inspire creativity and encourage innovation. I love Dee's ability to balance practical creativity tips with real life examples of public art, especially guerrilla art.

The Fertile Unknown
This blog written by creativity consultant extraordinaire Michelle James explores the process of creative emergence and what that looks like in life and work, especially business.

Applied Imagination
This is the blog I go to when I want to know what's new in creativity. Steve Dahlberg does a wonderful job of sorting through the latest news on creativity and posting some of the most interesting ideas out there.

Creativity at Work
Looking at the intersection, or interplay, as author Linda Naiman refers to it, between art, science and business is the focus of this informative blog.

Life Unfolds
Jennifer Lee is a self-described Certified Coach, Writer, Leader, Artist, Yogini and Musepreneur. Her colorful and always creative blog chronicles her personal journey of creative expression.
  • Check out my bookshop for more of my favorite creative reads.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cleveland is Creative

(Image Courtesy of Fast Company)

Although, I have known this for awhile, the rest of the world is just catching up and realizing that Cleveland is creative. Featured as one of Fast Company's most creative cities, Cleveland joins other national cities like San Francisco and New York and international cities Taipei and Vancouver.

While the article focuses on the creative reuse of land in the city, there are so many other things here that make Cleveland creative and just a cool place to live.
  • Check out Cleveland.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Art Bar: Part II

(Image courtesy of Ithaca Fine Chocolates)

In a previous post I gushed about Art Bars never even having tasted one. Their concept of combining fair-trade chocolate bars and fine art seemed to be the perfect pairing.

Well, while I was in Los Angeles and visiting the gift shop at the Huntington Library I bought one: dark chocolate with coconut. Not only was the chocolate yummy, but the artwork inside was captivating: a miniature reproduction of an original sepia-toned silver gelatin print by Meg Birnbaum. The tiny little artwork also included a brief and well-appreciated interpretation.

Finally, a portion of the proceeds from Art Bars goes toward art education, including the International Child Art Foundation.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Creative LA

I'm no Richard Florida, but I think LA is one of the most creative cities. After my latest trip there, I am now further convinced by this. Why?

1. Location: Not only does LA have inspiring warm weather and beautiful light, but the ever-changing landscape of this metropolis is simply breathtaking. Whether you travel to the beach and become mesmerized by the ocean, drive through the awe-inspiring mountains or simply admire all of the colorful flora, LA is a feast for the eyes and imagination.

2. Attitude: The vibe in LA changes from community to community, but for the most part there is an underlying casual attitude that encompasses the entire area. Such a vibe can only foster the creative spirit and encourage you to take creative risks.

3. Diversity: Not only is the landscape diverse, but so are the 10 million+ residents that inhabit Southern California. Everywhere you travel, you see evidence of cultural diversity and often hear another language or two spoken nearby. There is such an assortment of inspiration around every corner.

  • What's your favorite creative city?

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Creative Power of Kids

Last week I taught about seven art classes in a row for kids in kindergarten through third grade. It was part of a Cultural Arts Day at an elementary school. I've participated in this program for the last three years as an artist.

This year, I noticed something interesting about the students. Normally, I have a mix of grades, but this year I started with the kindergartners and finished with the third graders. This progression gave me the opportunity to observe creative expression from the youngest kids in the school to the oldest.

And what did I notice? The youngest students were done with the project the quickest, while the older students finished just in time or not at all. I wondered why this was. Then I realized it was because the kindergartners had less inhibitions than the second and third graders. The older kids spent so much time analyzing the colors they chose and filling in all the details. Yet the younger kids went with their intuition and just had fun coloring.


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

World Creativity and Innovation Week

Have you heard about World Creativity and Innovation Week? It runs from April 15 - 21 and is a worldwide celebration of you guessed it, creativity.

The ability to imagine and create is something we are all born with but sometimes forget to use. This week is dedicated to fostering that spirit of ingenuity.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Creative Patterns

In my last post, I encouraged readers to increase their observation skills by looking closely as a tool to enhance creative thinking. I even described my own experience with this new way of looking at the world. I continued that exercise on my recent trip to Washington, DC - a city in which I lived for many years.

So you might assume that I had already seen everything there. But with my camera in hand, I learned there was a lot that I had missed. Mainly they were small details that I had overlooked in the past.

For example, above, I captured textiles at the National Museum of African Art. The textiles have similar colors and patterns and blend together to create a new pattern in my cropped image of them.

It made me stop and think how patterns can inspire creativity. Creativity is really about connecting existing patterns or objects and creating something new much like the textiles above.

  • What can you combine to create something new?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Waking Up Your Inner Artist

Spring is a great time to wake up your inner artist after a long winter. This year, I pulled out my Everyday Creative Cards for 30 Ways to Wake Up Your Inner Artist by Eric Maisel, a tool I have never used, despite them sitting on my bookshelf for years.

Since each card has a different inspiring message and activity, I decided to start by randomly selecting one from the deck. The card I chose happened to be one on growing creative by creating today. A quote at the top declared:

"Today is the best day to create. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow isn't here."

I had a little difficulty with the first task, which was to do some creative work. I thought about creating a mini collage, but then realized I didn't have enough time to pull out all of my images and supplies to complete one, so why start it in the first place?

Instead, I decided to focus on the second activity: respond creatively to life. It seemed like something I could fit into my busy schedule. So that day, I focused on observing as a creative tool. I really paid attention to even the smallest details throughout my day. I noticed the colors of houses and looked at the clouds in the sky comparing patterns. It made me appreciate my surroundings in a creative way. It turned out to be even more fulfilling than creating an actual piece of art.
  • Look for artistic connections as you respond creatively to life.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Twitter Tips for Creatives

I am a recent convert to Twitter. I resisted the temptation to join, because like most people, I didn't understand the benefits of tweets.

Last month, I finally took the plunge and joined Twitter. Once on the site, I immediately got hooked on finding other creatives to follow and reading their tweets and checking out their links.

I also found this article on Tweetable Art: 10 Twitter Tips for Artists. Some of the suggestions like linking to works in progress and your blog are pretty standard social media marketing, but I really like the idea of starting a collector's club by setting your account to private and offering discounts to those who follow you. Don't miss the comments section where there are even more tips.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

World Community Arts Day 2009

Celebrated on February 17, the third annual World Community Arts Day is a festival of art and activism. This year's celebration will be the largest so far. All event organizers ask is that you create an artwork, any media is fine, that highlights how the arts promote caring and sharing.

Last year, I contributed by creating a green collaged circle, the symbol that represents the day and submitting it to the festival's green circle flickr page. This year, I've joined their facebook group.