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?

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!