Discover Your Creative Type With This TED.Com Creative Quiz.

I think you’ll find this little quiz curiously interesting. Though I don’t recall how I came about it, I’m glad I did.

Creativity comes in a variety of forms as does “being creative.” But it’s not like we have a switch that we can simply flick on and off to control our creative flow. Although, at times, I wish it were that easy.

According to writer and professor Meta Wagner, “by discovering what drives you and your art, you can tap into your deepest motivations and achieve your full creative potential”.

Do any of these sound familiar?

— You believe you have a great creative talent, but you think your dreams of pursuing it full-time are childish and impractical.

— You spent months on a creative project. Then, you couldn’t decide if it was brilliant or worthless so you. just. stopped.

— You’ve sold a drawing/song/podcast/story/web series, and you’ve got more under way. But even though you’re succeeding, you find yourself waking up at night, worrying about competitors.

If you can relate to one or more of these scenarios, welcome to the creative life. Any artist you’ve ever heard of has had something besides talent, dedication or luck behind them: Most of them knew why they created. When you know what drives you — and what encourages and discourages you — you’re better able to keep yourself on track and enlist friends and colleagues to rally you during dry times or tough times.

The five creative types here grew out of the extensive research and thinking Ms. Wagner has done for the “Creativity in Context” seminar she teaches at Emerson College. Her students have responded enthusiastically, and she realized she’d tapped into something valuable for anyone creative.

Click the “start” button, take the quiz,* discover your type, and embrace a life fueled by your imagination and art. Let me know what Creative Type you are!

Meta Wagner writes about pop culture and creativity, and she’s been published in The Boston Globe, Huffington Post, Chicago Tribune, Salon and other outlets. Wagner teaches creative and communications writing at Emerson College and Boston University, where she was a 2017 TEDx speaker.

*BTW, when I took it, the results say I am a “game changer”. . .

“You’re looking to produce something new and different with your creativity. You don’t understand people who churn out variations of the same thing or who imitate other artists. Nothing pleases you more than smashing conventions, and the highest praise you can get is when someone says, “I’ve never seen or heard anything like this before.”
Just remember:You’re going to encounter a fair amount of criticism and rejection, so try not to let it derail you or make you too dejected. When you receive constructive criticism, see if it resonates with you and make changes as you see fit. But keep in mind that what you’re doing may make people uncomfortable or threaten anyone who is conventional or risk-averse. So, when you receive a rejection letter or email, do one of the following with it: burn it, frame it, delete it, spear it or save it so you can later send a note back to the rejecter saying ‘I told you so.’ Just don’t give up.”

TED

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.
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Can Good Friday Actually Be “Good”?

This blog usually highlights creativity and various aspects of innovation and imagination. On this Good Friday, I’m wondering if we as a society have what it takes to make it, and subsequent days, actually a good Friday.

Are we innovative and creative enough within each of us to make positive for civil discourse? Especially on those topics we disagree?

Though it would be a nice gesture to love our fellow man and woman, many don’t see that as reality. Treating one another with respect, however, is another matter. It’s one in which we should take to heart and do. All the time. Everyday.

Politics and religion don’t mix; at least, that’s what used to be said. Nowadays, one seems to feed off the other. If one person doesn’t like another’s religion, based in part of oft times misguided prejudices, that person ridicules, insults and basically treats that other person, whom he/she may not even know, like a second class citizen, if even that.

That’s wrong. That’s racism. That’s really being stupid.

I’m sure Jesus is looking down upon us all, shaking his head and thinking, “People, people what in Heaven’s name are you doing? That’s your brother; that’s your sister. Didn’t I teach you better than this?”

This is Friday. We’re at the end of the week, and what a week it has been. The sports world was stunned when we witnessed Tiger Woods win his fifth Green Jacket at The Masters (and his 15th major). No sooner than the celebration began did we learn about the horrific fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. And now the Mueller Report has been released, redactions and all.

Emotions have run high and low all week. Plus, this is Holy Week to boot. Jesus was crucified today and on Sunday (Easter) He rose. Let’s not forget Passover this weekend, too.

Given all that has gone on this past week and is yet to come, I pray that as a civilized people we can continue to come together; just a heck of a lot better than we’ve done thus far. It’s okay to disagree, folks; it’s not okay to berate, insult or make fun of someone simply because you don’t like what they said or how they look.

Alas, we seem to stray from true civil discourse and prefer to argue, sometimes violently rather than engage in calm rhetoric. We’re supposed to be creative individuals. Why not think in terms of possible solutions based upon our strengths and commonalities rather than our differences and negativity.

God blessed us with a brain. Let’s use it constructively along with our imagination to better our cause. But when we see injustice or something we don’t understand, it’s also okay to raise questions and challenge the status quo. We will never all see eye to eye.

But we all need to be moving forward. Onward and upward is not merely a catchy phrase, it’s a belief system. We have different and various beliefs, coming from disparate backgrounds and experiences. That’s a good thing.

So let us picture ourselves posing in a multinational, multiracial, multigenerational photo, arms crossed with hands clasped: Christians, Jews, Muslim, Arab, Israeli, Indian, LGBTQ, Martian (with and without antennae), Saturnite. That would make for a nice cover photo of Time’s Persons of the Year.

It would bring about a smile on Jesus’ face and put an extra bounce in the Easter Bunny’s hop. Let’s all try and have a truly good Friday and a blessed Holy Weekend.

 

Dreams . . . Cancer . . . Nightmares . . . Sleeplessness . . . What of Insomnia?

Note: This week begins a celebration of World Creativity and Innovation Week, April 15-21. I thought it appropriate to highlight some intriguing, insightful and, hopefully, entertaining bits and pieces of creativity and innovation from around our globe.

My initial offering deals with Insomnia and how, for some people, it can be truly nightmarish. This post includes information and images from both a presentation on insomnia and select photos by a photographer who has severely suffered from insomnia.

In this excerpt from an issue of Adobe Create Magazine, the photog takes us into his bizarre world of striking, nightmarish illusions.

And his fight with insomnia.

Photographer Nicolas Bruno has suffered from sleep paralysis since he was seven years old. In Bruno’s case, when he enters REM sleep, his mind becomes conscious, or awake, but his body remains asleep. During these recurring episodes, he experiences shortness of breath or pressure on his chest and the feeling that he’s being choked or is going to be killed. Screaming shadow figures menace him in bed. He’s unable to move, and the state seems to last hours. Sometimes it stops because he awakens; other times he moves into another dream. All of it is out of his control.

And you thought you had nightmares!

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When Bruno was fifteen, he began experiencing sleep paralysis almost every night. To help process the resulting stress, he kept a dream journal and then turned to drawing and photography. At first, he photographed mostly landscapes and abandoned places. Over time, he started making work directly inspired by what he goes through during sleep paralysis.

“Transforming my experiences with sleep paralysis into artwork not only helps me understand the dreams,” Bruno says. “It gives me a universal voice to speak about something almost impossible to describe with words. After I complete a photo shoot and see my final image, I feel so relieved to have transformed a once uncontrollable nightmare into something positive and tangible.”

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“The characters I portray within my work are figures I’ve documented within my sleep paralysis episodes. Faceless men in suits often stand at the foot of my bed, and women in dresses might float across my bedroom to shriek in my ear. Sometimes I’m grasped by hands that attempt to drag me off of my bed. These characters reoccur, transform, and sometimes reveal more about themselves as time goes on,” explains Bruno.

Though Bruno still suffers from regular episodes of sleep paralysis, he has learned to minimize the contributing factors, which include excessive stress, too much screen time before bed, an irregular sleep schedule, and sleeping in unfamiliar locations.

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“As I’ve become used to the feelings,” he says, “I’ve found that riding out the experience subdues the terrifying nature of the dream and can leave room for analysis, and even a quick exit. If you allow the fear to win, you’ll never have control of the situation. My advice is to build up your courage to face these dreams head on, whether it be through strength, religion, logic, or spiritualism.”

I struggle with sleeplessness and insomnia, too. Strange dreams of partially true vignettes of moments in my past life sometimes intermingle with “newly scripted” happenings, making for a weird combination of mental nighttime gymnastics.

I’m a cancer survivor as well as a caregiver to my wife. No stress here!

When I consider the various meds I take daily as well as the numerous decisions and judgement calls my wife and I make on a daily basis, it’s probably no wonder why I have insomnia. And weird dreams.

I was interested when I heard about a lecture recently given by MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston relative to sleeplessness and insomnia. Here’s a link to a presentation I received that evening so you, too, can gain insight into this all-too troubling disorder.

Please don’t hesitate to share your own insomnia stories, especially if you have learned some techniques to counter or offset this malaise.

 

 

 

 

Special Friday Edition: DaVinci, Einstein & the Chocolate Couple.

Every once in a while I see some sort of art exhibit that I just go “What the . . .?!”

I experienced this again recently and thought I’d share with you. As you’ll see, the exhibit, featuring actual live human beings, is both surreal and a bit unreal. Except that it is, uh, real, that is.

Evidently, this takes place each year in Belgium. It’s called the Statues en Marche festival in Marche-en-Famenne, Belgium. Various real live actors portray different characters. Some are famous as in DaVinci and Einstein, while others are less so, as in the Couple en Chocolat. 

DaVinci

An artist impersonating Leonard De Vinci takes part in the Statues en Marche celebration. REUTERS/Yves Herman

I’d love to know the backstory with some of these actors, given the amount of time some of them have to remain quite still. Regardless and from a journalist’s perspective, when was the last time you sat down and interviewed a couple of chocolate? This festival didn’t indicate what names, if any, some of the actors were portraying. Mr. & Mrs. Snickers?

ChocolateCouple in Belgium

Artists who call themselves “Le couple en chocolat” take part in the Statues en Marche festival in Marche-en-Famenne, Belgium. REUTERS/Yves Herman

 

Einstein Statue

An artist impersonating Albert Einstein in Marche-en-Famenne, Belgium. REUTERS/Yves Herman

Check out the Statues en Marche festival and more.

Creativity takes many forms in many different places. Intriguing!

Masking Emotional Creativity

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What an unusual and intriguing exhibit. Emotions on display.

Extraordinary.

When I first saw some of these works in an article, I thought “how inspiring!” So, I wanted to share. Creativity, as this blog illustrates, comes in a variety of executions. Even though digital seems to be everywhere these days, I find it refreshing to see exhibits like this one in London that showcase a traditional form of creativity – in paper.

The upcoming 2018 London Design Biennale will be devoted to the theme of ‘Emotional States’. National entries will explore how design affects every aspect of our lives – the way we live and how we live – and influences our very being, emotions and experiences.

For the second consecutive edition, Pentagram, the world’s largest independently-owned design studio, has created the visual identity and promotional materials for the Biennale. As with the previous identity, a restricted colour palette of orange, black and white is used.

In response to the theme of ‘Emotional States’ and taking inspiration from Charles Darwin’s seven universal emotions, Pentagram created and commissioned a series of arresting masks, handmade by Wakefield-based paper artist Andy Singleton and photographed by London-based John Ross.

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A universal phenomenon that spans centuries, masks have been used to interpret and illustrate the beautiful, the grotesque, the sublime – and everything else in between. Pentagram’s aim was to create a series of masks that could subtly, yet coherently, communicate this diverse range of emotional states.

Pentagram decided to use paper – supplied by G.F Smith – to create the final masks, owing to both its flexibility as a material, and its capacity to inspire intimacy from the intricate nature of its craft. Working with paper-artist Andy Singleton in an iterative process of trial and error, the final form of each mask was defined, and subsequently sculpted.

The resulting avant-garde masks, photographed by John Ross, bring the Biennale’s theme to life in a way that is independent of race, gender and age. The striking visual identity delivers captivating visuals that have been applied across the event’s online banners, print, outdoor, social media and marketing materials – which were also designed by Pentagram.

Masks 1

Masks 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read more about the upcoming September exhibit and

Pentagram’s involvement.

A French Quarter Tale: The Can

Note: This is a different kind of blog post. It’s my take on a short, short story; a brief tale, if you will. It’s also my take on where my imagination lead me following a dream I had recently. Submitted as a tribute in memory and in honor of the late Rod Serling, whom I regret I never got the chance to meet. Maybe someday. 

The corner store. The neighborhood grocery. Every town has one, except there’s no town quite like this one. There’s no store quite like this one. It befits its neighborhood, however. Both are quaint, old and, like the city, both have history.

Some would say colorful. Some, macabre.

By all appearances, this quaint neighborhood grocery store is not unlike many others. The shop owner is friendly, if not a bit surly at times. He stocks a small but ample variety of goods in keeping the interests of his neighbors in mind.

However, this is no ordinary neighborhood grocery. Shelf life, for some items at least, can seem to last longer than the items would like. Whilst sitting on the shelf and being on display, what goes through their minds?

Oh, come now, you say; they’re inanimate objects, they have no minds. Well . . .

Our tale centers around an everyday object in an everyday place; however, this object can’t see; it can only experience and sense. What it “sees” is hazy, blurry. It can sort of “hear” but it’s not sure what the sounds are or from whence they come. It doesn’t know where it is or even what it is. It only knows it is content and happy to be wherever it may be, peering out through some hazy blanket of blur as the world passes by.

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Courtesy of Pixabay & Photorama

This is our brief tale on life’s perspectives from a can on a shelf in a grocery store in the French Quarter in New Orleans . . . as told from The Twilight Zone.

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“There’s that blasted ringing, again! For some reason, everytime I hear that, a voice says ‘Hello’. A form of greeting?”

“Why can’t I move? Am I supposed to move? How long have I been here, wherever I am? I don’t seem to have any connotation of time or even what form I’m in. I don’t know why but I sense there are others around and beside me. Are we all the same?”

“Why do I have so many questions? Am I even supposed to “think,” whatever that is. Why is everything blurry? I get a feeling I’m inside somewhere. Wait, I see movement in front of me, but there’s something between me and the movement. ”

“What are those objects? They move in both directions, and some even stop and look toward me. Then they move on by. Why?”

“Whoa, what’s that? I’m moving! I’m being lifted off this shelf-thing. I, I’m being turned on my side. Hmmmm, I didn’t know I had sides. What’s happening to me?!”

“It’s blurry. Some figure is right in front of me and, whoa, I’m being put back on this shelf-thing. Why? What did I do? This figure in front of me seems to be picking up something next to me. But, wait. The figure takes it, emits a sound and drops it in some sort of carrying device. Why it and not me?!”

“Though I can’t quite make it out, there appears to be another figure pressing up against something and looking in. What is that? Wait, it appears to be looking right at me. Should I feel nervous, even though I don’t know what nervous is?

“Wonder what it’s like on the other side of that something? There appears to be lots of movement beyond me, in both directions.”

“There’s that ringing again. And the ‘Hello.’ Am I imagining all this? I dunno. Wait, now I think I see more figures slowing down in front of me. They both have those carrying devices like before.”

“Oh, boy, here we go again! I’m being picked up, turned on my side . . . and, nothing. What’s going on? ”

“Whooooaaaaa! I’m airborne. I’m upside down, then right side up, then . . . OUCH! I seem to have left my shelf-thing. Now, I think I’m on my side. Could it be I somehow landed in this figure’s carrying device?”

“WOW, what a different sensation!

As an aside, our can is now experiencing a sensation it has not “felt” in some time; not since it was first shipped to the store, unpacked and carried to the “shelf-thing”. It doesn’t know how long it’s been in the store nor where it’s next destination will be. 

“What’s happening to me? I feel like I’m moving, yet I’m in close quarters with other objects all around me.”

“Wait, what’s that? I sense that I’m in a different type surrounding than before. There are a lot more blurry figures all around. Is this “outside,” wherever that is? I don’t know what I’m feeling but my sides are getting warmer, and things seem to be, uh, brighter?”

“Where are we going? I demand to know! Put me down this instant!”

“What’s this? We seem to have arrived somewhere. There are more blurry figures but I think we’re inside some other place now.”

“Ah, finally, my colleagues and I are getting out of this contraption. Whoa, here I am again, airborne!”

“‘Umph!’ rough landing, there. Okay, I don’t recognize this place but there seems to be a lot of activity here. Good. Maybe I can acquaint myself with some of the others who made this jaunt with me.”

“Wait, I’m getting dizzy, I’m going upside down. What’s happening to me? Gaaa!”

“I’m being shaken. Whoa, this is not good. I, I’m losing something. Oh, my, it appears to be what I’ve been holding inside me all this time. What is that? I can just barely make it out; it’s blurry but it appears to be . . . Ahhhhhhh!”

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Courtesy of Pixabay & markusspiske

“I’m airborne again, twisting end over end; getting dizzy and lightheaded. Now, what. All has stopped. I’m not moving. Everything is dark. I feel funny. I don’t like this.”

“‘OUCH!’ What the . . . something just landed on top of me. Where am I? Hello, anyone there? Hello . . .?”

The hustle and bustle goes on. The blurry figures continue with their appointed tasks. This kitchen, you see, is busy getting orders ready to serve their demanding customers. A variety of culinary delights are being prepared with ingredients from all over the city. Even though fresh vegetables and fruit are a vital part of this kitchen, every once in awhile, canned goods are utilized in a mix of seasoning. Simple but tasty.

Our subject in this tale has involuntarily offered up its flavorful contents to please the palate of a waiting and hungry patron. Its journey has ended as it now rests among others experiencing a similar fate: The darkness of despair, which some of us would refer to as a garbage heap.

Postscript: This brief tale is offered up to the everyday shoppers, consumers and others who go about their daily lives perhaps pondering if this is all that life presents. The curious among us may pursue but we suggest one simply enjoy what some may deem merely an imaginative tale from the perspective of a can in the French Quarter . . . as told from The Twilight Zone.

 

This post first appeared on my other blog, Joe’s Journey.

Images: Potent Portraits of Creative Expression

Images have a way of striking our emotions. Creativity is fueled. Emotions are stoked.

Some folks get upset, angry, sad. Others become calm, excited, enthusiastic, joyful.

Shock, horror, puzzlement, admiration.

Some find peace while others find fear. Art and photography have a way of doing this. Museums and art galleries tend to bring these feelings out in all of us.

These past few months I’ve come across a variety of different images, different ways of conveying creativity. Since that’s what this blog is all about, I thought I’d share  a taste of what I’ve viewed.

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“Pamela’s Voice” in Night Gallery

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, The Guggenheim Museum in New York, and, yes, even Rod Serling’s Night Gallery in your mind are fine examples of artistic and creative expression. Those of you outside the U.S. who may not be familiar with Mr. Serling may find this rather intriguing regarding the paintings featured in his Night Gallery.

 

A few weeks ago I wrote about a summer conference I attended at Houston’s Jung Center on Imagination. As they often do, the Center featured several paintings on display at that time. A few caught my eye for one reason or another. If you’d like more information about these images, please contact The Jung Center.

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“Chaos” – Margaret Wheeler (Grami)

I was struck by the vibrant colors immersed onto a dark background, but with areas of white and yellow stubbornly bursting through. I thought, “Chaos, indeed, but in a quiet, peaceful setting.”

 

 

 

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“Rising” – Kutani Village, Japan – Roy Spann

 

I just thought this was a neat photograph. Then, the more I looked at it, I thought . . . “Hmmmm, umbrellas in variety of colors . . . would make an interesting ad for Travelers Insurance.”

 

 

 

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“Protector” – Tamer Ghoneim

This reminded me of some very cool abstract art that Apple may have for a screen saver, very vibrant in colors – you can’t take your eyes off it. I couldn’t. It’s actually a photo print on metal.

 

 

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Part of the Vanzant Driver presentation, “The Street of Heaven Was As Glass”

 

Vanzant’s discussion was intriguing on “The Visionary Imagination” alongside Jay Wehnert. This illustration was one of several artistic expressions presented that challenged the “boundaries of the imagination.”

These next two images below were not part of the Jung Center’s exhibit, but two very different photographs that caught my eye.

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Iconic Statue on the Notre Dame campus

This first one was sent to me from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN as part of a Thank You for supporting the university.

It captures one of the iconic statues on campus during Winter with the Golden Dome peaking out from the background. Note the areas of snow  acting as “winter eyebrows.”

This second one was an ad I saw in a publication, Arts+Culture, based in Dallas, Texas. It’s one fine publication covering the arts and culture scene in Texas.

The photo immediately captured my attention because I wasn’t sure if I saw what I thought I saw: A young girl “shooting the bird.” Then I read the caption: “A little rebellion now and then is a good thing.” Thomas Jefferson said that and I’m inclined to agree.

Little girl gesturing

“Nic Noblique – Sculptor” – photo of Azo by her mom, Audra Sewell Noblique.

The ad is for Nic Noblique -Sculptor. When I emailed Nic for permission to run the ad featuring his daughter, he told me the ad had received quite a few comments and he’d gotten good response from it. The photo, taken a few years ago when Azo was seven (she’s now 12), afforded their daughter the opportunity to flip the bird and “get it out of her system.”

I applaud both Nic and his wife Audra, not to mention their daughter, for having the guts to run an ad like this, and Arts+Culture Magazine for having the maturity to approve it for publication.

Art is a very subjective medium. Advertising can be as well. Both can be perplexing. As varied as our society is today, so are the images we confront.

Kudos to the creatives and artists who continue to push the envelope with taste and style and who entice our imagination and intrigue our minds.

And a thank you to those museums and galleries who think enough of the contributions to our collective, creative universe to exhibit and publish these works.

To the creators, go the spoils.

To the viewers, go the enjoyment.

To everyone, onward. Create!