Bored? Good! Quarantined? Yes! How’s Your Creativity? Read This.

Anxiety, panic, fear, pandemic stress: The cornerstones of the negative universe. Yet, while all hell is breaking around us, can we still muster up the courage to innovate and create. Is creativity still alive or is it merely napping? Do we create out of despair or want? Out of necessity or desire? I guess that depends on each one of us.

In a recent article in Psychology Today, boredom is cited as an almost certain stimuli for creativity. Now, some of you may not agree with this, and that’s okay. If you don’t and even if you do, let me hear from you with your reasoning.

According to the article, which contains some very interesting points I want to share with you, you’ll see explosive creativity everywhere you look: in how people stuck at home are constructing elaborate recreations of their favorite artworks for the #GettyChallenge; or how we make ways to connect—whether it’s singing from our balconies or happy hour delivery via drones—while social distancing; even in the acerbic memes and uplifting stories flooding social media to offer inane distractions and inspire hope during this crisis.

Interestingly, quarantine and the resulting ennui (a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of excitement) of our home-bound brains have proven to be a catalyst for innovation. Thus, boredom breeds inventive creativity, as long as it’s the right kind of boredom.

Fruitful Boredom

Psychological studies describe five levels of boredom: indifferent, calibrating, searching, reactant, and apathetic. In its seeking state, boredom drives us to find something to engage and delight us. Think of the imaginary friend you had as a child; you did have an imaginary friend, didn’t you? Or the games you’d play with that certain stuffed animal, whose goal in life seemed to be avoiding Mom’s washing machine. Both scenarios seemed to trigger one’s own imagination, and, thus, your creativity. (Note: At least it did mine.)

In today’s society, real boredom escapes us; it seems everywhere you look, all eyes are staring into multiple-shaped devices hosting 24/7 news and entertainment. It’s as if we have to go out of our way to truly be bored.

bonding time of mother and child

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

While technology provides us creative outlets and a means of connecting when we are physically isolated from one another, these distractions are like the digital equivalent of junk food for our brains while good old fashioned boredom is a hunger that nurtures creative thinking.

What’s unique about this quarantine is that it constrains us in so many ways.  Our typical means of working, socializing, and even provisioning ourselves have been dramatically restricted. And while people tend to think that constraints limit creativity and innovation, research proves quite the opposite to be true.

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New Report Reveals Crisis in Creative Effectiveness

We like to think that every creative execution hits right on target. Well, we know better even when we don’t like to admit it. A recent report from the UK, suggests quite the opposite, that creative effectiveness is being called into question.

UK advertising agencies are fast-paced, dynamic and produce advertising, media and marketing that many consider to be the envy of the world.  One organization that voices their concerns, showcases their work and continuously develops their skills to keep them at the top of their game is the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), incorporated by Royal Charter.

The IPA exists to help members be the best they can be. They set the protocols for the UK industry’s best practice standards. They advise on how to choose an agency, how to run an agency or how to behave if you work in an agency. They also work collaboratively with members to improve diversity within the industry.

So, as this new report makes the rounds of the British ad scene, it will be interesting to see what the reaction is. It will, I dare say, be interesting to watch what, if any, reaction there is here in the US. If anything, the US has always been much more conservative in our approach to advertising compared to the UK. Does that conservatism mean our ads are more effective than theirs. Doubtful. It’s sort of like comparing apples and oranges. Continue reading

“Creativity,” Again, Most In-Demand Soft Skill for 2020, Says LinkedIn!

Not surprisingly, CREATIVITY is once again king of the soft skills for 2020. Based on a LinkedIn Learning report from earlier this year, Creativity was not only the most in-demand soft skill last year, it has retained its place as we move onward in 2020.

Furthermore, LinkedIn said, “Organizations need people who can creatively approach problems and tasks across all business roles, from software engineering to HR”.

LinkedIn Learning researched timely data from their network of over 660+ million professionals and 20+ million jobs to reveal the 15 most in-demand soft and hard skills of 2020. Persuasion, collaboration, adaptability and emotional intelligence rounded out the top five, all skills that demonstrate how we work with others and bring new ideas to the table.  Four of the five most in-demand soft skills remain in their top spots year over year.

The lone exception, LinkedIn noted, was emotional intelligence — defined as the ability to perceive, evaluate and respond to your own emotions and the emotions of others — a newcomer to its list, which “underscores the importance of effectively responding to and interacting with our colleagues.”

The one variation in the most in-demand soft skills list indicates that companies are gravitating toward talent with interpersonal and people-oriented skills. It’s notable that employers are placing more emphasis on emotional intelligence in particular.

The top 5 most in-demand soft skills are: 

#1 Creativity – Same as 2019

Organizations need people who can creatively approach problems and tasks across all business roles, from software engineering to HR. Focus on honing your ability to bring new ideas to the table in 2020.

#2 Persuasion – Same as 2019

Leaders and hiring managers value individuals who can explain the “why.” To advance your career, brush up on your ability to effectively communicate ideas and persuade your colleagues and stakeholders that it’s in their best interest to follow your lead.

#3 Collaboration – Same as 2019

High-functioning teams can accomplish more than any individual—and organizations know it. Learn how your strengths can complement those of your colleagues to reach a common goal.

#4 Adaptability – Same as 2019

The only constant in life—and in business—is change. To stand out in 2020, embrace that reality and make sure to show up with a positive attitude and open-minded professionalism, especially in stressful situations.

#5 Emotional Intelligence – New

Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive, evaluate, and respond to your own emotions and the emotions of others. New to the most in-demand skills list this year, the need for emotional intelligence underscores the importance of effectively responding to and interacting with our colleagues.

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Crisis Coping for Creative Pros – Part 3 of 3

Over the past two blog posts about crisis coping, we’ve listened in on a conversation between the author, Ellyn Kail, and photographer Danny Ghitis about various methods to cope for creatives who have been entangled in the Coronavirus pandemic.

In this, the third and last post of the series, they explore what it’s like finding a sense of community during these very scary times.

*********************************

In the last two weeks, I have received more than two dozen emails about the temporary closures of galleries and studio spaces amid the coronavirus pandemic. I’ve received several more about canceled exhibitions. This is a period of uncertainty for the photography community as a whole, but in this time, we’ve also witnessed people coming together.

In between those letters about closures and cancelations, there have also been emails from artists who are hosting camera giveaways, publishers who are discounting their books, and non-profit organizations who are offering free talks and photog resources.

Globally, photographers are sharing information about how we can donate supplies to local hospitals and encouraging us all to practice social distancing for the safety and well-being of the community.

Over the past week, we’ve spoken to the photographer and professional development coach Danny Ghitis about how creatives can cope during this time and continue to create meaningful work in unprecedented circumstances.

Photography, like any art form, can be a solitary pursuit, but it’s also full of communities and resources. With all the recent gallery closures and exhibition cancellations, how can photographers stay connected and engaged with one another?

“This is so crucial. One of the main causes of my own burnout was a feeling of isolation as a photographer, and that was way before all this coronavirus mayhem. We are wired to need other people. That lone wolf photographer icon can be really damaging because it makes asking for help look like a weakness when, in reality, it’s a superpower.

“In a way, this moment offers a unique opportunity. Everyone is struggling with the same overarching challenge. Everyone needs help, and we have the technology to easily stay in touch. We’re not as spread thin as usual with a thousand networking events, galleries, meetings, etc. So reach out, offer support, provide feedback, invite conversation, have a virtual coffee, host a roundtable discussion.”

Has the creative community faced any upheavals like this one in recent years, if not on the same scale? If so, what can we learn from that time, and how can we apply those lessons to the here and now?

“I graduated from college with a photojournalism degree in 2006, the year before the iPhone hit the market and changed everything. The newspaper bureau where I interned closed a couple months after I arrived (not my fault, I swear!). I started my freelance career at the same time as the 2008 financial meltdown.

“Somehow, I made it work and grew as a human and professional. And guess what, I’m not that special. Human beings are resilient by evolutionary design. We’ve outlasted and overpowered nearly every other living organism and are capable of incredible adaptation. If you’re reading this and you’re human, you already have the tools you need inside your body.”

What are some ways you see the creative community coming together right now to support and help one another? Any moments that have given you hope?

“All of a sudden we’re in it together. We have a common struggle and purpose. We’re thinking collectively like a tribe like in the good old prehistoric days. Of course, we don’t wish sickness and suffering upon anyone and hope this goes away soon, but it does offer a unique opportunity to see the big picture.

“I keep getting emails and social media posts about virtual gatherings and support groups, and I am getting more messages than usual from friends checking in. I just started an online meetup group, and there are lots of others out there if you’re willing to search. It’s all about taking initiative and reaching out.”

How would you advise photographers and other creatives who suddenly have a lot of free time on their hands?

“This can be viewed as a great opportunity because we’re being forced to evaluate how to spend our time wisely. First, the mindset work. If you’re not in a good state of mind, it’s very hard to be focused and productive. If you want business results, practice self-care. Remember how flight attendants demonstrate putting on your oxygen mask first? Same deal. Take care of yourself to take care of others.

“Ask yourself, ‘How can I serve?’ It’s easy to get caught up in self-centered problem solving during a crisis, while orienting toward service can be more effective in creating action and will make you feel better. What do others need, and what skills do you have that can help them?”

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We are truly living in unprecedented times. Deadly times. History has recorded plagues, wars, and various catastrophes yet we’ve managed to survive. Granted, the planet has lost life in measurable means before but we’ve never faced a global pandemic like this before. I guess, in a sense, this could be compared to chemical warfare on a global scale from an invisible enemy.

Yet, we will live on. We will create and innovate. We have to do that now to find a vaccine to nullify the virus so we may begin to get used to a new normal. Things won’t be the same since we won’t be the same, those of us who will survive. But we will. We have to. Together. Smarter. Stronger. More persistent. Less partisan.

Wait, what’s that? It’s creativity knocking at the door. Let’s welcome her in, shall we!

 

This is part three of three of our interview with Danny Ghitis. Here are parts one and two.

 

Creativity in the Corporate Ivory Tower? Sheesh, surely you jest?!

This is not a whodunit, nor is it a Perry Mason murder mystery about the Case of the Kangaroo Court. What it is, however, is the Business Case for Creativity.

An excerpt from a review of the book itself reveals, “Debate in the advertising and marketing industries has raged for decades: does creativity make advertising more effective? Or is it just the folly of creative people looking to win their next award?

“The arguments of both advocates and cynics have until recently been based on conjecture and anecdotal evidence. James Hurman’s seminal creative effectiveness book The Case for Creativity brings the debate to a conclusion with three decades of international research into the link between creativity and business results.”

Tom Roach, BBH’s (Bartle-Bogle-Hegarty) effectiveness head, was asked by Thinkbox to present the business case for creativity at their spring event. Inspired by Thinkbox’s own  innovative slide desk, the presentation he gave brought together the best evidence for the value of creativity in marketing communications. Here are excerpts from that presentation along with my own take on the case for creativity.

Case for creaivity

Simply stated, without creativity one has nothing. The beautifully executed creative plan of an advertising campaign can not be overshadowed by something comprised of “just the facts.” The campaign must have charisma, its own personality, to be believable. However, being believable doesn’t necessarily mean playing it safe or conservative.

Take this attitude from Keith Wood of Unilever in his Forward of the book:

Forward-Case for Creativity

That may be the case but the industry still has a ways to go and many more folks need to know. While this may be true, can we say there is a crisis in creativity? If so, how so and what is it?

First, let’s take a step or two back and ask: “What do we mean by creative?”

Well, there’s this . . .

Novel . . .

And this . . .

Good ideas . . .

And this somewhat in-your-face guideline . . .

Make it different . . .

Okay, all good and fruitful definitions and clarifications of what creativity is or entails. As with several key issues in the business world, creativity is complicated, especially when the problem is multifaceted and everyone on the marketing committee has a different viewpoint.

But, is there a crisis in creativity? Well, let’s see.

Trends Wrkg Against

Campaign effectiveness has fallen (UL), Budgets have been falling (UR), Short-termination has been rising (LL), Long-term cases have lost efficiency (LR)

Ad Blocking

Hmmmmm, looking kinda murky, isn’t it? Let’s consider this :

Rising Sea

 

Smart Phones

Autos

Ah, yes, nothing like differentiation in car ads!

 

Case for creaivity

 

Creative Companies

S&P 500

Disruption

Creative Execution

Emotional

Ad Slogans

While the above slides are true, I vote for more thoughtfulness and less cutesyness. In some advertising, the ad could have the audio muted (saying what the ad is about) with just the video or image shown, and most folks wouldn’t be able to tell what product is being promoted. Let’s face it, cars and cologne can be interchangeable. And, I guess, trucks are destined to be driven only in the “out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere” scenarios.

Creativity Brings

I’d like to add at least one more: Intangibles. Sometimes you just don’t know what makes a good ad good. It just works.

 

Our Objective

I definitely agree with this last poster. Effectiveness is key to creative execution. Smart creativity is a must. Play to one’s audience still applies but do so without insulting their intelligence. I’ll go out on a limb and say that, generally speaking, a twenty-something copywriter has little to no understanding of how best to relate to the “senior plus” set, unless he can relate to his grandparents.

Case for Creativity Book

If you want to view a more in-depth portrayal of this presentation, see the Business Case for Creativity. It’s not your ordinary slide deck. Neither is the book on which the presentation is based.

Fun, Frivolous, Famous, and Fearless Quotes . . . Food for your Soul!!

red-quotation-marks-vector-online-royalty-free-picture-435958Here we are again, searching through the online Quote Bag. Some of the gems I found are listed below.

Your respite into the world of famous and sometimes infamous quotes from a variety of personalities. Any one of these could prove motivation for that ad you’re working on, tweak your imagination, inspire you or just plain bring a smile to your face.

 

Charles Kettering Quote

I am looking for a lot of men who have an infinite capacity to not know what can’t be done.” – Henry Ford

My stories run up and bite me on the leg. I respond by writing down everything that goes on during the bite.” — Ray Bradbury, the author of Twilight Zone’s 100th episode!

Ray Bradbury Title Card

From someone on Twitter:
It was the great Ray Bradbury, whom I interviewed as a young reporter and aspiring novelist going in five different directions at once and totally befuddled.  His simple advice to me:  “Write what you love to read.”

Rod Serling Quote

 

Mark Twain Quote

 

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”   – Albert Einstein

There have been three writers that most suit me: Rod Serling, Clifford Odets and Neil Simon. With Neil it was the humor and the rhythms. Odets, the staccato. But with Rod Serling, it was the anger, the defiance and fire. He brought such fire to everything he wrote.” — Jack Klugman

No knowledge of what went before. No understanding of what is now. No knowledge of what will be.  #ZoneQuotes #S3E14  “Five Characters in Search of an Exit” by Rod Serling

Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties.” – Erich Frommred-quotation-marks-vector-online-royalty-free-picture-435958

 

 

 

 

Which ones ring true for you? Inspire you? Make you want to scratch your head and say “Huh?” Let me know in the comments.

Colorfully Weird, “Speeding” Image Wins Hyundai Cannes Lion. Should it Have?

Winning an award in the advertising business is a big deal. The really big deals come annually during the sun-baked, beach-worshipping, booze-enhanced party in France known famously as the Cannes International Festival of Creativity. This year was no exception.

Except. One campaign that did win a Lion was done by MullenLowe/SSP3 for Hyundai called Speeding Emojis. As their brief explained, “Every day, more people are involved in car accidents for texting and driving. To make drivers aware of this issue, we decided to use one of the most common elements, when it comes to writing: emojis. But we wanted to use them in a different way. So, we decided to show how they would look at 69, 85, 43 and 76 km/h to prove that texting and driving at the same time just doesn’t make sense.”

Color Swirl Hyundai Ad

Colorful representation of an emoji used while texting when traveling at various high speeds. Note the vertical line of copy at left basically saying “don’t text at xy speed and drive.”

The explanation given in the brief by the agency obviously doesn’t appear in the ad, nor should it. Given this, how is one to know what the image is? While the single line of copy is pretty self-explanatory, the big-ass image of a color swirl is not.

The campaign also uses several different emoji varieties with accompanying swirls of different colors, tying in with that emoji.

Color Swirl Hyundai-green

Another in series of colorful swirls in Hyundai’s Don’t (emoji) and Drive campaign

Given that the image dominates the ad and the tag line is sort of lost, it sort of begs the question: What the Hell does the image represent and/or why isn’t that explained in some fashion? Given an art director’s or designer’s perspective, one might wonder, “How’d they do that?” or “What is that supposed to be?”

Well, this is where it gets even more interesting. According to a post on Twitter, a very “similar looking” image is available from Shutterstock. Now, it’s not unusual to use stock imagery in spec work or presentations but unless an agency is in partnership with a stock footage and imagery company like Shutterstock, this is highly unusual and probably not even kosher. There’s not even a credit given to Shutterstock in the ad nor to the designer who created the original artwork, Rik Oostenbroek.

Color Swirl Hyundai-large

Color swirl image via Shutterstock compared to image used in Hyundai ad campaign.

I’m surprised that, to my knowledge thus far, neither Shutterstock nor Rik Oostenbroek have contacted the agency or Hyundai about about this; of course, this assumes that approval was given beforehand. Even if it was, where’s the credit?

In reporting on the story, Adweek requested a response from MullenLowe who sent the following:

“In regards to this particular campaign, the images were identified as the most fitting way to illustrate the important ‘don’t text and drive’ message for our client. The appropriate rights for the four images were purchased through the correct channels and we acted legally within the terms of the licence. We have been in contact with the artist claiming credit for the work on social media, with a full explanation of the creative process and the surrounding legalities.

“D&AD investigated the entry and deemed it eligible on the evidence provided.”

But . . . where’s the originality? Some folks may not have a problem with using stock imagery in ads while I’m sure some do. Are we seeing some sort of trend in advertising? What’s the proper use of stock photography and when and where should it be used?

“If you literally copy and paste something and stick a line of copy on it, I don’t think it’s worthy of an award,” said Chris Garbutt, global CCO of TBWA\Worldwide and a frequent awards juror. “I don’t think it’s enough to do that anymore.”

I believe this ad and its campaign has a few issues. Feel free to write in the comments section of this blog and let me know your thoughts.

Personally, these images remind me of something caught in a time warp, but absolutely nothing concerning automobiles. The concept of “don’t text and drive” could apply to any cell phone provider’s message, for that matter.

The images do illicit one’s attention. However, their reaction may produce a “WTF?”

Go figure.

 

Lady of the Living Room

A short, “short” (story).  This “short” came to me in a dream sequence recently. It was so vivid yet I could never identify the Lady, but I sort of recalled the Living Room.

 

I found her standing in the middle of the living room. But whose? This is not my house but for some reason it’s familiar. How did I get here? Who is this woman?

Attractive, stylish, middle-aged woman, dressed like 60’s women, complete with non-bufont hairdo. She’s in a silver-white business suit with dress buttons down front leading to a big belt buckle.

Martha Stewart Silhoutte

Silhouette by marthastewart.com

She’s actually from the sixties. Aside from her appearance, I seem to know that for some reason.

She never says her name.

Gazing intently into my eyes, she seems to know what I’m thinking and wondering.

She then proceeds to undress.

She gradually strips off her clothing, asking for some assistance from me. During so, she openly talks about having black underwear but not like the conservative styles of sixties’ fashion for “women her age.”

She embraces me and coyly purrs that she’s ten years older – – how does she know?

The Lady stands there before me, completely nude except for shiny black dress high heels. She appears to be completely comfortable and says she’s always been very open and passionate about sex, and with men of all ages.

We embrace and have a passionate kiss. Only then do I break away to get a drink when I discover the surroundings have changed.

We’re still in a house but not “that” house. Don’t know what’s happened but now I seem to be back in the sixties.

What power has she? Can I get back to my reality? Have I changed? Why has she done this?

“You told me I looked like a lady from the sixties,” she declares. “Well, you’re right; I am a lady from the sixties. And now you’re back in the sixties, too, dah-ling,” she purrs rather matter-of-factly.

“Where you’ll stay!” she blurts out flatly.

Martha Stewart Silhoutte 2

Silhouette by marthastewart.com

She starts laughing slowly; first a chuckle, then intensifying into full blown, hysterical laughter, all the while having a slight but wicked twinkle in her eye.

Then in a flash, she’s gone. Poof!

Startled, I begin to look around when I notice the windows and how pretty a day it is outside. Maybe my reality still exists beyond that window. As I near the window, however, I’m shocked to see that it’s just a painting. That’s not all; as I look around the room, I notice that ALL the windows are paintings.

What’s going on?

I move toward another window/painting, but as I pass in front of what I know is a mirror, I stop dead in my tracks. The reflection is of myself; yet, it can’t be.

Then I hear, faintly but distinctly, her hysterical laughter once again.

It appears I have now become the Lady of the Living Room.

 

©Copyright Joe Fournet/Ideas&MORE 2020. All Rights Reserved.

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.

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!

BrunoSleepless-3

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.”

BrunoSleepless-1

“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.

BrunoSleepless-2

“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.