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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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.

 

 

 

 

Happy Halloween? The Trumpster Gets Treated.

Young trick or treaters being scared by a Trump-like figure with orange hair and carrying two very full pumpkins of candy

Striking, isn’t it? Kinda scary, too; well, at least for the little kiddos, all masked up with candy-laden pumpkins running for their lives. It’s Halloween, after all, and when I saw this illustration I couldn’t resist sharing on this most appropriate of “holiday.”

This blog is not purposefully political but because this cover art of a well-known magazine gets one’s attention by the illustration, I thought it worthy of being shared.

There will, of course, be those who don’t find it funny in the least; others will think it hilarious. Artwork, in this illustrative form, is very creative. It does more to entice the reader inside to view the story than any photograph would do.

It also helps that it’s Halloween.

The New Yorker offers a playful trick-or-treat-themed cover—with a political edge. The work of illustrator Mark Ulriksen, a longtime contributor to the magazine, it shows President Donald Trump striking fear into the hearts of trick-or-treaters.

When New Yorker Art Editor Francoise Mouly interviewed Mr. Ulriksen, he briefly addressed the political subtext of the cover:

Mouly: Your previous Halloween covers have featured a haunted version of the Capitol and some colorful characters in Congress. We’re sensing a theme.

Ulriksen: Yes, I somehow equate Washington politicians with scary monsters.

Well, there you have it, boys and girls.

Happy Halloween, everybody.

BOO!

Masking Emotional Creativity

Mask-tongue

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.

Mask1

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.

Sir John at 2018 Cannes Festival of Creativity on, well, Creativity.

Okay, I’ll admit it, I’ve been involved in the advertising and marketing industry for a long time. Mostly, I’ve enjoyed it. I love creating things. I love the creative process, creative problem solving. I love creativity.

Creativity is, in part, what this blog is all about. It’s also, me thinks, one of those words that is vastly overused, and when you ask several people what is meant by it, you’ll get several different responses. It’s difficult for most folks to equate creativity with, say, engineering. Frankly, I think it was damned creative when the design and engineering of the Golden Gate Bridge came about.

Creativity is always evolving. We, as creative practitioners, should be evolving right along with it. So, whenever I see an article on the subject or hear a renowned expert talk about it, I want to read and listen to what is said. Maybe I can pick up some tips.

That happened recently when reading an issue of AdAge. I thought I’d share some of what I read.

The expert: Sir John Hegarty.

Sir John Hegarty Cannes 2016

Sir John Hegarty attends The Cannes Lions 2016 on June 20, 2016 in Cannes, France.
(June 19, 2016 – Source: Christian Alminana/Getty Images Europe)

Sir John was attending the 2018 Cannes Festival of Creativity where he’s been coming since 1989. A founding shareholder in Saatchi & Saatchi and a co-founder of TBWA London before starting Bartle Bogle Hegarty in 1982, Sir John has himself been behind hall of fame work for Levi’s, Volkswagen and Audi. Never shy about his opinions, Hegarty took the opportunity of yet another Cannes Lions to share a few thoughts on the current state of creativity with Ad Age.

A few excerpts from the interview by . . .

You’ve bemoaned the increasing role data and tech have played in the creative process.

I was accused by Martin Sorrell of being a dinosaur because somebody said “Hegarty doesn’t believe in data,” which is not actually true. Data is fundamentally important. One of the greatest stories ever told, the Nativity, came out of data collection, didn’t it? You’ve got to remember a brand’s job is also to convert.  . . . Go out and throw your net wide. How do I know who’s going to like what I’m selling?

Meaning that with targeting, advertisers are preaching to the converted?

It’s not that. It’s a lazy way of marketing: “Look at the data, what does the data tell us? It’s an instruction manual!” No, it’s not an instruction manual. You’ve got to think about how you’re building the values of this brand. I know I’m boring and I say this all the time, but a brand is made not only by the people who buy it but also by the people who know about it.

“Those people” being the brand itself and also agents of the brand?

If I say to you “Rolls Royce,” you say, “Ooh!” You’re probably not going to buy one, but by talking to a broad audience who understands what your brand is about, you become part of culture. We are forgetting that part of advertising’s function of course is about effectiveness, but it’s also helping that brand become a part of culture.

Last year the talk was all about Fearless Girl. There doesn’t seem to be a corollary this year.

I’ll get provocative here again: Fearless Girl did what for the brand? I don’t know what brand it was associated with. We’ve lost connection. We’ve confused persuasion with promotion. Everybody got hugely excited about the Nike FuelBand 10 years ago. I thought it was a brilliant promotion. I used to be a runner. There was no way I would ever run in Nikes. New Balance, yes. I don’t care how many FuelBands you create, I won’t buy them. I don’t think you make a great running shoe. You have to persuade me.

What do you make of consultancies moving into the agency space?

Why shouldn’t these people get involved? Unless you understand how to convert that into a communications program that stands out in the marketplace, then what’s the point? The trouble is agencies are their own worst enemies and are not very good at establishing a trusted rapport with clients.

You mentioned the Nativity being the original data-informed creative. You look at the Ten Commandments, some of the most enduring “content” ever, and it was written on stone. The oldest medium there is.

Exactly. The greatest brand in the world is the Catholic Church. Best logo. Every lesson in marketing is there. The point is: Two thousand years, some problems, still going. Where will you be in 2,000 years?

Well, gee, Sir John, I don’t know where I’ll be in 2,000 years. I imagine I’ll most likely have been turned into a pile of dust somewhere or maybe I’ll have been recycled somehow. The key word here is imagine-ation. It’s the heart and soul of creativity. Each one of us has an unlimited imagination and boundless creativity — even when we think we don’t.

It’s when limitations are thrust upon us that our abilities are challenged. At times, our creativity is even called into question. As Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” It’s what we do with our knowledge that’s important.

How may we apply creativity and that imagination to do something constructive with that knowledge, to contribute to society, to help educate someone; heck, even to make someone laugh. We must keep on creating, keep on striving.

Does it take a mindset of creativity to be creative? Huh, imagine that!

If Spring Was Season of Creativity, What, Then Is Summer?

It’s Summertime! Generally, we all think of summer as starting on June 1 and going through August 31. Summer 2018 actually started June 21, the Summer Solstice, our longest day of the year.

What the heck does summer have to do with our creativity, anyway? Are we inspired because of the summer rains, weary of the intense heat, but relaxed and excited about our vacations?

Or do we hit our creativity pause buttons because of all these? Summer Time is supposed to be Fun Time, isn’t it? Isn’t creativity synonymous with fun?

Well, let’s step back a bit, shall we. My friend, Felix Scardino, LCSW, sends out a regular message at least once a quarter about various insights on creativity and the mind, art and psychology. In a message a few months ago, Felix referred to Thomas Merton reminding us that in Winter, plants appear dead, yet within them are resources that lead to new life. Spring thus bursts forth with color and growth, a season of creativity.

Season of Creativity

According to Felix, Spring can remind you not to jump to dire conclusions when all seems lost, when you can’t see much in your future, or when you feel that your reserves have dried up.

He notes that our resources for new ideas and insights are often so hidden that our lives look like dead branches, and we’ll begin to see shoots of life and hope, which usher us into our Spring.

Are we suppressing any feelings, hiding insights, feeling weary about expression? What of our hidden voice? Isn’t it time to feel alive again, to, as Felix puts it, allow what lives inside of us to come out?

Assuming we have done this during these past few months, can we presume that a new, refreshed mode of thought and creativity is taking shape within us for the summer months?

If so, what creative shape becomes us?

Summer: ‘Tis the Season of the Mind at Play?

In an article in KOSMOS, journal for global transformation, authors Jorge N. Ferrer, Marina T. Romero and Ramon V. Albareda discuss how creativity in academia is similar to our seasons.

In Summer, some flowers have matured into fruits and some of those fruits become ripe. It is the season of harvest, celebration, sharing, and gratitude. It is also a time to rest, to peacefully contemplate the new seeds contained in the fruits, and to plan another cycle for the following Autumn. In the creative process, the ‘fruits’ represent the ideas or expressions selected for further elaboration and refinement.

Summer is the season of the mind—a time for the intellectual and aesthetic elaboration of ideas. It is also time to open oneself to the many wonders, possibilities, and joys of summer, which can now expand and stimulate the mind with insights that can refine those fruitful ideas. That kinda sounds like f-u-n.

There is, however, nothing that says we can’t allow ourselves to be open to things year-round. Dialoging with others about one’s ideas in order to polish them, and putting those ideas into writing or other expressive means is a natural progression of the creative process whether or not this is done during summer. Yet, Summertime does present some unique characteristics and qualities.

 

Summer-Play

Borrowed from Felix’s Summer Email Message – thanks, Felix!

It is usually a more relaxed time during which the mind can indeed play with its surroundings and explore possibilities, if we let it.

Curiosity is a wonderful attribute of creativity, and summer’s playground lends a world of potential ideas to the curious. Take time to play and be curious (always). Let your mind reignite and stimulate your passion. We owe it to ourselves.

However, therein lies the problem. Playing. We’re forgetting how to do it and we, both children AND adults, are not doing it enough.

In his recent “Summer Email,” Felix refers to research scientist Dr. Stuart Brown, who states that a chance to beef up your intuitive skills, improve your relationships and refine your ability to solve problems are a few of the benefits of play he writes about in his book, Play: How it Sharpens the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul.  
As Felix points out, play is a certain purposelessness, spontaneity, abandon, and openness to experience-as well as relaxed movement. The more you infuse your work with these playful traits, the more creative and innovative the result.

 

Some theorists even suggest that the opposite of play is not work but depression! I can understand this point. Like millions of us, I suffer from depression, and lack of play. Summers used to be full of play and excitement: Golf and boating and water skiing. Seems life a couple of lifetimes ago!

As the seasons bring about different senses to the body – cold in winter, hot in summer – so, too, does the mind reflect these various feelings. One’s creative passion may run very differently when confronting a robust fireplace with a hot toddy compared to how one feels while sinking one’s toes in the sand at the beach on July 4th.

Both are valuable and resourceful experiences in our creative process. This is Summer Time, so take time to enjoy and let your minds play and explore. New dimensions within your own creativity lie ahead, waiting to be realized. As they are, our creative shapes evolve.

Relax. Summer’s heat may have you sweating and thirsting for coolness, but you have plenty of time before the fire will need stoking and the toddy heated.

 

 

Wanna put some fun back into advertising? Sure ya do!

Remember when advertising used to be, dare I say it, fun? We actually enjoyed working in this industry. And, I’m not even talking about our three-martini lunches!

The work. The creativity. Client interactions. Clients actually willing to work with us. I know. Sounds like it’s all from a galaxy far, far away.

Well, not quite. You’re invited to come join AAF-Houston on Wednesday, May 16, for a special appearance by a renowned creative from The Richards Group in Big D, Chris Smith.

Come be our guests and learn how to put some fun back into your advertising. Feel free to register right now!

ChrisSmithLuncheon_update HR2