Creative Tidbits and Other Advice

 

The other day when I was putting some luggage back up into the closet, I came across a small notebook with a few items written in it. Must have been some of my notes from a long-ago seminar I attended somewhere. These statements are in no particular order and only one is attributable to someone. Take them for what they’re worth. Who knows, they may be able to help enhance your creativity.

Wasting time is usually resistance to writing

Be violent and original in your work, but be orderly in your normal life

Get quiet — be still and apply yourself

Creativity: Sudden cessation of stupidity

Most good ideas come fully formed

Celebrate small victories

“No” is a complete sentence

We have no art. We do everything as well as possible.

“Everything is art direction.” — Lee Clow

How to suck less: It’s not about concepts; it’s about execution (how we work)

Enemies: Laziness and Arrogance

“Effort and struggle to create simplicity and grace lives on in the soul.”

 

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog,Joe’s Journey, for personal insights on life and its detours.

 

 

A Dozen Tips to Enhance Your Creativity

• Creativity needs to be synonymous with “FUN!”

• Idea Tub – can be a physical place or thing and/or an electronic file. It’s a compilation of all ideas
ever submitted since you started keeping track, but organized as to be readily accessible.

An elaborate Idea Tub

• Don’t let the execution bury the idea. Your message will be diluted and possibly even confusing if
the creative is too cute, too complex or just plain dumb. Think napkin, not computer.

• Realize your own sense of creativity by challenging your imagination and stimulate thoughts to lead
yourself to a new level of solution.

• The idea, for best results, should be media and discipline neutral. Otherwise, you limit yourself.

• Focus on how you’re going to make the idea work and be relevant. But, never fall in love with it.

• Don’t ever underestimate the power of the mind or your imagination. Don’t ever be afraid to ask,
“Why, Why not or What if . . .?”.

• Ye Olde Creativity Survival Kit — Any sort of container in which you place whatever makes you
FEEL creative and THINK creatively. In this industry, silly is sometimes serious business.

• Thinking at Warp Speed – Generating ideas at breakneck speed is a great way to capture ideas on
Post-it Notes (one per note) in answering a specific question to solve a problem. Remember Giant
Post-its for your “idea wall” which can foster brainstorming and open-door policy idea addition.

• Drill Down Technique – Discovering THE idea. In this unusual method choose your five best ideas
and ELIMINATE THEM, choose five more and ELIMINATE THEM. The last idea Post-it may or
may not be the best, but it’s one to which you normally would not have paid much attention. Go play.

• As ideas are developed, make sure their essence is refined. Make sure your ideas are clear and
you can explain their basic value in about 20 seconds. If you can’t explain it to an 8-year old so they’ll understand it, you need to refine your idea more.

• Don’t manage creativity; manage for creativity. Provide an environment that is open and receptive
to new ideas, and that builds failure into the process. Acknowledge error or failure in a constructive
and supportive way.

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for personal insights on life and its detours.

Creativity and Risk Taking

Being creative requires taking some risks. Sometimes it’s the risks that hold us back from moving forward and being creative. Learn about two types of risks, what it really means to step out of your comfort zone, and how to test assumptions you might have about your fears.

How do you think you’d do getting out of your comfort zone? As a test, try my Creativity Tip below. First, think of a question that is a problem needing to be solved. Then, tackle tip #23. As an added challenge, try coming up with 100 ideas (one or two words or short phrases) in 10 minutes.

Creativity Tip #23: Warp Speed Thinking – Come up with as many one or two-word ideas as you can in 5 minutes.

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for personal insights on life and its detours.

de Bono on Creativity

As you may know, Edward de Bono recently passed away. What he leaves with him is a vast treasure trove of creative insights and reminders of how and what we might do to strengthen and enhance our own creativity. Here are some select quotes from him provided by the World Creativity Innovation Week/Day and Prady, whom we thank for letting us further promote the creative thoughts of Dr. de Bono.

More de Bono quotes:

A memory is what is left when something happens and does not completely unhappen.

Most executives, many scientists, and almost all business school graduates believe that if you analyze data, this will give you new ideas. Unfortunately, this belief is totally wrong. The mind can only see what it is prepared to see.

Creativity is a great motivator because it makes people interested in what they are doing. Creativity gives hope that there can be a worthwhile idea. Creativity gives the possibility of some sort of achievement to everyone. Creativity makes life more fun and more interesting.

Creative thinking is not a talent, it is a skill that can be learnt. It empowers people by adding strength to their natural abilities which improves teamwork, productivity and where appropriate profits.

The need to be right all the time is the biggest bar to new ideas.

Bonus Quotes:

Humor is by far the most significant activity of the human brain.

It has always surprised me how little attention philosophers have paid to humor, since it is a more significant process of mind than reason. Reason can only sort out perceptions, but the humor process is involved in changing them.

Hopefully making a ruckus, one blog post at a time!

Be sure to check out my other blog, Joe’s Journey, for personal insights on life and its detours.

Don’t Look Now, Our Creativity is Leaking

Portions of this post are based on excerpts from the book by Michael Easter, The Comfort Crisis. We spend an awful lot of time consuming digital media, lest we get easily bored. A recent study looked at what happens to a bored mind without easy access to media?

The Canadian neuroscientist James Danckert recruited some volunteers and put them into a neuroimaging scanner, and induced them into a mood of being bored They had them watch two guys hanging laundry for eight minutes. You could say they were bored out of their gords!

While bored, a part of their brains called the “default mode network” fired on. It’s a network of brain regions that activates when we’re unfocused, when our mind is off and wandering. Mind wandering is a rest state that restores and rebuilds the resources needed to work better and more efficiently when we’re focused on the outside world.

Mind wandering is also a key driver of creativity, which is why other studies have found that bored people score significantly higher on creativity tests. Research dating back to the 1950s may explain why we’re now facing a “creativity crisis.”

If I didn’t already know this was a 1950’s Classroom, I would have guessed it. Has that look and feel – BTW, where are the little girls?

Ellis Paul Torrance was an American psychologist. In the 1950s he noticed something off target about American classrooms. Teachers tended to prefer the subdued, book-smart kids. They didn’t much care for the kids who had tons of energy and big ideas. Kids who’d think up odd interpretations of readings, inventive excuses for why they didn’t do their homework, and morph into mad scientists every lab day.

The system deemed these kids “bad.” But Torrance felt they were misunderstood. Because if a problem comes up in the real world, all the book-smart kids look for an answer in … a book. But what if the answer isn’t in a book? Then a person needs to get creative.

He thus devoted his life to studying creativity and its uses for good. In 1958 he developed the “Torrance Test.” It’s since become the gold standard for gauging creativity. The TTCT (Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking) assess how creatively a child’s mind works and are often given to children to determine advanced placement or as part of an entrance examination. Instead of traditionally taught subjects such as reading or math, these tests assess creativity. Children are scored on a number of aspects, including:

  • Creative titles for pictures
  • Expressions
  • Imagery
  • and Humor

He had a large group of children in the Minnesota public school system take the exam. It includes exercises like showing a kid a toy and asking her, “how would you improve this toy to make it more fun?”

Torrance analyzed all the kids’ scores. He then tracked every accomplishment the kids earned across their lives, until he died in 2003, when his colleagues took on the job. If one of the kids wrote a book, he’d mark it; if a kid founded a business, he’d mark it; if a kid submitted a patent, he’d mark it. Every achievement was logged. What he found raises big questions about how we judge intelligence.

The kids who came up with more, better ideas in the initial tests were the ones who became the most accomplished adults. They were successful inventors and architects, CEOs and college presidents, authors and diplomats, etc.

Torrance testing, in fact, bests IQ testing so much so that a recent study of Torrance’s Kids found that creativity was a threefold better predictor of much of the students’ accomplishment compared to their IQ scores.

Now, according to Easter, we’ve killed off one of the main drivers of creativity: mind wandering. The result? A researcher at the University of William and Mary analyzed 300,000 Torrance Test scores since the 50s. She found that creativity scores began to nosedive in 1990.

She concluded that we’re now facing a “creativity crisis.” The scientist blames our hurried, over-scheduled lives and “ever increasing amounts of time interacting with electronic entertainment devices.”

And that’s bad news. Particularly when we consider that creativity is a critical skill in today’s economy, where most of us work with our brains rather than brawn.

Despite what productivity gurus will have us believe, the key to improving creativity might be to occasionally do nothing at all. Or, at least, not dive into a screen. We’ll think distinctly, in a way that delivers more original ideas.

Yet, ironically, society’s tech giants still deliver more advanced software to supposedly aid us in our creativity, while holding us increasingly captive. A proper balance has yet to be realized. And may not ever.

While it may sound silly, occasionally doing nothing works. At least for me, it does. Of course, my body may not be doing anything but my mind is usually traveling at warp speed. It’s usually during these times that I let my mental forces do what they’ll do. More times than not, they produce . . . an idea . . . several ideas . . . a partial script . . . something to which I can apply time-in-the-future to develop.

Boredom is just one evolutionary discomfort we’ve lost from our lives. Easter’s book, The Comfort Crisis, investigates nine others, covering what happens to our bodies, minds, and sense of self without them—and the benefits we can reap by reintroducing these evolutionary discomforts into our lives.

Friday Fun Quotes: Advertising & Others

Continuing a series of various illustrious quotes, here are some worth-remembering “sayings” which I find interesting and inspiring. Hopefully, you will, too.

Some quotes are from the American Advertising Federation newsletter “Smart Brief,” while others come from various sources. Enjoy!!

Not everything that can be counted counts; and not everything that counts can be counted. – George Gallup

Innovation demands that you take risks, make mistakes, and fail.            – Keynote speaker Dr. Tony Wagner at #SASInstitute2018

My definition, then, of the creative process is that it is the emergence in action of a novel relational product, growing out of the uniqueness of the individual on the one hand, and the materials, events, people, or circumstances of his life on the other.Carl R. Rogers

I found that after meditating I would go down to my desk in my studio and sit there to write. And nothing would come. Everything was so peaceful, so harmonious; I was blissed out. And I had to realize through harsh experience that the secret of being a writer is to go to your desk with your mind full of chaos, full of formlessness—formlessness of the night before, formlessness which threatens you, changes you.Rollo May (making an identical observation about his creative process. He was also a visual artist and worked full-time as a writer before becoming a psychologist.)

We were created to be creative, and every day is a battle to turn that into more joy than frustration. – Lee Clow

Now that I have your attention, here are 94 characters making you regret that you gave it. Just like most advertising today. – Lee Clow

The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new. – Socrates

Second hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack.  Virginia Woolf

The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.  Isaac Asimov

It is difficult to produce a television documentary that is both incisive and probing when every twelve minutes one is interrupted by twelve dancing rabbits singing about toilet paper.  Rod Serling

 

Friday Fun Quotes: Advertising and Otherwise

Continuing a series of various illustrious quotes, here are some worth-remembering “sayings” which I find interesting and inspiring. Hopefully, you will, too.

Some quotes are from the American Advertising Federation newsletter “Smart Brief,” while others come from various sources. Enjoy!!

quote

Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom… is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.   Anthony Bourdain, 1956-2018

There is no way for the American economic system to function without advertising. – John O’Toole

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe is as good as dead; his eyes are closed. – Albert Einstein

Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation. In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power to that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never shared. – J. K. Rowling

I’ve always felt advertising was a major instrument of the free enterprise system. Effective advertising can not only have a truly powerful impact on clients’ fortunes but for their stockholders and employees as well and therein a great ripple effect on our economy. Liener Temerlin

To succeed, planning alone is insufficient. One must improvise as well. – Isaac Asimov

I have a theory that the best ads come from personal experience. Some of the good ones I have done have really come out of the real experience of my life, and somehow this has come over as true and valid and persuasive. – David Ogilvy

Be honest, truthful, and altruistic. If you concern yourself with taking care of others, there’ll be no room for lies, bullying and cheating. If you’re truthful you can live transparently, which will enable you to establish trust, the basis for making friends. – Dalai Lama 

There is no material with which human beings work which has so much potential energy as words. – Earnest Elmo Calkins

Inspiration can strike at anytime, anywhere. But usually not at 1 a.m. in the office. – Lee Clow via Lee Clow’s Beard tweet

So, whatchathink? Gotta favorite? Lemme know.

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.

Seth and Secrets (to good ideas)

I’m a follower of Seth’s Blog. You may be, too. If not, you ought to be.

That’s Seth, as in Seth Godin. He’s a very prolific writer and blogger and best-selling author.

Recently, I read a post he submitted about ideas. I’ve posted it below for reference.

Two simple secrets to good ideas

Secret #1 is the biggest one: More bad ideas. The more bad ideas the better. If you work really hard on coming up with bad ideas, sooner or later, some good ideas are going to slip through. This is much easier than the opposite approach.

Secret #2 is more important: Generosity. It’s much easier and more effective to come up with good ideas for someone else. Much easier to bring a posture of insight and care on behalf of someone else. It lets you off the hook, too.

My take.

Relative to Secret #1, seems that most brainstorming sessions tend to shut down people who come up with any idea that someone else finds stupid, offensive or one sounding similar to something presumably already tried. That. Is. Dumb. That’s the worst thing anyone could do: Stifle someone else’s thought and idea.

There is a process for generating ideas, all kinds of ideas. There’s also a process for weeding out the so-called good ones. And these processes are not one and the same.

A bad idea is just a good idea awaiting an appropriate execution. Or is it? Is there an appropriate execution for any “bad” idea? Oh, by the way, what makes the idea “bad” in the first place?

Before you can generate a list of ideas, good or bad, you should first agree on a specific question to be answered or addressed. Once that’s done, it’s much easier to devise a list of ideas generated in a short period of time, say five minutes, and then “edit” them later.

I’d suggest giving everyone in the session a stack of sticky notes and instruct the folks to write down a word or two on each sticky that attempts to answer the question. People are being forced to think quickly and not compose sentences, just thoughts. The sticky notes can later be easily organized to further benefit the brainstorm.

Oh, and don’t forget the trash can! You have to collect all the so-called “bad” ideas for disposal later. (Hint: Don’t actually dispose of them right away, but for this one exercise, they no longer exist, which will freak out some people.)

It’s interesting to do this same exercise but go back to review and edit the ideas that were discarded in the first exercise. You’re now attacking the same question with answers or ideas that are derived from an opposite perspective.

One could call this generosity that Seth refers to in Secret #2. Rather than assuming that all ideas previously discarded are no good, a generous mindset is to review them, discuss and edit down to only one that could be plausible.

Who’s to say which idea is good or bad. They’re different. True, one may be more applicable than the other but you won’t know that until further due diligence is done.

The Boundaries of the Imagination

Are there any?

That’s what a recent weekend conference at The Jung Center on Montrose in the Museum District here in Houston explored. What did we come up with? Jury’s still out.

The Boundaries of the Imagination

I’ve been to only a couple of seminars at The Jung Center over the years and, coincidentally, both had to do with imagination as it relates to imagery and creativity.

Both were also moderated by my friend, Felix Scardino, author of The Pebble and the Canyon.

Now, I’m not a therapist nor do I have that type of background, although I have spent years in the advertising and creative industry so, I suppose, there are some who would say I’ve been in therapy all these years!

This special summer conference, The Boundaries of the Imagination, intrigued me.

When I reviewed the list of speakers for this weekend conference, I’ll admit to not knowing any of them. Yet, I anticipated the experience, the topics. I also assumed I would be in the minority; I am not a therapist or a psychologist. I’m just a curious creative.

Friday night began with a lecture from Jeffrey Kripal, PhD, past chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Rice University. His lecture, “When the Imagined Is Not Imaginary,” seemed to center on the evolutionary goal of imagination. Quite extraordinary.

Though it was a very thoughtful discussion, it really got down into the “imaginary weeds” for this listener. When Jeffrey mentioned the term “imaginal,” he went on to define it according to one Mr. Frederick Myers as “imagination on spiritual steroids.”

According to Frederick Myers, imaginal is defined as “imagination on spiritual steroids.”

HELLO!  Spiritual steroids? I’m not sure what the hell that means but it grabbed my attention.

Saturday morning’s session, “The Street of Heaven Was as Glass,” was a conversation between Jay Wehnert (right, below) of Intuitive Eye, his arts organization founded in 2011, and Vanzant Driver (left, below), a Houston-based artist whose work  is included in The Menil Collection.

IMG_1048

This conversation was a highlight for me personally just to listen and observe. One of the observations from Vanzant really touched my spirit – “Inspiration is the medicine for the soul and creativity.”

DAMN!

“I can’t wait to inspire somebody,” Vanzant said. “This should be what gets you up everyday.”

Inspiration is the medicine for the soul and creativity – Vanzant Driver

Since different attendees would no doubt mention other things that got their attention, I won’t attempt to cover everything from that weekend. My thoughts and impressions are my own. So are my dreams and my imagination.

IMG_1052

There will also be other blog posts, I’m sure.

As a photog-hobbyist, I couldn’t help but capture one of my conference colleagues chatting with Vanzant about her artwork in abstract visualization (I think that’s what she called it). Her paintings are hanging in back of her and Vanzant.

According to Vanzant, the philosopher, “the most powerful things in the universe are things you can’t see.”

We sometimes forget this. Hmmm, let me rephrase that . . . we rarely remember this!

 

Before we wound up our weekend conference, I participated in one last exercise. I played in the sand. Well, I had my own sand trap, er, tray. I even got to select as many toys, er, symbols, as I could carry.

But before that, I closed my eyes and “became one with the sand.” I moved my hands around the sand and just had fun, like the little kid inside me did many years ago, both on Lake Charles (LA) and Galveston beaches.

IMG_1060

“Playing in the Imagination” was what we did under the watchful eyes of Michele Lees, a depth psychotherapist in private practice in Houston with emphasis and training in Jungian psychology. And, evidently, one helluva sand castle builder!

Each one of the objects in my sand tray above represented something to me; some of them really did “call out to me” to be chosen, just as Michelle advised they would.

In case you can’t quite make it out, that is indeed a sleigh sitting within the branches of the Christmas tree . . . on a beach next to a treasure chest near a beached boat. The symbolism I was feeling that Sunday morning was both of fond memories and sadness (note the half buried Eiffel Tower near the voodoo doll), and, well, use your imagination to figure out the rest.

The entire weekend was like nothing I had experienced before. Not being a therapist, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Being of the creative bent, I anticipated exploring my imagination in ways I had not, uh, imagined before.

Presenters to 2016 Summer Conference at Jung Center

Each one of the “speakers, therapists, authors, experts” were enlightening and, dare I say, imaginative. If you get the chance to hear one of these folks speak or present, go for it.

Have we been underestimating the power and reach of the imagination? Perhaps.

It is my firm belief that creativity is entrenched in our imagination. In fact, my favorite definition of imagination is “intelligence having fun.”

Yet, is imagination a location, an experience, a physical phenomenon? What is, as the brochure talking about this conference asks, its hidden power in a culture that tends to understand imagination as the opposite of reality?

Are there boundaries of imagination? If so, how many and are they truly discernible? What are the possibilities in exploring them and what do we risk?

What if we come to understand that imagination is reality?

What then?

Then, my friends, we come to grips with our emotions and, when we’re ready, if we truly are, we take another trek into the vast landscape of our own imagination to explore.

But be cautious. Rational thought may be cast aside; symbolism may take over. Creativity may be awakened. A new masterpiece may be unfolding right before your eyes.

Capture it, and enjoy . . . before it goes poof!

 

Editors Note: Those of you wanting to see Jay & Vanzant’s conversation can view it on YouTube.