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Freelance design and the persuit of maybe

June 17, 2011

Working as a freelance designer is a bungee jump into indifference over an endless sea of successful competition. The pendulum swing from positive to negative responses we reluctantly accept as a daily ritual.

‘Yes’ or ‘No are definitive they give direction, determine where to focus your efforts or leave well alone. Yet ‘maybe’ offers a window of opportunity. Maybe stimulates creativity, enlivens interest and excites the mind. Often the drive to differentiate ourselves can polarize opinion. So ‘maybe’ is the response of an open mind, willing us to convince them.

Maybe is hope.

Maybe today is the day you get that call you’ve been waiting for. Maybe your tireless efforts will be rewarded. Maybe, that dream you’ve been working on, that dream that’s faded with all the knock backs, will shift back into focus. Maybe your website stats will peak, the letter will arrive, the email will drop in your inbox.

Maybe is filled with potential, maybe could be the chance of a lifetime. Maybe the complex will become clear, the usual struggle will relax, that standard you aspired to, that seemed out of reach will move a little closer to your grasp. Then maybe you’ll produce that piece of work that you knew you had inside.

Maybe they’ll listen to your ideas, ask your opinion and pay your price.

Maybe today.

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When I’m not writing about creativity

June 3, 2011

Writing about creativity, thinking about creativity and reading the thoughts of others are all good exercises to question the process and discover new approaches.

Actually creating things though, that’s where the real work gets done and where I’m happiest. Here’s a few images of the kind of things I create in between writing, thinking and reading, there’s loads more here at my recently refurbished website. I suppose while I’m on the subtle trumpet blowing, I should mention that you can like my facebook page here or follow me on twitter here. Let me know if you hang out in those places and I’ll check you out too. Just add your username or page address to the comments below.

100 ways to be creative

April 15, 2011

There are an infinite number of ways to encourage and sustain creativity but only one of them really matters.

As a writer of a creativity blog I’ve felt that nagging urge to write ‘list posts’, dishing out bite-size chunks of wisdom, simplifying creative practice to a stepped process. But the simple matter is, there is one way to be creative and that is to create. There is much advice regarding general healthy behaviour, positive thinking and good practice much of which has already been regurgitated here. But it really just avoids the act.

If you want to be a writer – write, every day every moment you can spare, and when your not writing read what others have written, then write some more. Artists too, need to draw, with brush or pencil, knife or chisel, pixel or pen, every single day.

You can spend many a waking hour pouring over 100 or more ways to be creative but there is one simple truth. Whilst you are wondering how to be creative you are not creating.

In response to an aspiring artists request for advice HR Giger wrote at the end of a very long and detailed response “Stop aspiring and start doing”.

Creativity and writing smaller lists

April 13, 2011

If you consider yourself creative, you probably have a list.

It’s that, “one day I’ll…” list and it will probably contain things like, write a novel, paint a canvas, sell some art or music, design a house, build it myself… In order to do any one of those things well, you need an awesome amount of focus, a painful amount of hard work and a great deal of time. So there lies the catch, what to begin, where to focus? You worry, if you focus your efforts in one direction all of those other worthy outlets for your creative passion will be calling.

Here’s a thought, write a smaller list. Just a creative handful, things that move you, things you can picture completed. Understand that you can and will achieve all of these things and more. In fact achieving one completely will make the others far easier. Pick a big thing and give yourself a year. You can write a novel in a year, produce a fine set of canvases, you can certainly sell some art or music. You could quite possibly, architect or not, design a house and build it yourself.

Write the list then begin one thing, today.

Creative links & smart thinking

April 3, 2011

A collection of links to short talks on Ted featuring some very smart speakers –  really interesting ideas around being creative, staying creative and why.

Elizabeth Gilbert – On Nurturing Creativity
“Aren’t you afraid you are going to work your whole life at this craft and nothings ever going to come of it and your gonna die on a scrap head of broken dreams with your mouth filled with the bitter ash of failure”

Ken Robinson – Schools Kill Creativity
“Many highly talented brilliant creative people, think they’re not, because the thing they were good at at school wasn’t valued or was stigmatised”

Stefan Sagmeister – The Power of Time Off
“I thought it might be helpful to cut off five of those retirement years and intersperse them in between those working years”

Seth Godin – On Sliced Bread
“For the first 15 years after sliced bread was available no-one bought it, no-one knew about it, it was a complete and total failure”

Paula Scher – Gets Serious
“Serious design… often happens spontaneously, intuitively, accidentally or incidentally, it can be achieved out of innocence or arrogance or selfishness sometimes out of carelessness. But mostly .. out of those parts of human behaviour that don’t really make any sense”

You can never run out of ideas

March 23, 2011

Hey there struggling creative, don’t worry, you can never run out of ideas.

You can run out of time. You can run out of money. You can run out of the room when the going gets tough. You can run out of daylight or disk space or power. Energy, electricity or steam.

You can run out of paper or scissors or stones. You can run out people or products. You can run out of space. You can build it and when no-one turns up you can run out of the door screaming….

You can run out of conviction, run yourself down, you can run to the ends of the earth and back again and still not find a solution. Your enthusiasm can wane and your patience can be tested. Hope lost, optimism a distant memory. You can run out of faith.

But you can never run out of ideas. You can scale the mountain, solve the conundrum, build the bridge, and master any metaphor you use to visualise your creative challenge.

So pick up the pencil and defy the yawning empty white page. You can hide from the task, but you can never run out of ideas.

Blog like no-one is watching

March 21, 2011

I understand that businesses want an online voice but their efforts are often misguided. If blogging is a chore or a checklist task, then it shows. Reluctant blogging just adds to the abundance of regurgitated and unnecessary non-information.

Blog because you have something personal to add, an opinion that deserves an audience, or a burning desire to locate some like-minded, same-wavelength readers to open up debate.

Ideas burn a hole in my head, it’s that urge that compels me to create, to write and to share. I have always shared my creative output, before blogging, it was short stories, collections of poems, awkward illustrations, and mix-tapes with elaborately personalised sleeve notes. The medium and the audience have changed but the urge to create remains.

Like most bloggers I started out with a specific readership in mind, yet I am intrigued, fascinated and humbled by the diversity of the audience that have chosen to gather. Creativity, it seems, is not exclusive.

I am honoured by those who take time to comment and offer kind words of inspiration and I endeavor to hold their interest. Yet I continue to blog like no-one is watching, like I’m making a mix-tape for a friend.

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