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A collection of thoughts and ideas on making the world a more well-designed place.

Cultivating creativity in a vanilla world.

To me, being called creative is one of the highest compliments I can receive. Creativity takes intelligence, awareness and humor – three traits that are excellent qualities in their own right. But put them together, and it creates a perfect storm. Creativity isn’t a physical product: a story, a painting, a wreath. Acquiring the skill to make items takes practice. Creativity, on the other hand, takes a commitment to a certain lifestyle. Creativity is the intangible quality of being able intelligently synthesize concepts in a fresh way. But how can anyone stay fresh in a humdrum world? Here are some tips that help me out when things seem stagnant.

Be playful.
That’s the first rule.
Humor and creativity don’t flow freely from an uptight, unwilling source. Don’t be afraid to be irreverent or silly. Watch smart, funny television. Read smart, funny articles. Get inspired, and don’t be bound by the constraints of proper society. Satire will start to sneak up on you when you become aware of your current social/political climate and aren’t afraid to be sassy. So be sassy and relevant.

Embrace the inevitable failures.
You’re going to have ideas that flat out will not work. But that doesn’t mean that parts of your ideas aren’t useful or can’t be recycled for later projects. Don’t give up after just one draft of an idea, but whatever you do, don’t force bad ideas to happen. Instead, retire them and reinvent them later. Which leads me to my next point…

Keep a record.
Write it. Draw it. Record it. Whatever you do, make sure you take note of the things you’ve done and keep these notes in a central location. It helps you gain creative momentum. Once you see the great ideas you’ve come up with, it gives you the confidence to keep pushing them further. Keeping a creative journal can help you draw from past, unused ideas and watch yourself progress. It doesn’t have to be fancy or even intelligible by other people. As long as you know what your shorthand means, your notes are golden.

Try other things.
Strive to do what interests you, and then try something else. Attempting new things may shed new light on the things you’re interested in. For example: I’ve always wanted to sew. I never really learned how to do it, and I had no idea where to start. I did, however, have a few years worth of package design experience. So I let that experience guide me in making patterns. Learning how to sew and make patterns based on the experience I had in package design actually made me a better package designer. The more versatile you become, the more experience you’re able to use to leverage your creativity.

Because I’m so cultured and shit, I took this cue from Kelly Cutrone and Lauren Conrad on The Hills. Basically, LC is talking with Kelly (her boss) about how she doesn’t know what’s coming after she leaves her job at People’s Revolution. LC is completely stressed at the prospect of not having her life planned out beyond the moment she’s in. In an effort to console her, Kelly tells LC “Je voudrais flâner avec toi” which she explains (very, very loosely) to mean “To walk around aimlessly without a plan.” (It actually means something closer to I would like to meet/stroll around with you). The phrase has roots in the actions of 19th century writers, who would would leisurely loaf around Paris seemingly without purpose. However, this downtime has two purposes: you can draw inspiration from taking in the world around you, and you can let the ideas in your head marinate and mature. Take a break from your hard work and nap. Drink a cup of tea and watch a thunderstorm. Travel the world. Loaf around and be with your thoughts. Some of the most creative ideas come when you focus on yourself, or even when you focus on nothing at all.

So make an effort to cultivate a creative mind. Challenge yourself. The world needs more innovative thinkers.

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    Ali Becnel Solino

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