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Call Me Crazy: An Insider’s View On Creativity

by Allen Reed

And So It Begins…

I started my career in advertising design over 30 years ago, but my first advertising gig happened about 40 years ago (gulp!), while attending Dixieland Elementary School in Lakeland, FL. Every Halloween the school sponsored a carnival at Dobbins Park and students could enter a contest to design posters to promote it.

Winners would get to see their posters in local storefront windows. I wasn’t much into schoolwork, but if it involved anything creative—and a competition—I was all over it. My poster was one that ended up getting selected and was placed in Crowder Brother’s Hardware at Southgate Shopping Center. To a 10 year old kid, that was a big deal!

Queue the Crazy

Being in a creative field often comes with some semi-flattering remarks and questions from people like “You are so creative! How do you do it?”  “You have a cool job…it must be nice to be able to draw all day!” Or my favorite (which sounds like someone is apologizing for me): “It’s because you’re creative” but it in my head it sound like “Bless his heart!”.

But, I have to admit, I do have the best job in the world, because I get to be creative every day. I also have a really terrifying job, because I have to be creative every day. My job relies on coming up with fresh ideas for our clients and helping inspire my team to do the same. Some days ideas flow very easily and other days it feels like the well has dried up.

Connecting with Your Creative Side

The late Steve jobs said: “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.”

I can’t explain where every idea comes from but like Jobs said, it’s about connecting things. Here are 4 ways to connect to your creative side:

Places you’ve been, things you’ve done, people you’ve engaged with, failures and successes. These can all attribute to how you are inspired or how you approach a challenge. Give yourself the opportunity to have new experiences and take calculated risks. Go somewhere you haven’t been. Eat something you’ve never tried before.

Take some time to stop, look and listen. Don’t just look at the surface of things. Train yourself to observe things on a deeper level—colors, textures, shapes, patterns. Adults sometimes forget how inquisitive they were as children and don’t look at things with fresh eyes. Take photos. Take notes. Draw pictures. People watch. Just don’t be creepy about it.

Ed Catmull, President of Pixar said: “Creativity involves a large number of people from different disciplines working effectively together to solve a great many problems.”

Team up with someone you can bounce ideas off of. Creative insights can come from hearing another viewpoint or perspective. In larger groups with extroverts and introverts, it’s important to hear from everyone. Sometimes the person not so quick to speak has a lot to contribute.

Some of the best ideas come when you let your mind relax and unplug from the chaos. Men daydream most when our wives are trying to talk to us (I kid!). But I also get great ideas in the shower, taking a walk or drive, going to a museum or art gallery, or just sitting on the beach. If a solution isn’t coming, take a walk around the block to clear your head…or go jump in the shower.

Famous Last Words

Yes, some are born naturally creative, but I believe creativity can be cultivated. Imagination and innovation spark new ways of doing things and we need a creative culture in our communities and workplaces more than ever. If you’re feeling a little creatively-challenged, I hope I’ve given you a little perspective and insight that will help. Now go create something!