Recently I heard an NPR story covering the new headquarter buildings of Google & Apple. What struck me about both of these incredible buildings is how each of these companies thoughtfully went about creating an environment that would foster creativity. From the materials to the layout, each building was designed in an effort to create a space that fostered creativity. And both buildings are pretty inspiring places of employment [hey Google/Apple… #callme].
Creativity is essential to the web design field that I am aspiring to become a part of. But as the tasks multiply in my preparation, I have found my own creativity to be somewhat elusive. It doesn’t like having to show up so regularly. Apparently it’s not just my abs that need a workout… I’ve got to add some pushups for my creativity as well. So, for the past few days I have been cataloguing when I have had past eureka moments… you know, when you are like “Whoa! Did I just come up with that idea? I L-O-V-E it!” It’s not that I think there is some kind of formula that I can use to produce there ‘aha’ moments… but I do think that in my experience the best creative moments have been the result of a some common ingredients that mixed together, incubated, and after some stewing – voila! The coveted Creativity made it’s appearance.
So what’s the recipe for my ‘creativity’? Here’s what I’ve identified so far:
1. A healthy dose of research. Essential. No matter what the project, I have always found doing a little (or a lot) homework goes a long way. Whenever we bought our first house, I had the goal of flipping it. It was a rat hole when we started (and I do mean that literally). Rooms were claustrophobic. Layout was horrible. There was wallpaper on the ceiling in the kitchen. ON THE CEILING! Now the closest I had ever come to doing a remodel was watching HGTV. I had no technical skills and had never redesigned an entire home. I did a ton of research, not just on the technical skills but also on what was trending in kitchens/baths/etc. The result was awesome. I researched the hell out of kitchen/home design and looked for big picture ideas that I could translate into my own projects. I looked up opposing viewpoints to broaden my own horizons. All that went into my mental stew and I reaped some great rewards. This is definitely a practice worth keeping.
2. Draw. Draw. Draw. Really and truly there is something different about engaging my brain with a pencil in my hand. I can feel my blood pressure go down. In fact, I cannot remember a time when I was drawing and felt anxious… I just get a peaceful, super focused kind of vibe. Feeling the pigment rubbing onto actual paper does something to me that nothing on a computer screen comes close to. Even if what I am drawing ends up being crap, it’s really the process itself that alters me. It’s like yoga for my creative axons. Besides, after one drawing is complete I turn the page and start again. And again. And… well, you get the idea.
3. Intro Mother Nature. I find that most eureka moments for me have involved some time in the sun. It’s amazingly calming and rejuvenating sitting under a tree. I love trees. My dream home has gigantic trees that touch the sky. Inside the living room.
4. Gotta Unplug. When I focus too much on a problem it’s like that feeling you get when you look at something like this for too long. You can get no where fast doing that. So go for a break, eat a taco, watch an episode of Parks And Rec, whatever. Giving my brain some space tends to unknot something inside. Things start to flow in a good a way.
5. Music. Every time. And, if possible, a little dancing. Seriously. Rocking out right now as I am typing this up.
6. Feedback. This really helps to zero in and refocus on the target. Sometimes I get too tangled up in all the research, deadlines, expectations… I can get lost in the trees and don’t see the forrest. Even with this post I showed my first draft to the best editor I know: my wife. Realized that half of what I had written was just rubbish and my new direction was sharper & more encouraged. Thanks wifey.
Now that I have these identified, I am going to create an infographic poster to hang in my cloffice. And from there? I hope to bring many more creatively inspired posts to the reading pleasure of the internets.