June 11, 2012

I've been a spending a lot of time lately mulling over creativity and what it means to be creative. Much of this thinking was driven by an awesome new book called Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer. 


Lehrer examines the science of creativity and where our creative ideas come from, how we confront mental blocks, and how we discover and share new insights and breakthroughs. As an artist, new ideas can sometimes come quickly and I find myself trying to capture on paper what's happening in my head as fast as I can. At other times, I can feel very "un-creative," as if there's a roadblock preventing the free flow of ideas. Fortunately, as of late, I've had a lot of new ideas for both products and designs popping into my head. After spending so much time on the business-side of things in preparation for the National Stationery Show, it's been a welcome change to devote more time to drawing, doodling, brainstorming, researching, etc. My favorite quote in the book comes from graphic designer Milton Glaser (known for coming up with the iconic "I Heart NY" campaign). Glaser says:

"There's no such thing as a creative type. As if creative people can just show up and make stuff. As if it were that easy. I think people need to be reminded that creativity is a verb, a very time-consuming verb. It's about taking an idea in your head, and transforming that idea into something real. And that's always going to be a long and difficult process. If you're doing it right, it's going to feel like work." 

After finishing Lehrer's book, I stumbled across two items on the web related to creativity. First, The Design Trust's article on boosting your creative thinking gives brief but important tips for getting creative as well as ideas for creatively thinking about you run your business. Then, I saw this short motion graphic video from the 99% Conference comprised of short quotes from well-known thought leaders about the importance of hard work, goal setting, and overcoming obstacles. All three of these pieces have really inspired me to think more about the creative process in general and my own process in particular.

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