Ep 34 Ten Minute Creativity – Silent Podcast with Prompt

Ten Minute Creativity Creative Prompt Echo


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Can you make just 10 minutes a day to be creative?

To follow will be 10 minutes of silence for you to create. In case you’re not feeling inspired here’s an idea. Use the word “echo” as your prompt. You can interpret it any way you like.

Draw it, write about it, use it as inspiration for a product or business. Feel free to share your creations on the Idea Medic Facebook Page. Enjoy.

Ep 33 Vonny K Painting Vibrant Colours of Australian Wildlife

Vonnie K artist australia


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This weeks guest is Yvonne Kennedy, a painter who lives South East of Brisbane, Australia. Yvonne began painting after her last child was born and says she hasn’t stopped since. She has an interesting, highly textured style that has evolved over the years as she’s gone from self-taught to finding artistic mentors. She primarily paints bright native Australian birds and flowers that she sees in her back garden and local area.

What you will learn in this episode

• Yvonne’s journey from office worker to artist
• How she finds inspiration and plans her artworks
• Yvonne’s interesting artistic style and process
• Tips for getting unstuck and staying on track
• Yvonne’s favourite creative tools and resources

Vonny K Bird parrot painting Australia

©Copyright Yvonne Kennedy

Yvonne’s journey from office worker to artist

Originally from England, Yvonne’s family moved to Australia when she was 8 years old. She never did art at school but always had a sketchbook in her hand and her mother was very encouraging of drawing, colouring and other artistic activities. After school, Yvonne went into the boring life of office work for many years, which she hated. It was after her last baby that someone gave her some paint, and she hasn’t stopped painting since.

Yvonne started painting with oil paints, and began by painting a fish and an Australian native parrot called a long-billed corella. She tried to paint in a realistic photographic way, including painting the every hair or feather. But Yvonne always knew something was missing as it used to take her up to a year to finish a painting. Five years ago she went to a demonstration at art supplies store, The Art Shed, by local artist De Gillette, who subsequently became Yvonne’s teacher. She learned how to use bright colours and to paint with more looseness and movement. This is what was missing before and what her paintings really needed.

How Yvonne finds inspiration and plans her artwork

Yvonne says inspiration is all over the place in Australia, thanks to the many bright birds and flowers. Her back garden is full of native plants, lorikeets and honeyeaters, and living by the water she also finds lots of inspiration. The lorikeets are her favourite, however being very quick creatures, Yvonne usually needs the helps of Google images to piece together ideas of how to draw them. She’ll often find an image of a flower and combine it with a number of images of lorikeets to create the plan. She tends to paint flowers or birds, and has found if she doesn’t paint something she really loves, then the paintings aren’t as good.

Having grown up always trying to colour perfectly inside the lines, Yvonne still finds she has a tendency to want to get everything very perfect. She says she has arguments inside her head with herself, but has discovered a trick to help with that. She blasts loud rock music, like AC/DC, Queen or Bon Jovi, in the art room when she’s painting so her brain can’t hear anything and it loosens her up.

Vonny K Artist Australia pond

©Copyright Yvonne Kennedy

Yvonne’s artistic style and process

Yvonne’s style incorporates loads of texture. She can never remember the proper words, so she’s made up a term for what she does to create that texture. She calls it ‘gooping’. It’s based of a mix of thick Gesso and a texture paste, which she calls ‘goop’. She says she’s hopeless with palette knives, so her teacher, De Gillett, came up with the idea of painting the texture like icing a cake. So, Yvonne now uses plastic seal bags, which she cuts the corner off and decorates the painting like a cake! She does use the palette knives in a few spots, but loves the touchy-feely nature of the icing process and loves the texture and feel of the ‘goop’ when it’s dry.

Once Yvonne has had a play with some images in Photoshop and is ready to paint, she uses acrylics (which she now prefers to oils). She puts some colour down on the canvas with Gesso, and then draws very loosely in charcoal where she thinks the bits will go. After that, it’s many layers of texture to build up the background first. It can be 5 or 6 layers just in the background, and to do the bird’s feathers as well. It’s quite a long process, which is why Yvonne often has 3 or 4 canvases going at once. While one is drying she works on another, although thankfully in Australia the generally warm climate helps the drying process.

After layer upon layer of texture, Yvonne puts down the inks and washes, which really shines over the background. After that, she paints the faces and spends a lot of time painting the details very well. Then she adds more layers of goop and ink, goop and ink. In the end, there can be 15 layers. It means the colours in the painting looks different from different angles and the process is part of what Yvonne loves about it. It’s actually De Gillette’s process, and Yvonne changes and plays around with it for herself.

Getting unstuck and staying on track

Yvonne has struggled in the past with getting stuck for ideas and lacking inspiration, however, she finds if she has a break from it, the inspiration comes. Every 10 weeks when her daughter is on school holidays, she has two weeks complete break. By the end she’s so desperate to get back into the art room that the ideas just flow. She also gets ideas from photographs, and will often remember them in the shower and then have to search for the photo to begin drawing and doodling the idea from there. In general, Yvonne finds plenty to look at in her local area, which helps too.

The hardest part for Yvonne is that she gets bored very quickly and can flit and float from one thing to the next without finishing anything. The cure for this is to have a deadline, so she enters into as many local art shows as she can. She also does do commissions, but always worries about pleasing the customers, so prefers to do paintings first and have others buy from there. Currently, she is exhibiting some of her paintings on the wall of a local bespoke jeweler shop. Yvonne is also splitting her time between caring for her Dad and painting, so it’s not full time at the moment. Some days it’s only the deadline of a show that gets her into the art room to work. However, she usually finds that once she’s in there with the music playing loudly, she can paint like crazy.

Yvonne’s favourite creative tools and inspirations

Yvonne says she used to use pencils but would get too pedantic and rub out too much, so now her favourite tool is the humble ball point pen

She also uses Photoshop, and the Wacom tablet for planning her paintings.

The two artists who inspire her are her teacher, De Gillette and fellow Brisbane artist Tracey Fletcher King.

Where you can find Yvonne

You can follow Yvonne on social media, on Instagram @vonnyk.art and Facebook.com/vonnykartist. She also sells her work online: www.buyartnow.com.au/vonnyk

Trying to Rediscover My Passion for Drawing by Hand

Years ago, when I was a kid I would rarely be found without a pencil and sketch pad in my hands. I just loved drawing. But that all changed, when I became a graphic designer. All of my work was done digitally and while I scribbled out ideas on paper I would always take them on to the computer to develop them. Even my personal work was the same.

A bit like a builder never gets round to putting in their own kitchen, drawing and creating stuff by hand had become a chore. Then a few weeks ago I did a little challenge with Sandra Busby to test if alcohol increased creativity. One of the exercises was to sketch a bottle. While my drawings were pretty pants, it was fun to do. I enjoyed the process (well I did after a few Proseccos killed my nerves) rather than worrying too much about the outcome.

Last weekend I fancied trying some more hand created drawings and I found a doodling course by one of my favourite character designers, Jon Burgerman on Skillshare (I have his poster on my office wall). I have previously done some of the more geeky Skillshare courses as my partner bought me a years subscription last Christmas. But this course was different as it was much more about having a bit of fun, than being too educational.

It’s a great little course that anyone can do. Burgerman gets you to do some simple doodling exercises without taking your pen off the paper. I only did the course up to the point where he took the designs onto the computer as that’s the thing I wanted to avoid. And while my doodles won’t win any awards it was fun.

doodle family

doodle fish

I decided to start a little project to create a quick non-precious doodle every morning. Prior to starting my doodles, I am pre-messing up the pages of my sketchbook to get rid of the scary white paper – “the blank stank” :).

Pre-messing up the paper – the blank stank

pre-messed up doodle pages

My first few days are all messed up ready. I am hoping by having a non-preciousness about the creation it can help me rekindle a love of creating and drawing by hand. I am even tempted to take some real paints on holiday later this year. It has been a long time since I have wanted to do that.

Some of my first five minute doodle sketchbook pages

doodles on messed up

How can you get the fun back into your creativity even if it’s just in 10 minutes a day?

Ep 32 Ten Minute Creativity – Silent Podcast with Prompt

Ten Minute creativity  Creative prompt Agile


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Can you make just 10 minutes a day to be creative?

To follow will be 10 minutes of silence for you to create. In case you’re not feeling inspired here’s an idea. Use the word “agile” as your prompt. You can interpret it any way you like.

Draw it, write about it, use it as inspiration for a product or business. Feel free to share your creations on the Idea Medic Facebook Page. Enjoy.

Ep 31 Ronnie Walter – Illustrator and Art Licensing Coach

Ronnie Walter Illustrator and Art Licensing Coach


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Ronnie Walter is an American artist, who lives in South West Florida, and has been an illustrator for most of her professional career. She’s been freelancing for a long time, and also enjoys helping other artists figure out their own path, both creatively and professionally. Ronnie is the illustrator of 17 adult coloring books. She is also an author of the book License to Draw, an art business coach and has several online courses for artists to help them monetize their work. She’s a firm believer in not reinventing the wheel and wants other artists to learn from her mistakes and successes in her career so they can succeed as well.

Nobodys Happy by Illustrator and Art Licensing Coach Ronnie Walter

© Copyright Ronnie Walter

 

What you will learn in this episode:

• Ronnie’s journey from jobs to freelance artist
• How Ronnie made it work juggling freelancing, licensing and a book
• Ronnie’s advice on finding clients as a freelancer
• The pros and cons of working with an agent

Ronnie’s journey from jobs to freelance artist

Ronnie says she was that obsessive kid that always had to be drawing. She just loved and still loves to draw. In high school, her art teacher was very encouraging, but by the end of college Ronnie ended up in a whole bunch of different, non-art-based jobs. In retrospect, however, that served her well because it gave her a lot of different skills, including sales and marketing, that have been useful for her subsequent art career. Her knowledge of business not only helped her get her first art job at a small stationery company, but when she left that she was poised well for freelancing. Over her 3 years there, Ronnie learned how to develop commercial products that were compelling and fun on a deadline. It was a party invitation company, and although imprintable stationery is now common on places like Etsy, it was innovative at the time. Design-wise, everything had to have a border and a white hole in the middle where the details of the invitation could be written, and it was this creative limitation that ultimately led to Ronnie moving into freelancing.

Exciting Things by Illustrator and Art Licensing Coach Ronnie Walter

© Copyright Ronnie Walter

 

How Ronnie made it work juggling freelancing, licensing and a children’s book

Ronnies plan was to license her art, and at the time licensing was just coming onto the scene for independent artists. Companies were looking for artists to supplement their product lines and offerings, so Ronnie built a portfolio around creating work she could license. It was also the time of the scrapbooking phenomenon, so she was doing stickers, borders, background papers and the like for that, which also worked in her favour. She also worked a lot with the curriculum market, doing line drawings for worksheets and early readers. It wasn’t an easy time for Ronnie as her marriage was also breaking up, but she just had to make it work.

There were several lean years. With licensing, you don’t get paid straight away unless you get an advance, but even then it’s not usually enough to live on. What helped was an advance Ronnie got for the children’s book she’d made in a class, which she sent to publishers. Not only did they want to publish it, but they wanted a second companion book, so the advance from that helped her survive. The first book, Ready to Go, was about the routines of getting up in the morning and the riveting sequel, Ready for Bed, was about night-time routines. Although the books sold well and had good reviews, the imprint was disbanded and her editor was fired and then unfortunately died. Ronnie still has the books but hasn’t done anything with them as it isn’t a high priority for her.

Portfolio Selection by Illustrator and Art Licensing Expert Ronnie Walter

© Copyright Ronnie Walter

 

Ronnie’s advice on finding clients to license to

Ronnie has some regular clients now but she’s always looking for more. She says to have a sustained career over several decades you have to stay curious and look at products with a different eye than other people. Her early sales training helped her to know how to present, follow up, present again and follow up again in 3 months. If you just keep doing that, eventually someone will like it. A big social media following can be helpful, but Ronnie says it’s usually as a tipping point rather than the main draw card. Social media numbers are not always authentic and are not a guarantee of more sales. You just have to focus on putting out compelling, authentic work that is meaningful for people so they have a reaction.

Coffee Book by Illustrator and Art Licensing Expert Ronnie Walter

© Copyright Ronnie Walter

People come to art licensing in 3 ways

People come to art licensing in 3 ways: they’re a very good generalist illustrator, they’re great at patterns and designing art for products, or they’ve got a solo point of view or an art brand that is concept-based. If you are that last one, that’s where the social media following is crucial. Knowing which of those boxes you fit into can help you maximize yourself because being able to say who you are and also who you’re not as an artist is critical in licensing.

Ronnie’s Skillshare Licensing Course

Ronnie has a class on SkillShare about working out where you could fit in as a licensing artist. It’s called How to Make Money with Art Licensing.

Ronnie’s more indepth Licensing Ladder Course

Ronnie has a more in-depth course called The Licensing Ladder – Practical Steps From Portfolio To Product. It starts on September 19 2017 (UPDATE: This class has been postponed due to Hurricane Irma, please sign up to Ronnie’s newsletter to get updates). It’s a small online class with live group calls with Ronnie. It’s aimed at artists that have a portfolio that’s close to being ready to show who want help with their next move.

Royalty rates

As for licensing royalties, Ronnie says it’s hard to be specific about what to expect as it ranges from 2% to 10%. It depends on your category, level of retail, your artwork, who you are as an artist, the market etc. It’s not only the percentage that matters, either. The volume of sales is very important too. You have to weigh up all the options for yourself.

The pros and cons of working with a licensing agent

Ronnie and her husband Jim represented artists as agents for 12 years, although they recently dissolved that business. They let it go so Ronnie could do more of her own artwork, although she still coaches artists on an hourly basis and Jim is an artist business consultant. There are pros and cons of trying to get work as an artist on your own and of working with an agent, and it’s a big decision. Ronnie says different times in your life and career might make one more suited than the other. For example, a mother with young children may not have the time or headspace to sell her own work, and therefore working with an agent is a great option, but once her kids grow up and she has more time and business acumen, it could be a different story.

The benefit of having an agent is that they have contacts with manufacturers already. However, most of them are also going to be at a 50% commission rate, so you need to be comfortable with that, and have trust and clear expectations. Ronnie advises people to try it themselves first, get some licenses on their own, and see how it feels and then decide. To find an agent, do some research and detective work just like you would with finding manufacturers. You can also rent a stand at the US licensing show Surtex, and they have a list of agents on their website.

Connect with Ronnie

Connect with Ronnie on her website www.ronniewalter.com. Here you can find out more about her book License to Draw, find the Skillshare class or sign up for the more in depth live online class The Licensing Ladder that starts on the 19th of September.

You can also get a free 20-minute coaching call to see if working with Ronnie can help your art career.

 

Using the SCAMPER Creative Thinking Technique for Product Ideas

Diesel treat toy SCAMPER Creative thinking

SCAMPER is a useful creative thinking technique to use if there is already an existing product or service that you can use as a starting point for your ideas. It’s based on the theory that nothing is really new, everything is a development of a pre existing idea or ideas.

SCAMPER stands for:

• Substitute
• Combine
• Adapt
• Modify
• Put it to another use
• Eliminate
• Reverse

Each of the words above are used to question the product or service that you use as a starting point.

So looking at the example of a dog’s treat toy as a starting point you might first try to break the treat toy down into it’s parts:

Break the Product or Service into its Parts

• the material – it’s made of – plasticdog treat toy SCAMPER creative thinking
• its shape – like a wishbone
• it has gaps/slots for the treats
• it has circular ends
• it has the ability to grip treats
• colour – purple

Work through the SCAMPER words in question form

Then looking at the toy as both a whole and also the list of parts you wrote down start asking the SCAMPER questions. For example for substitute you might have the following

Substitute

What could you substitute on the treat toy?
Could you substitute the material?
• Maybe it’s made of wood, or cloth or tennis ball material.
Could you substitute a different shape?
Is there a more interesting or fun shape than the wishbone
• a spaceship where the treats are windows
• a hedgehog where the treats are spines, a rabbit where the treats are it’s ears?
Could you substitute (change) the colour?

Go through each of the other words in the same way

Combine

What could you combine with the treat toy or part of it?

Adapt

How could you ADAPT the treat toy?
ADAPT – also means you can start thinking of how you could adapt the toy or its parts for different uses, it might no longer even be a dog toy.

Modify

How could you modify the treat toy or part of it?

Put to Another Use

How could you put the treat toy or elements of it to another use?

Reverse

How could you reverse something about the treat toy to come up with new ideas?

Each of the words can help you question an aspect of the existing treat toy. It means you no longer have to accept things that you might otherwise have taken to “have to be that way”

Give it a try.

Ep 30 Ten Minute Creativity – Silent Podcast with Prompt

10 Minute Creativity The Silent episode Creative Prompt MAGNETIC-01


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Can you make just 10 minutes a day to be creative?

To follow will be 10 minutes of silence for you to create. In case you’re not feeling inspired here’s an idea. Use the word “magnetic” as your prompt. You can interpret it any way you like.

Draw it, write about it, use it as inspiration for a product or business. Feel free to share your creations on the Idea Medic Facebook Page. Enjoy.

Ep 29 Margaret Rode Creating Websites for Good

Margaret Rode Websites for Good

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This week’s guest is Margaret Rode. Margaret started her career in advertising, but later realised it wasn’t aligning with her values. She started Websites for Good to work with small businesses, individuals, and non-profits who are trying to create something good in the world. From getting yelled at by Steve Jobs in her early 20s, Margaret now spends her time trying to find the balance between having great taste in the finer things in life and helping to improve the world in a sustainable way. She lives in the mountains west of Denver, Colorado with her husband, dog and massive vegetable garden.

What you will learn in this episode:

• The story of how Margaret went from corporate America to teaching gardening and building websites
• Margaret’s passion projects
• How Margaret works with clients
• Unusual strategies to get unstuck
• How Margaret keeps herself on track
• Her favourite creative tools and resources

Margaret’s story from corporate America to self-employed creative

Margaret began working in tech in her 20s, and one of her first jobs was in the marketing department at Apple Computer, which was the proverbial boiling frog as she was working in the same building as Steve Jobs during his angry days. After bumping around in corporate America for a couple of decades, from big organization to big organization, she finally decided to take a deep breath and go out on her own. The last job she had was for a network of advertising agencies where they did take the approach of ‘how can we get people to buy this thing that they don’t need with the money they don’t have’ and that really wore on Margaret. It was her ethics that drove her to start her business creating company websites for people doing good. It began with a website for some children’s book author friends and soon after that project she gave notice to her company and started doing her own thing fulltime. Margaret got hooked on the idea of taking her techy and marketing skills and use them for good, to further and advance good work being done in the world. That was in 1998, and she didn’t do any marketing of herself until 2008 because her whole business was based on referral and word of mouth.

Margaret’s Passion Projects

Margaret has always had a garden and liked to get dirty and grow things therapeutically. Immersing herself in the natural world is a kind of balance to the time she spends staring at a screen in her professional life. In the town where she lives it’s difficult to grow a garden because of the elevation and unpredictable weather, so Margaret began 2 community garden, where she also teaches workshops about food and food growing. It’s a forum for her to help people to get back in touch with their food, fresh air and sunshine. She also has a blog called The Green Hedonist which is about her determination to find the balance between having a luscious life—good taste in food, wine, travel and film—that is also environmentally sensitive and sustainable. Finding the place where the two lives overlap is a personal cause for Margaret.

How Margaret works with clients

When Margaret gets a new client, the process always starts with a conversation with the client about who they’re trying to reach. People think websites are about themselves, like an online brochure, but in truth the best ones are about the people who you are trying to help. The ideas all sprout from the avatar of the person they’re talking to, where they want to be and by when, and it just flows once you have that perspective. Margaret uses mood and visions boards and usually prefers doing it the old-school way on actual paper. She uses giant 1 metre sticky notes on the wall and often the clients get involved too.

Although Margaret is happy to work with people with big budgets who just want to hand over cash for a fancy website, she’s selective about the type of clients she works with. She also has a hybrid option called the 90 Minute Website, which starts with an self-paced e-course and culminates in a 90-minute session where together Margaret and the client get the website live. This is a great and very affordable option for many because often the people doing good in the world have very small budgets, and Margaret wants to work with them but also empower them to manage their website themselves over time. The beautiful thing about websites is that you can position yourself in a way so that you attract the people you want to attract and you repel the people that you don’t want to have anything to do with. It saves time and frees us up to focus on the things we really want to be doing.

A few of the websites Websites for Good has created

Journal Therapy website

 

Boston Impact Theory Website

Enso House

Strategies to get unstuck

Although Margaret does use the standard stuff like doing something completely different to jolt the mind out of stuckness, she finds the solutions vary because there are different faces of stuckness. Going for a walk and seeing a film are two common strategies that work for her, but she has a few other more unusual approaches too.

Her “1-2-3 routine” involves some kind of easy exercise like walking, then a very hot shower, followed by a medicinal does of something like caffeine, alcohol or protein. Protein is very stimulating for brain chemistry and therefore helps with creativity. In the 30-45 minute window following that 1-2-3 routine, Margaret says she has had some of the very best creative breakthroughs in her life. She will always have pens and pencils and her computer at hand to capture whatever gets jolted loose, because the effect wears off after an hour or so.

Margaret finds her stuckness if often associated with what she’s been consuming, and although everyone’s body is different she finds a lot of people don’t pay enough attention to that. If you’ve had a big, heavy meal or spent several days eating poorly, often times your brain is suffering and simply can’t do the job it normally does. Your body chemistry is an important part of setting yourself up for creativity.

For the past month Margaret has also developed a new early morning routine called Picnic Shelter Writing. She goes to seek out a new picnic shelter, brings a thermos of tea and sits with her journal or mobile phone, talking into EverNote and capturing whatever is flowing through her head at the time. It serves multiple purposes; not only is she out in nature, getting fresh air and sunshine, giving the dog a walk, but she gets some writing done and comes back to the office completely refreshed and able to have a brilliant creative. Margaret intended it to be a 30 day challenge but she is enjoying it so much so she doesn’t think she’ll stop.

How Margaret keeps herself on track

Margaret says she has an extremely cantankerous inner child, so she has had to find ways to keep herself on track and use time tools that don’t feel strangling or intimidating, otherwise the inner child will run off and play with the dog instead. She usually starts with the date she needs to have a project completed by and work backwards from there, breaking projects into bit-sized pieces.

When a creative project is difficult, our mind looks for the point of least tension and it will try to escape into something that’s not as hard, so social media is very appealing for that. It can be like drug addiction, because there’s something that your mind is suffering and wants to escape it. When feeling blocked and tormenting itself, the mind will do anything to stop feeling bad about itself because it can’t make things flow the way it wants them to flow. So Margaret uses apps like Self Control and setting bite-sized tasks to manage herself and keep herself on track.

Margaret’s favourite creative tools and resources

Evernote is her go-to app for capturing ideas. In terms of scheduling, Margaret resisted calendars and reminder systems for a long time because it reminder her too much of the treadmill she used to be on in her corporate life. She uses Google Calendar, phone apps like To-Do Reminder and Focus Booster. She also uses Self Control to limit her social media use.

Ultimately she loves pencil and paper, including the giant sticky notes, because there is something satisfying about finishing a task and being able to tick things off or scribble them out.

In terms of books, Margaret prefers the tried and true creativity folks that she explored in decades past, but these days finds that reading about creativity is actually a distraction from being creative!

Books

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger Von Oech
The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield

She was also inspired by Tom Monahan, a mentor from her corporate life

Connect with Margaret

You can find Margaret at her website www.websitesforgood.com or connect on Facebook @websitesforgood

Be More Creative By Allowing Yourself to be Bored

I recently watched a Ted talk by Manoush Zomorodi who explains that being bored can make us more creative.

Nowadays with a phone or tablet always in our hands, we often don’t allow our minds to be quiet. I guess that is where all the current interest in Mindfulness has stemmed from. Whether we are working or at leisure we switch tasks a lot, this could be to check our emails or get a “fix” of Facebook. Apparently, each time we switch tasks this takes up valuable nutrients in our brains leaving little reserve for creative thinking. Manoush talks about a project she started called “Bored and Brilliant” where she challenged users to use their phones less and delete apps for a week. Watch the Ted talk to see the results.

This Ted talk reminded me of one of Sandra Busby’s suggestions to Embrace The Silence to get more creative ideas. She talks about this in our recent podcast “Twelve Ways to Get Ideas and Inspiration

What Are Your Favourite Methods For Coming Up With Ideas?

sleep on it idea generation creative thinking

Apart from the sleep-on-it idea generation technique (yes that sometimes really works) some simple creative thinking techniques can really help get your ideas flowing. What are your favourite methods of getting ideas?

I remember the first idea generation method I learned. It was in my year of art college. I can’t remember what starting word/point we were given, but we were taught to create mind maps. These weren’t your highly structured content-organising mind maps either. We were told to allow our thoughts to flow with free association. So if I had the word boot I could associate puddle or hole rather than sticking with types or parts of a shoe.

Mind maps with associated drawings

We were also taught to add drawings or doodles to the mind maps. This would allow you to see visual associations as well as verbal ones. For instance, If I had drawn a boot with laces, those laces might look like a ladder and I could add that to the mind map too.

A page of words and pictures

After filling up a large A2 sheet of paper with words and drawings we were asked to assemble some of those unconnected items visually. This is the way we come up with many of our ideas whether we are aware of it or not. We combine elements of two or more different things to create something new. I can remember creating a drawing of a boot, but the end of the boot was a clown’s head. There were other elements too, but these have slipped from my memory.

Everyone should be taught this simple creative technique

I remember how much I loved this exercise. It was the first time that I realised that you didn’t have to just wait for ideas to magically appear in your head. You could actually go searching for them. It’s sad that it took going to art college to learn this technique, which is so simple it can be used by anyone.

This loose form of mind mapping has since become one of my first go-to creative thinking techniques when I need ideas. Since then I’ve learned more creative thinking techniques. While mind mapping is my first port of call, using randomness has become a close second. This involves taking a random word or image and working out how you can associate it with the problem or task you are working on.

Use randomness to break thinking patterns

Randomness works well when you feel like you’re stuck or coming up with predictable ideas. Randomness and mind mapping work alongside each other very well as I have shown in my post about using random words for blog post ideas. I will go into this further in a future post.

What’s your favourite method of idea generation?

Post inspired by a Facebook group meme on Creative Push

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