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Launchpad Stationery Design Competition 2017

Jan Jordyn Digital Art and Design has kindly alerted me that Launchpad has a stationery design competition. I am considering entering some of my character designs.

“The competition aims to find 6 winners to showcase at the Manchester Stationery Show, which runs on 31 October and 1 November at the Victoria Warehouse in Old Trafford, Manchester.

The Manchester Stationery Show is specialist trade show , offering a fantastic range of writing and paper products which attract the UK’s biggest retailers and most influential buyers and brands in the sector.  The show is creat ing a specific display area in the show for the LaunchPad competition winners to present their ideas to visitors.

The competition will be judged by three leading names from the stationery sector in early September.  Their task will be to find 6 products or services they think are of true interest to the stationery industry and their huge number of stationery loving consumers.

The closing date for entries is: 8 September 2017

Before you enter, please read the entry requirements below.

The LaunchPad competition is open to any company which, or individual who:

  • Has not appeared in the Manchester or London Stationery Show previously
  • Has the rights to sell the featured products/service
  • Does not currently sell the featured product/service through any UK national retail accounts or distributors in the stationery retail sector

You can enter here

launchpad stationery competition


Free Design Thinking Quick Course from Stanford

I watched this free 90 minute design thinking crash course from Stanford last night. It’s designed to be a taster, to show you the way they teach at the D School

I didn’t do the exercise as my partner wouldn’t have appreciated stopping watching Game of Thrones to be my guinea pig. It was really fascinating to watch their method of working. It was very similar to the methodology used in the Lean Canvas on the Start-up Weekends I’ve been to. You start off with something you think may be a problem and then try to find out from potential customers what their experiences are. One thing that really stood out for me was that they suggested you come up with possible solutions with scribbles drawings. This allows for possible misinterpretation and can allow for further ideas within a team.

There are more resources on the Stanford D School site.

found via Today’s Comics

Ep 24 Ten Minute Creativity – Silent Podcast with Prompt

Ten Minute Creativity Silent podcast Electric

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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 “Electric” 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 23 Youngman Brown Inspiring You to Be Creative

Youngman Brown You Creative Push

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My guest today is Youngman Brown, a writer, podcaster, and professional poker dealer. Youngman is the host of the Your Creative Push podcast and creator of the Words Plus Music music video project. Having struggled quite a lot with his own creative resistance and blocks, Youngman now interviews others about their creative processes and facilitates a Facebook group where people can support each other through creative struggles. In this episode, he shares his creative journey as well as his own tips for idea generation and organization.

Here’s what you will learn in this episode:

• Youngman’s creative journey up until now
• His creative projects, including the Your Creative Push Podcast
• Why Youngman advocates paying your creative self-first
• Tips for idea generation and organization
• Youngman’s favourite creative tools and resources

Youngman’s creative journey up until now

Youngman graduated college as a Computer Science Major, but for various reasons couldn’t get a job in that area. So he became a professional poker player instead, and these days his full-time job is as a professional poker dealer. He did enjoy writing though, and took English as a minor in college. In his Senior year, his professors told him that he had some talent in writing, which gave him the creative spark he needed to pursue it in his own time. These days he has a blog and a number of other creative projects too, including a podcast about creativity.

Youngman says his writing is quite cynical and reflective, even self-critical. He likes observing the little moments in life and trying to bring them to life. The podcast has kind of overtaken Youngman’s creative energy so writing took a back seat for a while, but he has recently been getting back into the writing on the blog, as well as doing videos. He believes you need a creative outlet to live so it’s something he is working hard at making a bigger part of his life.

Creative Projects: Words plus Music and Your Creative Push Podcast

When he’s not writing about his life, Youngman likes to write fiction, and he often uses music as a muse. It was from this habit that he decided to create his Words Plus Music video project. He creates music videos that are comprised of literally just words that try to go along with the beat of the music and express the emotion of the song. The latest one he did was for a Hans Zimmer song, Time from the movie Inception, and it sat on his computer 90% complete for over a year before he finished it. It was only the prospect of meeting the composer at a behind the scenes event that gave Youngman the impetus to finish the video. In fact, it took him close to 2 years to make the first video in the project, because of the self-doubting voice in this head. It was wanting to help others avoid being stuck in such a long period of incubation for their ideas that inspired Youngman to start the podcast.

Your Creative Push is a podcast that helps people through their creative process, and in particular, it’s for people who have full-time jobs that are not in a creative field. Youngman aims to make it encouraging and he likes to talk to people from all fields at every point in their creative careers. It includes a lot of different tips and tricks for getting past creative blocks and resistance, and is basically a platform for people to share their creative struggles with one another. There’s an associated Facebook group for the same purpose, too.

When Youngman was experiencing that creative fear about his other projects, he was looking for something for himself and couldn’t find it, so he knew that he had to do it himself. Instead of having a laboured process of waiting 2 years like he did with Words Plus Music, Youngman just took action on the podcast very quickly. The original first episode was fine at the time, but he has recently redone it because he now has much more experience and confidence with the medium.

The most inspiring thing he’s learned from it is that everybody struggles with the same thing, and they don’t really go away but you can get better to deal with them. Realizing that everybody is kind of in the same boat is great. Youngman would like the podcast to reach more people and also expand the possibilities of it, such as through solo episodes or short YouTube videos. Recently he’s also started reaching out to sponsors, so that perhaps in the future this can become his career.

Why Youngman advocates that you pay your creative self-first

Youngman has been trying to figure out the balance between his job and life and various creative pursuits. The podcast allows him to find out how others find that balance, because it’s something he feels he does poorly currently. In trying to get better at saving money for the future, he’s been listening to financial gurus like Warren Buffet who advocate the Pay Yourself First approach. Youngman realized this idea applies to creative people too: invest your time in your side projects and creative projects first, before you get to all the other things on your to-do list.

Parkinson’s Law states that the work expands to fit the time allowed for it. So if you do your creative projects first, you’ll still have time for all those other parts of life. But if you leave the passion projects until after you’ve done everything else, there won’t be any time left. So Youngman’s advice is to start your projects today and make time for them as a priority.

Tips and tricks for idea generation and organization

Youngman has two main ways he gets ideas. Firstly, he finds ideas in silence, which is something most people don’t get any more. That’s the reason people often get their best ideas in the shower or right before bed—it’s the only silent time in their day! The other way is by intentionally finding inspiration in something else, like a song or a video or a book. His advice to others stuck for ideas is to find a way to create more silence in life, and ideas will come more readily.

In terms of keeping track of ideas, Youngman carries a notebook as much as possible, and also uses the voice memo function on his phone. He says, ‘You have to be on call for when those ideas come to you.” If you write them down then, later on, you will have a database to look back on. He doesn’t really have a system but he also uses Microsoft Word and various folders to organize different idea and projects at different stages.

Youngman finds he does have the problem of spinning too many plates at once. The best way for him to get things done is to find accountability by telling somebody (other than his wife) about the idea. Often this person is a creative friend or his audience.

Youngman’s favourite tools and resources

For his own creative work, he most often uses a notebook, his phone and Microsoft Word. He also uses Audacity for the podcast and Adobe After Effects for Words Plus Music.

His number one book recommendation is The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield, which he highly recommends it to any creative person.

Youngman also loves YouTube because you can find so much free stuff on there if you’re trying to learn something.

Every guest on the podcast inspires him, but the Chris Riddell, Ron Pope, Martha Beck, Thomas Dodd, Sandra Busby have been particularly impactful.

Where to find Youngman

The best place to find Youngman is at or you can check out his blog at or the Words Plus Music Project at

Join the group at

And if you’ve got a particular thing you’re stuck on creatively, Youngman would love to give you a recommendation for which podcast episodes might be able to help. Send him an email at via his contact form

My Spoof Idea for a New Range of Bottled Water For Dogs

drooleys woofwater

I thought of this silly idea a little while ago – a range of bottled water for dogs. Then put together a spoof advert as a bit of fun. Can you imagine the flavours you could have.

Drooleys Woofwater in 3 classic dog flavours

  • Eau de Dirty Puddle
  • Eau de Toilet Bowl
  • Eau de Stagnant Plant Pot

I was quite surprised when a few people on Facebook said that I should pitch it to pet companies.

So if anyone is interested in making it as a novelty product, please let me know 🙂 .

What do you think of this for a new product idea for dogs?


Product Idea Challenge Aug 9th 2017

I am not as far on with coming up with product ideas as I would have liked. I seem to have let other projects and the podcast take up too much of my attention.

I have started mind mapping out possible areas to work on. I’ve done this as a very structured mind map rather than the freeflowing ones which are better for ideas. To mind map areas I have been going through an online pet shop and looking at the categories.

As I look I’m noticing things that bug me as a dog owner. I’m also spotting items which seem a little boring, as though their design has not been explored for a long time. I intend to continue this exercise and then start honing in on a few of the categories.

mind map dog products

Killing Your Idea With Kindness

mind map coffee

The other day I was interviewed by Youngman Brown for a future “Your Creative Push” Podcast. To say I was nervous was an understatement, I didn’t sleep much that night as the podcast was at 7 am. I was saying to Youngman that when you are brainstorming you want to come up with a lot of ideas rather than settle on your first ones. He then asked me how you know when to stop generating ideas for a project. I have been thinking about it ever since and still don’t completely know the answer.

When do you stop brainstorming?

Working on a project for someone else

So if it’s a project for someone else it’s relatively simple. For example, if I was asked to come up with some logo ideas, I would quote the job and know roughly the time I had allocated myself to have the first options ready to present. Let’s assume this initial stage is one day. I know I need at minimum of half a day to work the ideas up on the computer. So I would probably spend an hour or doing a bit of research and seeing what else is out there and collecting some inspiration. This leaves me with roughly two hours to brainstorm/mind map and sketch out some ideas. With that time constraint in place, I can only explore ideas for a certain amount before I have to start working the ideas up. Of course, even at computer stage, the ideas will change.

Ideas for your own projects

If you are working on a project for yourself – how exactly do you know how to stop? You want to generate a lot of ideas, but no so many your enthusiasm has dwindled. If you are doing a daily project – such as writing or creating a drawing every day, it’s fairly simple as you don’t have time to explore or be too precious. But when the project is open-ended it’s more difficult, unless you impose your own deadline.

Killing an idea with kindness

I remember years ago when was at art college, I had one of those happy accidents. When I opened a magazine there was an image of a tribal man with war paint. On the rear of the page, there was an image of a river. As I turned the page I could see the image of the river looking like it was running through the man. I was really inspired and desperately wanted to paint the image of the river man. But the fine art tutor said I should explore ideas around the theme first instead. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but went along with it and went through the motion of experimenting.

After a week or so, he saw that I was getting nowhere and not enjoying what I was doing. So he said ok, well go ahead and paint your initial river man. But by that point, I had no enthusiasm anymore. I had given my idea too much time and over thought it. I had killed it with kindness. Those experiments had sucked the life out of my painting idea and when I tried to paint it, it looked awful.

Sometimes you have to go with your gut

I still think that we should explore our options when we are brainstorming ideas. But sometimes if you really feel compelled to do something then you should just go with your gut.

Episode 22. Ten Minute Creativity – Silence with Idea Prompt

10 Minute Creativity The Silent episode Arrival

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10 minute creativity

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 “memory” as your inspiration and interpret it any way you like. You could draw, take a photo, write about it use it to inspire a business idea.

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 “arrival” as your inspiration and interpret it any way you like. You could draw, take a photo, write about it use it to inspire a business idea.

Feel free to share your creations on the Idea Medic Facebook Page or Group.


Ep 21 Rhian Wyn Harrison, A Mixed Media Artist Rediscovered Her Love of Drawing

Rhian Wyn Harrison Mixed Media Artist Podcast

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Today’s podcast features Rhian Wyn Harrison, a mixed-media artist from South Devon. In the last 3 years, Rhian has rediscovered her passion for drawing and painting. She loves to produce mixed-media illustrations, repurposing old books and maps as both backgrounds and inspiration. She also has greeting cards and was recently featured in a tourism film about her local area. In this episode, Rhian shares how she creates her unique mixed-media style and her process for keeping track of ideas and getting unstuck.

What you will learn in this episode

• The story of how Rhian rediscovered her love of drawing
• How she creates her unique mixed-media style
• Where Rhian has found some commercial success
• How to keep track of ideas and find inspiration
• What to do with too many ideas, or when you get stuck
• Rhian’s favourite creative tools and resources

Rhian’s story

Rhian trained as a graphic designer and typographer and worked in that industry for 15 years before taking a career break to raise her children. She then worked in a school as an art technician for a long time. However, when she turned 50, she started thinking about what she would do with her life if she only had a year to live. Her own mother had only lived to 51, so something about nearing that age made her focus. She read ‘Screw Work, Let’s Play’ by John Williams and did a 30-Day Challenge to see whether she could still draw, as she’d loved it as a child.

During the 30-Day Challenge, Rhian began putting some of her drawings online, which gave her the confidence to experiment. She then found a website called Illustration Friday, where various artists post their responses to a prompt word each week, and found that really helped her get her passion for drawing back. She began drawing anything around the house using a variety of media, from sketching to watercolour to pastels. It was the very last illustration for her 30-Day Challenge, when she tore out a page of a book, that Rhian discovered her collage-style mixed-media that she just loves to create so much. It’s been 3 years and she says it’s not like work, it’s fun and can’t ever see herself retiring.

goldfis mixed media painting Rhian Wyn Harrison

©copyright Rhian Wyn Harrison

Rhian’s unique mixed-media style

Rhian uses vintage books and maps as the inspiration and the background for all of her illustrations. She loves the beautiful old paper, and enjoys the fact that she’s giving it new life. The books and map have to be very old for copyright reasons; for books it’s 70 years after the author has died, for a map, it’s 50 years after it was printed. The oldest thing Rhian has worked on was a 132-year old Times newspaper.

Because the paper is so old, it can be fragile, so Rhian has them dry mounted onto a board at a local framers. This makes it much easier to draw and paint on. She mostly uses Inktense pencils with water because of the vibrant colour they create.

With the dictionary pages, Rhian will paint something that links to a work in an obtuse sort of a way. With maps, she usually paints animals related to the area. Rhian also does commissioned works when people want something particular. She likes doing commissioned works because there’s a certainty about the sale, but they can be a challenge when people want particular things. Obviously, she likes doing her own ideas as well.

Her favourite subjects are birds. They have personality and they’re both challenging and enjoyable to draw because of all their feathers and colours. She takes her own photographic reference where she can, and she goes out with the camera most days. Rhian usually sketches the shape of the animals before starting on the old paper, to figure out the shape and to see if it balances correctly on the page. She’ll also use tracing paper to help with the layout. Because the old paper is old and fragile, you can’t rub out once you’ve drawn on it, so you only have one chance. Rhian finds that both an exciting and scary challenge. Her advice is that if there’s something you really want to do, just have a go. What have you got to lose?

crab mixed media art Rhian Wyn Harrison

©copyright Rhian Wyn Harrison

Rhian’s early commercial success

Rhian started selling her artworks almost immediately. She met a lady at a gallery, who liked her work and almost as soon as she had them in the gallery they were selling. She had a solo exhibition last year, was accepted for the South West Academy Open Exhibition last September, and was selected for a show in Dartmouth this year where her pieces are all selling well. She also has an exhibition next month in Dartmouth called ‘Fish, Ships and Quays’ to do with sea birds, Dartmouth and the Regatta. Recently, Rhian also hosted a film crew in her home who featured her for a film promoting Torbay Tourism and the Seafood Coast.

For one of the exhibitions last year, Rhian was asked to do greeting cards. She researched and found a company in Cornwall that prints beautiful cards, and they sold out during the exhibition. In fact, they made as much money as the paintings! Now Rhian does them quite regularly with different designs. She sells them on her website along with prints of her works, which are more affordable for many people. At the moment she can only do A4 and A5 ones due to the size restriction of her scanner. She does the prints herself at home using a special printer with pigment ink on archive paper.

Keeping track of ideas and finding inspiration

Writing everything down is Rhian’s preferred method of keeping track of ideas. She uses a bullet journal for her lists and ticks them off as she goes everything is in one place. She says she doesn’t really get stuck for ideas because she can just open a page in the dictionary, pick a word and try to think of an obtuse thing related to it to paint. Sometimes the process works the other way, where she’ll start with the animal she wants to paint and then pick a word that links somehow.

Rhian’s advice for finding inspiration is to go outside and walk in nature. She recommends getting fresh air, taking deep breaths and getting away from the desk. Trust that if you take a break, your brain will do it for you. Don’t try too hard, just let it come. When you stop thinking about it, your subconscious chugs away and does the work.

whale art Rhian Wyn Harrison

©copyright Rhian Wyn Harrison

Too many ideas and getting stuck

Rhian does find working with the old books and maps helps prevent artists block. There isn’t the same intimidation of staring at a blank canvas, because her page already has stuff all over it! One strategy Rhian does use when she gets stuck is to post a ‘work in progress’ shot on Facebook. This helps her to complete it because it creates a little bit of accountability and a sense that she’ll let people down if she doesn’t finish it. Plus, it’s fun and people enjoy seeing the work in progress. It’s a different way of working. She also uses a proper old sand-filled hourglass to help focus, but also to remind her to have a break and stretch. It’s important to keep track of time, otherwise, Rhian will find she keeps going and doesn’t move at all for 3 hours.

Rhian doesn’t feel like she suffers from the problem of having too many ideas and not being able to stick to one. She always has a list of her ideas and sometimes does have more than one artwork on the go. However, more often than not she just looks at the list and picks whichever idea she fancies the most and that’s the one she’ll do next. With every single artwork, Rhian says she gets to a point where she thinks it’s rubbish, but she knows if she keeps going it will come right. It always does.

puffin art painting Rhian Wyn Harrison

©copyright Rhian Wyn Harrison

Favourite creative tools, books, people and courses

Rhian’s favourite tools are the old books and maps she uses to create her artworks. She just loves the old paper.

She also uses Inktense Pencils made by Derwent because of the vibrant colours they create.

Her recommended books include Screw Work, Let’s Play by John Williams, The Creative License by Danny Gregory and Tiny Pantone Objects by Inka Matthew

She also recommends the website Illustration Friday that has been such a big part of her journey

Connect with Rhian

Rhian has a website and various social media channels.


Twitter @rhianindevon