Have you ever tried using cut up magazines as creative inspiration for art or design?
Cut up magazines for inspiration
I have been experimenting with cutting up magazines to create character designs and their backgrounds.
For this one, I used a main image of a security camera from a gadget magazine and then a mixture of other magazine images to create the background.
Take a photo of the compiled images
I compiled them together and took a photo.
Trace and colour up the image
This was used as my tracing image and I drew out the outline of a scuba turtle type creature. I used Procreate on the iPad Pro and coloured it up taking inspiration for the background colour and shapes from the magazine images.
Why don’t you give it a try and share your experiments
I saw someone had posted this on Facebook and it looked like a cool idea, It’s paint which conducts electricity. So instead of wires, you can paint interesting designs and then connect them up to circuit boards and lights etc.
The late 90s/2000 we were obsessed by negative. 20 negative to 1 positive psychology article was written. An imbalance was there so we need to look at the good side of people and psychology.
Rediscover joy in creativity. Where does the motivation come from 2 categories Either you are intrinsically motivated do it because you love it or extrinsically motivated reward, fame etc. If we are extrinsically motivated we start to devalue our creativity. Extrinsical rewards can eat away the initial love of the thing. What was our initial motivation? Ask yourself when you get in a state of flow, those give you an insight into your motivation.
The Disney Creativity method, 3 ingredients for creative success non-judgemental pouring out ideas, critical editing phase, reality phase the polishing. When we get blocked is when we mix up those things. A study in the US which divided an art class. One side was graded on producing as much content as possible the other side was graded on producing the best piece of art they could. The side producing the most art produced the better work.
Creativity is non-linear. Sometimes the works pours out of you and sometimes nothing works. Just show up and make something good enough (first Disney phase), then polish it later.
Interesting talk about leaving work and looking fresh another time. This is something I like to do. The psychologist suggests that when we so this we should come back and look without criticism, but more for the seeds of the idea from which we can grow.
3 phases of creativity in a career. Trying to find our voice or style (can be derivative) and we’re learning, the second phase the productive phase, it’s the Bethovanthird phase which is the experimental phase.
The courage of imperfection. A sense that something is never finished. Dilemma knowing when it’s good enough.
Need to be realistic that we are not all the one in a million creativBeethoven. We have to realise that for most of us it’s hard work and pain.
Sometimes we don’t allow long enough for the gestation period of our ideas. If you have a blocked moment, think where to go, what to read or watch etc to get you inspired. Some artists are also more creative at different times of the year.
Small creative steps build up. Do something small every day that builds your creative muscle.
In a set of interviews with creatives, a study found most people had a place they felt most comfortable to create.
My guest today is Bonnie Grotjahn, a psychotherapist and recent improv theatre convert, who has had a very varied career. Originally from the US, Bonnie lived in Russia for 7 years before coming to the UK 17 years ago and is now based in Stroud in Gloucestershire. In this episode, she shares her recent exploration into long-form improv theatre and how she is planning on extending that and combining it with her interesting life history into a one-woman show. Bonnie also shares her tips for finding inspiration and dealing with the problem of having too many ideas.
What you will learn in this episode:
- Bonnie’s story
- What creative projects Bonnie is currently working on
- A bit more about her one-woman show
- Bonnie’s tips for finding inspiration
- How to keep track of ideas and deal with too many ideas
- Suggested creative tools and approaches
Bonnie has a degree in Russian and East European studies, which led her on an adventure in the 90s to Russia where she taught English. She also worked for a small Quaker project around social justice. Then, when she came to the UK and while she was studying to be a psychotherapist, she got work as a project worker for The Children’s Society in South London. She also became a Caretaker for a Quaker Meetinghouse part-time while seeing a few psychotherapy clients.
Bonnie says she feels like her life is a creative project. She has often combined different bits and pieces of work. Having been through some big changes in her personal life in the past couple of years, she’s recently been striking out in new directions. ‘Life is here now, not to be wasted. “What do I want to do?” is the question that’s been coming up a lot for her lately. Professionally, Bonnie has a small private practice as a therapist and also runs group coaching for self-employed people. Creatively, she has several projects on the go.
Current Creative Projects
Last autumn, Bonnie did a public speaking course about sharing a personal story in public in a connected way. She did this with a group of 5 women, all challenging and supporting each other. It culminated in a public event at a small performance space in Stroud. They blew themselves away (and the man that ran the course) so much that they have since done 2 more shows with the wider community, teaching them ways of connecting and getting into their bodies rather than panicking when on stage, which is easy to do. The group is now called A Story Party, which is similar to the events started by Beverley Glick in London.
Bonnie had too many ideas for what to share in the speaking course and felt really overwhelmed at times, but also had the idea of doing a one-woman show. From this idea and at the encouragement of some friends, she began doing long-form improv theatre workshops. She decided that if she was going to do a one-woman show, she needed to be ‘adding to her plot’. This has been another exercise in pushing her comfort zone, but it’s a nice group where they are all encouraged to support each other. The idea behind improv is to start with a tiny bit of an idea, listen to what’s happening or what’s inside of you, say yes and commit. So it’s about engaging and being in the moment. Some attempts go better than others, just like in life.
The One-Woman Show
Bonnie isn’t quite sure yet what journey the One Woman Show is going to take her on. She has just started learning the ukulele because that will be some part of it, along with the improv and story sharing. It will likely be about her life story being an American, living in Russia and then the UK. Bonnie feels she is opening herself up to the universe in a larger way than she has before and some bizarre things have come out of it. Serendipitously, another one-woman show about living in Russia in the 90s came to Stroud and she met a Russian woman on a bus in Stroud who has invited her to stay in her flat in St. Petersburg, Russia (where she once lived). Originally she thought she wanted to do the show this year but has decided to enjoy the process so now it will be next year.
Tips for finding inspiration
Bonnie feels that when she’s lacking inspiration it’s often because she’s trying too hard or putting herself under pressure. So she likes to take the pressure off, go out for a walk or cycle, or meet a friend for a drink, and that helps spark inspiration. The long-form improv has also helped with inspiration because it is about practicing starting with anything and building on it until you come up with something. She also finds ideas grow from talking to people, especially creative people, and from things like looking at photos from life in Russia that she hasn’t seen in years.
Cycling is a big source of inspiration for Bonnie. She takes photos more often when going cycling alone, as the dynamic is different when going with a group. She enjoys looking at shapes and colours in the landscape, and signs and maps about the journey also give her ideas.
Keeping track of ideas and dealing with too many ideas
Bonnie uses notebooks of various sorts, as well as the voice memo function on her phone, which is particularly helpful for recording ideas when cycling. The one-woman show has its own dedicated notebook/scrap book as well as a box of inspirational and relevant photographs.
Having too many ideas is a problem Bonnie has. She finds one thing that helps is accountability and deadlines. When she is doing a course, like the story-telling course, every week they had opportunity for accountability and feedback. Putting on a show is also a form of accountability and a deadline that gets things done, but even internally set deadlines work for Bonnie. She also likes talking to a sympathetic and understanding friend, somebody who will be honest about her ideas, but not make the decision for her.
Suggested creative tools and approaches
Bonnie uses her phone a lot for photos and voice memos. She also likes notebooks and has an A3 sized sketchbook that she loves.
One suggestion from Bonnie is to do courses and activities to take yourself out of your comfort zone. It’s important to put something out into the world, see what happens and build on it. She says this makes life more fun and also helps her work against decades of perfectionism.
Connect with Bonnie
Just a quick post to show a character based on a photo of a battery charger taken by Lyndsey Young
5 Random Objects for Idea Generation
Continuing my series of Idea Generation Experiments using 5 random objects I decided to create a repeating pattern. Patterns are not usually something I create, which is good as it gets me out of my comfort zone.
Trace of shapes ideas from photo
Using a photo of some of the objects on my ipad I traced off some of the shapes in Procreate.
Duplicate shapes and create pattern
Next, I duplicated and rearranged these shapes to create a pattern which I then repeated.
The final repeated pattern design
After colouring the pattern white, I then dropped in a watercolour effect which I created using Adobe Sketch
Why don’t you give it a try?
The problem with ideas is that they don’t appear exactly when you want them. There are many different creative techniques you can use to help you have ideas on demand. One of them is to create your own creative prompts. These are words, phrases or questions that can get your brain thinking in new directions.
Example: If you’re an artist make creative art prompts
Imagine for a second that you are an artist having a creative block. Just turn to a creative prompt you made when you were in a more inspired mood. It could spark some ideas. Perhaps the prompt could be something like “create your own art tools”. This would mean you would have to explore the mark making capabilities of different objects. This could be things like twigs, string, bottle caps, bits of cardboard etc. In the past, I painted with an old store plastic discount card.
Use lists or creative cards
You can either keep your prompts as a word list or create your own cards. I prefer the card idea. It means you can just randomly pick one rather than skimming over a list and having to make a decision. Decisions are not your friend when you are stuck.
My creative logo prompts
Here’s an example of some logo design prompts I created. I wanted something that I could use quickly when I had exhausted my usual creative methods.
On the top, there is a main prompt
i.e. What if you used a continuous line?
Below that there are sub prompts
These continue the theme but add more detail.
- What if you created an icon without taking your pen off the paper?
- What if you created typography that was continuous?
- What if you created one or more letters with a continuous line?
- What if there was more than one continuous line?
If you would like a copy of the logo design prompt cards, please get in touch via the contact form and I’ll send you the pdf.
Make your own creative prompt cards
I have created some blank cards that you can use to create your own prompt cards. You can download them here no sign up required.
Brain Boosters for Business Advantage – A Creative Thinking Techniques Book
Brain Boosters for Business Advantage by Arthur B Vangundy is the book I was looking for. It’s a book full of creative thinking techniques. It also provides a technique index which groups them by their possible uses. So, for example, it lists all the techniques you could try for creating new product ideas, and another group for advertising/marketing problems.
Brain Boosters was published more than 20 years ago, so I had to buy it second hand on Amazon. I hadn’t come across it before as it doesn’t appear in a search for creative thinking. I guess because it’s so old.
The book starts with an introduction to creative thinking
- emphasis on how important it is to separate your creative thinking from evaluation
- testing your assumptions – ie. make sure you questions everything
- Staying positive
- not getting stuck in patterns of thinking
Types of Creative Thinking Techniques
The book then goes on to discuss the types of creative thinking techniques. The author lists his favourite creative thinking techniques for both individuals and groups, before moving onto the techniques index I mentioned before.
101 Creative Thinking Techniques Book
3/4 of the book is dedicated to the creative thinking techniques themselves. Each consists of an explanation of the technique followed by an example of it in use. There are 101 creative thinking techniques listed in total
For example: Idea Shopping
The photo below shows one of the techniques called Idea Shopping.
This technique involves you going out shopping and browsing around. As you browse start to think how you can apply some of the products or processes to your problem. In the author’s example –
Suppose you are trying to reduce employee theft at the company
You walk down an aisle and see flashlights
Idea: Install airport x-ray machines at all company exits
How to Use the Book
I’ll use book as a resource to dip into to try out new creative techniques when my old favourites aren’t giving me the results I want. I might try out one or two of the techniques for my idea generation experiment. I’ll share how it goes. If you want a book of creative thinking techniques to dabble with when you need inspiration grab yourself a copy of Brainboosters for Business Advantage.
There is a creative thinking technique that suggests you think like a child. In the video below Melissa Hughes talks about how and why this works. In particular, she mentions an experiment that was carried out on two groups of University Students. One group is told, you are seven years old and school is canceled, what would you do? The other group is just told that school is canceled what would you do? Both groups were then tasked with writing their responses. Subsequently, the two groups are given adult creative tasks. Surprisingly, the creativity of the group who were previously asked to think like a child was carried over into the adult tasks.
Melissa explains the science behind how our brain develops. As we become more inhibited and worried what people think our creativity diminishes.
I also love the project she talks about where an artist takes children’s monster drawings amazing works of art at the monster engine.
Richard Pettitt on How Children’s Art Can Improve Your Art
“Unlike a lot of adult artists, most child artists want to show you their work. They bring it to you. They give it to you. They don’t hide it away or get precious about their art like adults do. Children gift their art to other people, and then make more art.
Child artists are prolific and experimental. Compared to most adult artists, they make more art and do it quicker. Their marks are often bolder and more spontaneous. And the materials they enjoy using seem to be more diverse and a lot messier; they paint, smear, cut, stick, and mix things up.”