We all can learn from fresh perspectives.  Recently, my teenaged daughter attended a convention with her school where she competed scholastically and artistically with students from all over the country.  Wanting to stretch beyond her comfort zone, she chose to enter a scrapbook as one of her pieces.  When she was younger, I was an avid scrapper, but, my tools went unused for about five years.  It was with some trepidation I agreed to teach her.

To my surprise, picking up my tools again was not hard.  It occurred to me that part of the creative process in putting together a scrapbook is not much different than having to create the artistic design of a catalog.  My daughter had to choose a theme for her book.  We worked on stylistic elements that would unify that theme and carry it from page to page.  Most importantly, she told a story that evoked emotions over the experiences she shared.  It was with pride that I watched her accept a silver medal for her work.

This experience brought to mind some of what I learned at the 2017 directXchange by Nemoa held in March in Boston.  Sara Florin, VP of Creative at SmartPak, spoke during Xpress Talks about being creative.  Sometimes, the word “creative” can be frightening and elicit many objections.  “I don’t have time to be creative.” “I’m not good at being creative.  My ideas never work.”  “I can’t… (draw, paint, sketch, do digital design, etc.)” Ms. Florin showed an example of a sketch she used to start a creative process.  It wasn’t the quality of her primary sketch – it was the vision she saw that would emerge from that sketch.  Not having aptitude within a certain medium does not mean that creative vision is diminished.  Form the right team and creative visions become reality.

Ms. Florin spoke of five ways to work on creativity.

  • Stop saying “I’m not creative.”  “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, either way, you are correct.”  Eliminate objection and doubt to form a whole new language of possibilities.
  • Become a sponge.  Grow from those around you.  Take opportunities to connect with those who have something to teach.  Remember that small opportunities to learn arise frequently. Don’t miss them.
  • Change your perspective.  Try to see through another’s eyes.  Their energy and passion can renew your own interest and sharpen your skills.
  • Stock your toolbox.  Don’t let tools go unused to for long periods of time.  Seek to grow by learning new techniques so that whatever situation arises, there is a solution.  Don’t be afraid of asking others what skills and abilities are in their toolboxes.
  • Say “I CAN be creative.”  Take an inventory of your skill set.  What are you good at?  How can your existing skills help to bridge where you are to where you want to be?  See each challenge as an opportunity to grow.

I offer a quote from the late Steve Jobs.  “Creativity is just connecting things.  When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something.  It seemed obvious to them after a while.  That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”