How to boost your creativity

From time to time we all run out of creative steam, and artistic inspiration. Sometimes its a creative block, some times its just weariness.

So when that happens, how do you boost your creativity? Here are nine sure fire ways to do it.

1) Do something you’ve never done before.

If you’re a writer, paint something. If you’re a painter, sing something. If you’re a singer, stitch something. If you’re a stitcher… you get the idea. By doing something out of your usual routine, you open up new neural pathways, and literally expand your mind.

2) Go skateboarding.

I’m not a good skater, but I found that when I had a creative block, getting on a skateboard, or a bike come to that, and just tearing around for a few minutes, was really helpful in clearing my mind. If you’re not a natural skater – or can’t ride a bike, try getting out in the garden and enthusiastically digging for a bit, or do some press ups – anything which will absorb your mind on a physical challenge type task.

3) Take in some high quality creative nourishment.

Go and see an exhibition, go to a gig, read a really good book, watch a film, play a game, let yourself be inspired by other people’s good work, and learn from them. Steal ideas, change them, play with them, make them become your own.

4) Be really poor.

A sure fire way to become creative is to need it, badly. The more you have to be creative, the more you will make yourself become so. Witness the way people make musical instruments from junk because they can’t afford to buy them, the way writers pour out prose because they will starve if they don’t. Look at how people in very poor countries can recycle and reuse almost anything.

5) Be really rich.

The flip side to being poor, is that you are preoccupied with the stuff of life, how to make ends meet, how to feed the kids. In some ways, artistic creativity is the preserve of the idle rich, who can afford to faff about with paints and pencils because they already know food will be on the table tonight.

6) Sit down and shut up.

Taking time out helps the mind replenish its creative juices, and the act of not thinking about a problem or a project can let new inspiration and new solutions flow to the surface.

7) Go out and have a chat.

Bounce ideas off others, listen to their thoughts, explain your problems, and hear how they deal with theirs. Few ideas get worse through being exposed to the thoughts of other creative people, and sometimes they get an awful lot better.

8) Practice, practice, practice.

If you want to be good at anything, you need to keep doing it. The more you do it, the better you will be – so just keep practicing. The same is true of creative thinking, as it is of playing the piano – you need to exercise the creative muscles in your brain, build them up, and to do that you need to ‘be being’ (present continuous) creative.

9) Drink green tea.

No particular reason – but it seems to work for me.

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Comic recommendations

Garen Ewing’s Rainbow Orchid volume 1 has been out for a while, but I’m just about to buy it for my eldest daughter’s birthday.

Rainbow Orchid
Rainbow Orchid

I bought one of the original Rainbow Orchid comics from Garen at a comic con some years ago, it’s brilliant. If you like Tintin or similar stuff, this will be up your street.

For a look inside the book, and a preview of volume two, which is inked and ready, head over to Garen’s website.

My other recommendation is this nifty Conan Doyle reworking by Ian Edgington, The hound of the Baskervilles is a great tale, and it seems that its translation into Graphic Novel format has worked well.

Hound of the Baskervilles
Hound of the Baskervilles

Nice artwork by INJ Culbard, who has just finished working on Study in Scarlet, the second of four Holmes stories the pair have planned. Check out his website for some previews of the artwork, very nice indeed.

ways of looking at the world

I was alerted to this really interesting collection of pictures which show the ‘real world atlas’.

For instance, here is a map showing war deaths from 1945 – 2002: “The most deaths as a percentage of the population occured in Cambodia, followed by Timor-Leste, Angola, Rwanda, North Korea and Afghanistan.”

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Also fascinating whilst also horrific are the maps showing wealth distribution, from 1AD, 1900 AD, and a projection for 2015, just look at the projection for the whole of Africa!

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Michael Cross, bridge and beyond

Here’s quite a good article looking at my brother’s forthcoming exhibition over the US, including some video clips, which show him with a beard!  Yes, it was a surprise to me too.

Michael is best known for his Bridge installation, at Dalston grove, London, but he has done a lot of really interesting work besides that.  My favourite remains flood, his submerged lightbulbs piece, which features in this article.

He tells me that most of his work is very much like primary school, making models out of plasticine, and doing drawings and so on.  It’s just that every now and then he gets to make his models on a significantly larger scale!

excellent protest art from Greenpeace

I really like this simple but effective idea from Greenpeace.

They teamed up with sculptor Mark Jenkins to produce a series of these art works, but to be honest I feel like it’s not beyond most of us to come up with something similar – a good accessible model for protest art which could be replicated in high streets all around the country.  Anyone fancy having a go?

Introducing world music artists

I often get asked where I learn about World Music artists, and I usually point people to obscure (ish) radio programs, magazines, or the BBC world music awards cd’s.

But probably one of the most instantly accessible ways of getting exposed to some of the best world music artists about, is simply by going on to Last FM, and pressing Listen – putting in the tag ‘World’ will get you the usual suspects with some nice suprises thrown in.

Tonight I’ve had amongst others: Brian Eno; Manu Chao; Gogol Bordello; Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan; Cirque De Soleil; the Afro Celts; Ali Farka Toure… click below for pure musical pleasure.