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.


Vaude win award

The outdoor sports company Vaude has just been honoured for their commitment to social and environmental responsibility.

To be honest, I have been quite impressed by the commitment shown by a number of outdoor sports companies, to social and environmental responsibility. Patagonia are an obvious ‘name’ which has pushed the environmental agenda, Rohan are another big company which is making serious strides in that area too, and there are a number of others which can also claim to have pretty decent environmental cred.

But I am particularly impressed by Vaude, a German company whose reputation for social and environmental responsibility throughout their design and production is pretty much impeccable.

As I say, they have just scooped another award or two, this time at the ISPO, an industry trade show in Munich. They won an overall award for their company wide social/eco activism in regards to their production, and a product award for the Vaude Blue One tent – which is a two man tent I think, I’ve yet to see one. All I really know is that it’s made of a poly cotton, which is 65% organic cotton and 35% recycled polyester (PET1).

They are a pretty impressive company, the sort of people who remind you that there is really no excuse for other companies of a similar nature not to be walking the same path. Among other things they say about themselves:

“VAUDE is mindful in its dealings with people and the environment. Due to our constant inner reflection and unwavering idealism, we are quick and courageous to seek out contact with contemporary subjects and explore our own potential – leading to stories worthwhile in their making.”

Sport equipment and clothing is high specification stuff, the good stuff lasts a long time we still have a Vaude rucsac that has been going strong for some time, a veteran of a number of overland expeds and other voyages – other cheaper rucsacs have not fared so well. If you are buying new, which I accept with this kind of clothing or equipment is often the most effective way (ahem – unless you go on ebay – ahem) – then buying from the most responsible producer you can is important. Check out the maker before you buy, and dont let yourself be glitzed by the fashionable looks of a particular jacket or piece of kit, that look will be old in a year or two’s time, while the item itself should have many years of life in it.

So well done Vaude, I’m genuinely impressed. I have asked for more info about the Blue One tent, and if and when I get it, I shall share it.

An interesting delivery

A couple of weeks ago somebody contacted me from a well known clothing company, he had read my blog post about why I dont buy new clothes.

Clearly this chap and his company, which make fairly high end outdoor wear, has a different perspective on new clothing and its value. So to cut a longer story short, he offered to send me – free of charge – some pieces of their clothing so that I could assess for myself whether I thought that the quality they offer is worth buying new, and spending quite a few quid on. It certainly says something for their self belief that they are willing to open themselves up to scrutiny in this way – they obviously think their clobber is worth buying, I remain to be convinced.

So over the next months and perhaps years, I’ll be posting my own ongoing reviews on these pieces of clothing (trousers, shirt,  & jacket), giving my assessment of their design and general quality. This isnt just going to be cheap publicity for the company in question either,  where I have reservations or questions about the clothing in question I will voice them – the only deal I have made in that regard is that if and when I have negative points to make about the clothing I will let them know first in case its something which they can put right.

Given the punishment I usually give clothing, this should be interesting.  A follow on post, revealing the name of the company in question and initial thoughts about the clothes will follow in the next few days.

More low-tech madness

At the risk of provoking a similar kind of outburst as the post about humanure (poo) I am yet again inspired to link you – dear reader to the ineffable Low-Tech magazine, who this time have provided a lengthy treatment of the ‘Velomobile’.

There’s a velomobile user local to me, who rockets along the main road every day in his supercool recumbent. What worries me about him is that he is not very visible. As someone who has been hit by a car while riding a large, brightly coloured mountain bike, I am concerned that drivers are less likely to see the velomobile, and that they are at ‘crushing’ level – rather than bonnet ‘bashing’ level. In otherwords I’m concerned the car would actually go right over the velomobile, rather than sending the rider over the bonnet – the former seems to me to be a nastier way to go.

But that said, I’m very impressed by the energy saving stats, apparently it uses three to four times less energy- nice! Cruising speed of 25mph doesnt sound massively faster than my cruising speed, but I guess the issue is how long it can be sustained for.

On the other hand, one of the things I love about bikes is the ability to dodge traffic, to get round slow cars, to blast away at junctions and so on, I feel this would be less possible in a velomobile.

But if you are looking for a replacement to the car for a daily commute (I only have to commute to the spare room) then this looks like a good option.

Worth a read anyway, especially if you’re interested in bikes – my real burning question is not really answered: can you do stunts in them? Answers on a postcard please.


I just received some promo images for our new comic book, ZEKE, from smokin’ hot comic book artist Steve Beckett. The comic is moving along very nicely, and if all goes to plan we’ll be launching it in October with with a month long exhibition, featuring some special life size artwork, along with other smaller scale stuff.

Anyhow, this is just a quick post to give you an insight into what we’ve been up to…

(c) Undercurrent Comics, 2010.

Maddy Harland’s permaculture garden on TV

I spotted on Emma Cooper’s blog that Maddy Harland’s permaculture garden is going to be featured on TV soon, seeing as I’m in something of a ‘lets recommend things on iplayer’ mood, I strongly suspect this will be worth watching.

Maddy is the editor of Permaculture Magazine, which is kind of required reading really, good stuff. I should have an article in the next issue, looking at monastic history and its relationship to sustainable land use.

Maddy also blogs a great place to go if you have any interest in permaculture.

Her garden is a mature forest garden and from what I’ve seen and read before its a great example of permaculture in a real setting.

So anyway, the programme is part of gardening guru Alys Fowler’s series, which glories in the name of The Edible Garden, it’s going out on BBC2 at 8.00 pm on Wednesday 7th April 2010. If you have a TV, you could watch it there and then, if you’re like me, then you can catch it on iplayer afterwards.

Warmly recommended.

feeding my growing obsession

I have a serious danger of developing a unhealthy obsession with permaculture, which for the uninitiated is more or less a way of gardening/farming which works in harmony with the environment, working in partnership with nature rather than attempting to overpower her.

It isnt helped when I come across things in unexpected places, like this video I found when visiting the Earth Abbey site, as part of some research.

You’ve got to watch this, it’s a few minutes you wont get back, but heck, get a cup of tea or something, you’ll enjoy it I’m certain.  If nothing else, the guy’s amazing hair is well worth watching. Actually, his name is Mike Feingold, and apparently he is a legend in the field of permaculture, which I can believe to be true.

As well as the enjoyment, there is the real opportunity to learn something, here’s a guy actually growing according to permaculture principles, with minimum amount of work, and a joyously anarchic looking, but productive plot.  Get your perennials going…