Find your creative muse

If you ever walk by a man sketching something in his notebook, chances are he will be drawing – or his sketchbook will include many drawings of – a woman.

Nothing surprising there. For thousands and thousands of years the male gender has found inspiration in the natural beauty of women. Just look at ancient greek statues, the majority of which are shaped like women.

Try to think of a single great artist – Picasso, Van Gogh, or even Dalí – and you are sure to find a woman (or women) behind a great number of their artworks.

In order to truly be creative you need to find motivation and a source of inspiration, or a muse. While your muse doesn’t have to be a woman, or even a person at all, having something that you can continuously look to for inspiration can be a powerful creativity tool.

Finding a muse isn’t hard if you don’t have one already. Simply walking down a crowded street or sitting in a cafe or visiting a museum is enough. When you become overwhelm with any type of emotion while observing an individual or object, you know you have found your muse.

Who, or what, is your creative muse?



Don't always believe your eyes

Beau Lotto understands the difference between what we really see and what’s an illusion. But do you?

According to Lotto, the visual world we see around is isn’t entirely reality. In–fact: you are only able to make sense of the world you see, these words you’re reading right now, because your mind has been trained to recognize the shapes and colors and hues in a convenient way.

What you’re looking at right now may not entirely be reality, but for functionality – and your sanity – your mind has accepted the reality you see.

Let me try to be a bit more clear with an example. Read the following statement out loud:

Wht   ae   you   reaing?

If you read that last line as –What are you reading?– then congratulations: you are normal. But more than that: why did you assume that the statement was what you thought it was? It’s because your mind has been trained, for convenience, to place the letter “d” between the a and i of the last word. Nothing said there had to be a letter there, however.

When we look at the world around us we are overwhelmed by empty sentences, shapes that can be seen from literally millions of different perspectives, colors that can be misleading (based on their surroundings and anything between us and the colors.

As a creative thinker you must accept the fact that what you see is not certain.

As a challenge for this week: try to find one thing you regularly look at, be it a stop light or computer screen or familiar face, and try to see it from a different perspective. Ask yourself: “Is what I see what is really there?”



Be inspired, shift your perspective

You and I have it easy.

Just a few years ago – 10 or 20 – it took a lot of people, a lot of time, and a lot of talent to create perspectives that were out of the ordinary. Dreary monsters stomping through a city, explosive battles erupting in the dead of space, or even shirking an entire family, all use to take a lot of time and energy to create on the big screen.

Now days all it takes to create a new perspective is a computer.

Seriously. All anyone needs to see a new perspective is a computer. Take, for example, tilt–shifting. Wikipedia defines tilt–shift as “the use of camera movements on small- and medium format cameras, often tilting the lens relative to the image plane to achieve a very shallow depth of field.”

In plain English: tilt–shift means that a photographer or videographer takes a picture or video with a tilted lens, to create a blurred edge effect that makes the contents of the photograph or video look, well… like a toy.

Take, for example, this video of sea docks in Sydney, Australia.

Everything in that video is real. But by using the tilt–shift technique and titling the video “Bathtub”, the viewer gets to see the docks from a different perspective. The viewer gets the impression that everything going on in the video takes place in a bathtub or studio set.

Talk about easy creative inspiration!

So adjusting your perspective can make you see things in a whole different way; a way that will – undoubtedly – inspire your creativity! And all you need to change your perspective is your computer. It’s easy!

So don’t complain that you can’t find creative inspiration when you have everything you need to inspire yourself.



Does age make you any less creative?

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When we are young our minds are open to new possibilities, experiences, and thought paths.

As we age, we begin to form “ruts” in our way of thinking. As we grow older, each of us begins to accept that things need to be a certain way, or should be a certain way, for whatever reason.

Through age we discover that we will never fully understand the opposite sex, that what goes up will (undoubtedly) come down, and that the best way to solve a puzzle is one piece at a time.

But why?

Why, during our aging process but after a certain level of adulthood, do we accept things “as is” and forget about the possibility that things don’t have to be how they are? Why is it that so many of us are afraid to push boundaries after we reach adulthood?

There’s a great article over at NYTimes.com called Exploring the past: Creativity in Old Age (I strongly recommend you read it if you have 5 minutes to spare, and believe me: you do). In the New York Times article, Dr. Harry R. Moody states:

“Often the decline in creativity comes about because people’s underlying capabilities are not being challenged – they’re locked into jobs or situations that are boring.”

Ah ha! The reason so many adults begin to feel as though they aren’t as creative as they once were is because they lock themselves into situations that are repetitive or boring.

Ask yourself this: when was the last time I did something creatively challening, something outside of my regular routine?

Compare your answer to the one of this question: as a youth, how often did I break with routine using creativity? As we grow older we force ourselves to become locked down into routines, we force ourselves to avoid challenges for fear of losing money, a job, or love. As an adult, we might need to support a family, so we’ll lock ourselves into a job where our creativity is greatly hindered. Or maybe, as an adult, we’ll realize that our future is heavily dependent on retirement (but is it?).

In conclusion, age brings responsibilities, the false need to “lock into routines”, and the overwhelming feeling of being less creative. But it’s not age that can make you any less creative. Only you can make yourself less creative.

So, today, try breaking with routine. Challenge your creativity. Call in sick and go for a drive to a place you have never been to, go attempt to fly a kite in a field, make chocolate chip pancakes (using blended bananas in the batter instead of eggs) for dinner. Do something that is far from your regular routine and challenges your creativity.

Even if it’s just for today: realize that you are not stuck as you grow older, you are still creative… you just need a way to express it.

As C. P. Fulford Jr. once said: “If you are coasting, it means you are going downhill.”



Take a look from far away

Where do you look for news?

If you’re like most people you turn to blogs, television, magazines, and newspapers. And, if you’re like most people, you probably think you’re getting a lot of perspective on the world or events by reading your favorite blogs, watching your favorite TV shows, or reading your favorite magazine or newspaper.

But are you really gaining perspective if all you are doing is learning about things you already know?

You aren’t going to learn anything from your local newspaper or blog or magazine or television station that you don’t already know (or that everybody else already knows). The perspective you gain from turning to local resources is closed and exactly the kind of perspective you are already likely to have.

The same goes for creativity: if you look for creative inspiration in the places you always have looked, you aren’t learning anything new.

Instead of looking to your favorite (and especially local) outlets for inspiration, turn to distant outlets. Newspapers from across the world, bloggers who live in another continent, or television shows (or movies) from a different time and place. Learn about things from a distance.

The best way to become truly creative is to embrace distant learning, because – as all creative geniuses know – distance provides perspective. And perspective is the real key to wisdom.