Starting the creative day

(Please note, because of the time that has passed since I wrote this article, it may no longer reflect my current views or the most accurate and complete information available on this subject.)

Another mugI work in a world with a lot of artificially constructed structures and images, and those structures and images have a lot of straight lines, right angles and cold, industrial, unfeeling surfaces.  Computer monitors, e-mail composition windows, 8 1/2 x 11 paper with black lines on it, rectangular desks, rectangular parking spaces in dark grey rectangular parking garages, and so on.

It's also the case that I try to do creative work: building interactive and engaging websites, collaborating with people to find innovative solutions to challenging problems, creative writing, creative thinking, and more.

Sometimes it can be a challenge to do creative work surrounded by pieces of infrastructure that don't elicit creativity, and that sometimes even discourage it.

For a while now, I've been starting my day with coffee or tea poured into one of two hand-made mugs that I bought earlier this year.  The mugs were made by Ben Clark, who is an amazing potter and teacher from Richmond, now living in Cincinnati.

Ceramic MugThe mugs are still "built" items as opposed to "naturally occurring" ones, but they are built in a way that I can marvel at and appreciate what went into that process.  They are elemental, with the textures and ingredients of their making on display as you use them.  They are a simple and singular result of an inspired creative act.

And so when I start my day with these mugs, I feel a little more connected to the sources of creativity and inspiration that make me feel most alive in my work, and in my life.

For some people, it's ceramics that have that effect.  For others it's plants, or sculpture, or art on the wall.

What pieces of your surroundings bring you inspiration and creativity in your work and life?

2 thoughts on “Starting the creative day

  1. This may seem counterintuitive at first, but one way I spur my creativity is by imposing artificial (or recognizing existing) constraints and restrictions to condense the creative possibilities down to a more manageable size. The idea behind it is that when we have blue skies, we tend to stick with what's familiar, but when we are boxed in more, we will use creativity to overcome some of those constraints. (Example: If I say "let's make some pasta, what do you want?", consider what runs through your brain.... now what if I said "let's get some food, but it can't use red or white sauce b/c I have none" )

    Sometimes the first step in my creative process is just identifying those constraints and restrictions and then the rest sort of flows out naturally.

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