Keeping It Fresh

What inspires you creatively? Where do you look to for creative inspiration? What creative activities are you involved in outside of your profession and how do they contribute to the work that you do?

I began thinking about this question a few months ago when I enrolled in a silversmithing class that meets one night a week at a local community college. It was something I had always wanted to learn how to do and I felt like I needed to try something new to break up my weekly routine. Working in the field of Landscape Architecture, I am “creating” every day, but there is a part of me that needs to be making things with my hands.  In Landscape Architecture, the creative process is often measured over periods of months or years, but with a craft such as silversmithing, you are rewarded with the immediate satisfaction of moving from design to finished product in a matter of hours…and you get the added bonus of being able to hold the finished product in my hands.  When you follow the same routine day after day, it is harder to change your pattern of thinking. Changing my routine and learning something new has me inspired and thinking more creatively.

As creative people, we all need to look to other places for inspiration. Whether it is taking a class and learning something new, drawing, dancing, doing yoga, cooking, listening to interesting podcasts, reading ,or hiking in nature, participating in other activities in our free time can change how we think and feel, lead to fresh ideas in our work and lead to an overall greater sense of satisfaction with our lives.

We wanted to share our list of inspirational resources…Feel free to add your favorites!

1.Change your homepage to something that inspires, calms, or clears your mind.  It is one of the first things you look at when you get to work…save yourself the trauma of jumping right in to what everyone else needs from you asap (i.e. your email).

2. Spend a few minutes gazing into one of the largest aquariums in the world.

3.  Check out some of our favorite podcasts:

After The Jump

Design Matters

We Dig Plants

Studio 360

Radiolab

4. Peruse these great design blogs:

Inhabitat

Adaptive Reuse

Cool Hunting

 

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Our Drawing on the Land blog has now passed the one year mark. With more than 143 posts, 37 contributors, and almost 10,000 viewers it’s been a great first year. But as with anything, we don’t want to rest on our past successes. We want the coming year to offer even more juicy material to inspire us and stretch the bounds of our thinking.

On my desk is a book that I’ve been reading called: Sticky Wisdom, How to Start a Creative Revolution at Work, by What If, The Innovation Company. The premise of the book is that “innovation and creativity are vital to our growth”  on both a personal and a professional level but all too often creativity is under developed or worse yet squelched by the business world because it can’t be measured easily in short-term, bottom line benefits. The book offers a series of case studies on businesses that have been wildly successful while both promoting and nurturing creativity and ways to move forward in a similar fashion.

The first chapter begins by looking at the concept of “Freshness” through a series of questions:

“Is this you?

  • You do the same things every day. Take the same route to work, read the same newspaper and listen to the same radio station in the morning.
  • You spend most of your time with people from similar backgrounds.
  • You rarely go out of your way to try new things, meet new people, or go to new places.
  • You’re so busy that you settle for the first good solution to a problem.
  • You suspect many of your ideas could easily be copied by your competitors.
  • If you were really honest with yourself, you’d agree your ideas were more incremental than revolutionary.”

So, I don’t know about you but I wasn’t feeling all that “fresh” after answering those questions and yet I subscribe to a primary theme of the book that “when you need to be creative, you have a ready supply of freshness to draw on” from the “freshness store-cupboard”.

I need to shake things up a bit and here are their recommendations on how to do that:

  • “Take a new form of transport to work next week. You’ll be amazed at who you’ll meet and what you’ll see.
  • Deliberately read a magazine or newspaper, listen to a radio station or watch a TV programme that you wouldn’t normally.
  • Plan a monthly lunch with people from other parts of the business you don’t usually consult. Chat to them about an issue they are working on and get their perspective on issues you are working on.
  • Get out of your normal environment for at least half a day a week. At least 70% of what we think is the result of what’s around us.
  • Ask your family (especially kids) to help solve a problem you’re working on.
  • Allocate twice as much time as you normally would to solving a problem. Make sure you have at least three solutions before you choose one.
  • Block out ‘freshness time’ for you and your team once a month. Go somewhere you wouldn’t normally go together of do an activity you wouldn’t normally do.
  • Take a walk in the park during office hours. Change the pace of your thinking. Take time to ponder.
  • Listen to the music charts.
  • Reinvent your job role at least once a year.”

I like their ideas, but I’m also coming up with my own “freshness” list, which includes taking a class, learning to cook one new recipe, and yes, writing more for the Drawing on the Land blog. When I look back over the entries, the blog provides a great source of new and innovative ideas; whether you write, or read, or comment, it’s a way to keep our “freshness store-cupboard” stocked and replenished.

What’s on your “freshness” list? And what are your suggestions for keeping the blog “fresh” and full of vigor?

2 Comments

  1. Congratulations to a very impressive first year…..your list makes me contemplate my
    own time and what I do with it. Without a doubt, “Freshness” is needed…..now I just
    need self discipline!

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