Tools to expand your creativity
Photo by Michael Competielle
Recently I finished a creative writing project. The actual project was to record a new original sound effect per day for 1 month. I purchased a new 4K GoPro on a Gorillapod so my audio creations had a visual element to add to the sounds.
With a growing passion for expanding my Sound Design library and field recording while owning a media production company I felt the project would create a nice new library of fresh and original sounds.
And what happened….nothing. Why?
Lack of inspiration. Being I create original sound effects for film and video content the visuals requiring sounds already existed. Door squeaks, engine roars, environmental ambiences the sound bites I’d create were placed to visuals on a screen.
So how did I get motivated for the new project?
Writing Haiku….huh? Yes you heard me. Writing Haiku… 100 of them.
Well how did I create the inspiration for my Haiku? Cellphone pictures. Over 14,000 of them. Were those images that good? Nope most of the sucked but I only needed 100.
Early in the project the images I used were generally nature inspired. Very simple and safe for what were essentially traditional Haiku but then the situation changed. I quickly bored of standard nature photographs and instead photographed and wrote Haiku that were riskier and more creative. Suddenly my mind was seeing Haiku in just about everything. Architecture, Fireworks and slabs of meat.
The daily task of photographing topics for my creative writing opened the floodgates of my free expressive thinking. Safe and common concepts quickly bored me as I felt I needed to expand my expressiveness.
While photographing I’d have ideas for sound recording, film scripts and art projects. Writing to an image allowed me to look deeper into the photograph and detail what I thought or how I felt. My vocabulary expanded as I’d struggle to find synonyms with the appropriate syllables.
Always multitasking or realistically multi-projecting, my Haiku helped with my creativity in other projects as well. Hearing sounds in my Haiku and my photography my mind heard the sounds and I just moved forward to create more.
Stop thinking about art works as objects, and start thinking about them as triggers for experiences,” ambient music pioneer Brian Eno wrote in his diary.
Brian Eno is a musician, record producer, visual artist and philosopher. With deep roots in electronic music with Roxy Music and David Bowie and as the the creator of Ambient Music, Brian often expanded his creative process by visualizing music.
With solo records titled Ambient 1: Music For Airports, Music for Films and Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks Brian writes textural music.
Enter the Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt Oblique Strategies cards.
Peter Schmidt was a pioneering multimedia artist and painter who created a box of 55 sentences printed on original unused artwork called “The Thoughts Behind the Thoughts”
Eno was friends with Schmidt and a few years later created his own handwritten inspirational cards named the “Oblique Strategies.”
Seeing similarities in the cards Eno and Schmidt decided to release a joint box set of cards also sold as the “Oblique Strategies”
The cards are used as a written constraint used with a creative process. Many are believed to be for writing music however the reality is they can be used for any creative endeavors.
Examples are as follows:
- A Line Has Two Sides
- Into the Impossible
- Turn it Upside Down
- Retrace Your Steps
- Switch Instruments
Visualize your next project and grab an Oblique Strategies card as inspiration. Use it for photography, a song or new product design.
IDEO is a global design and consulting firm that specializes in the practice of Design Thinking in product design, branding, hospitality, furniture, toy and automotive industries.
Originally founded in the late 1970’s specializing in product design an early client was Steve Jobs of Apple needing assistance in the design of the first computer mouse.
Over the course of the past 40 years IDEO’s principals have been utilized in almost every industry. Firmly based on the Design Thinking process which IDEO believes should be also used for Human-Centered Design to solve the World’s issues and a concept they teach and give away for free.
Design thinking is a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.
— TIM BROWN, EXECUTIVE CHAIR OF IDEO
Enter IDEO’s Method Cards
IDEO’s Method Cards were developed for practicing and aspiring designers looking to expand on their designs and process.
Broken up into 4 categories:
These cards can help expand on creative thinking by using Design Thinking theory to expand on project or product problems and further development.
With written directions on each card such as “Look-Rapid Ethnography” or “Ask-Cognitive Maps” these cards help teams expand product developments.
In the Werner Herzog Masterclass he teaches filmmakers the importance of reading. He recommended a book The Peregrine which is a story of a falcon. By understanding the perspective of the falcon it changes your perspective on a situation or event and expands your thought process. Understanding and explaining from another perspective can bring new life to a story.
While Werner doesn’t recommend film school or even traditional filmmaking concepts, he does recommend the importance of learning to be an engaging storyteller. With a belief that the world is revealed to those who travel Herzog recommends you travel, meet different people and learn.
“I’d like to add that when I travel by foot, I don’t do it as a backpacker where you take all your household items with you — your tent, your sleeping bag, your cooking utensils,” Herzog wrote. “I travel without any luggage.”
My lessons in expanding my creativity have been helpful and life changing. Try some of these techniques to expand your creativity and creative process. And most of all have some fun.