9 ways to be more creative in 2011.

So, a series of events and conversations over the past few weeks have gotten me to contemplate my own creativity over the past few years. I talked about balance in an earlier post, but not really creative balance. In many ways, Ae was (is) a creative outlet for me - but it's different than creating my own artwork. So, for the busy people like me out there that always put work, tasks, or the needs of others before their own, I'm begging you to mimic my own resolution for next year:

Take more time for your own creativity.

I know you probably have your own resolutions. Get in shape, quit smoking, and so on. For some people that read this blog, your art IS your big idea that you'll be working on- and that's awesome!

But to help spawn a little creativity, I put together some ideas and resources on ways to be more creative in 2011. I hope they are helpful, or at the very least inspiring!



#1 - Take an art class

Watercolor, pottery, dance, life drawing... there are lots of classes out there and not always enough people in them, especially at the community level.

Taking classes doesn't have to be an expensive proposition, either. You can often find used art supplies on craigslist or at garage sales - or keep your eyes out for sales at your local art stores, especially around the holidays.


(image from "TLC - How Stuff Works")


painting project

#2 - Paint something

Rumor has it that painting something can be hilariously and awesomely fun. In reasonable instances, it can even be minimally destructive. ;)

Add color to a room in your house that needs it. Paint a picture of your pets. Have a custom mural painted on your car. Just grab a brush, mix some paint, and add some color to your life!

(This is extra big for my fellow Minnesotans. We've got months of the gray and white ahead of us - why not add a little color to the winter mix?)


#3 - Curate your own Art Show

It's a little bit of work, but not impossible.

Do you have a group of creative folks you know looking for an opportunity to show their work, but haven't found one yet? Find a space and curate a show for them there. Is your child a burgeoning artist? Curate a show in your living room and invite your friends and family.

To help you - here's a guide I made a few years ago for curating a group exhibition. Quite a bit could apply to solo shows as well. As I noted when I made it - this isn't the be-all-end-all handbook, but it is a helpful book for those just starting out and those looking for some type of guide to creating a cohesive exhibit.

Download the pdf

To the people that say curating isn't an art? I say - then you haven't been to the right shows. :)


#4 - Make your Own Mini-Documentary, Movie, or Short Film

You don't have to be an award-winning documentarian to make something that is valuable and/or enjoyable to you, your friends and family, just pick a topic you enjoy and create a small film about it. Most macs now come with video-editing software that is very user friendly. PC Mag did an article on the Best Free Video Editors which you can read here: pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2329226,00.asp. You really don't even need a fancy camera - most regular cameras have a built in camcorder function, and some phones even have a remarkable recording capacity.

A few years ago, the Soap Factory in Minneapolis held the "Ten Second Film Festival" - a lot of which was filmed using small, portable devices. The cumulative efforts were absolutely phenomenal.

Point being, there's a lot you can do with just a cell phone and only 10 seconds of film. You can do something pretty cool very easily without breaking the bank.


#5 - Make your own greeting cards

Is it just me, or does the bell curve of greeting cards at the store range from cheap and horrible to ridiculously expensive and only slightly less horrible?

bad greeting card

I think a great way to express your own creativity and save your family the gag factor is by making cards - and handmade cards are waaaayyyy better than anything you can buy. Maybe this is just my opinion, but I'd rather receive a noodle-drawing card from my nieces than pretty much anything at the store! (Even thought they're way too old for noodle drawings now.)

I found a great tutorial on how to make cards and envelopes from fancy magazines:


Paper Source also has a wide variety of how-to workshops:


So... make cards and send or give them to someone neat! If you make and send me one of your handmade cards, I'll even write about it and post a link to your blog or website on my blog. Or: sometime in 2011 send me an email about how YOU'VE been more creative, and I'll send YOU a handmade card!

(image above shamelessly stolen from thinkgeek.com)


Mr. Show - Guitar

#6 - Learn to play an instrument, already!

According to a 2003 Gallup poll, 52% of American households have an instrument in residence. What I'd like to know is - how many of those households have an instrument in residence along with somebody that knows how to play it???

If you're like me, guitar and instrument lessons might be kind of intimidating (or at the very least, unaffordable.) One may joke, but the e-how for "Teach Yourself Guitar" actually does a fairly good job of covering the basics if you want to teach yourself how to play the guitar.

And if you're worried about ACTUALLY learning an instrument...


#7 - Play Rock Band.

Or go out and do karaoke. Or play video games. Basically, just play more games in general - especially interactive ones!

There are a lot of ethical arguments about Rock Band (and I've heard the best of them, my fiance being a musician.) I, for one, think the technology is fantastic.  And as anybody who's played Rock Band at a house party full of mildly intoxicated friends and family, you know that really not everybody should ACTUALLY start a cover band. Plus, Rock band does come with a drum kit and a trainer, bridging the gap between playing a game and actually learning how to play that musical instrument at least a little!

My fiance is playing Assassin's Creed right now. It's a role-playing game, a majority of which is set in Florence. You're a paid assassin (hence the name) and you race around a true-to-1191 Florence. The beauty of the game is incredible! In addition to playing art-based games throughout the course, as you go through the game and achieve your goals, you actually build a collection of artwork at your super fancy home. Aside from the fact that you're an assassin that killed a bunch of people to make your fortune, it's pretty cool to walk through your (virtual) gallery and take up close looks at works like the Birth of Venus. You also get to have conversations in Italian with Da Vinci.

Dear Pong,

Video games have come a loooong way!

Love, The future.

On, and are you convinced that games stunt creativity? That may not be the case. "An Indian-origin media researcher at Penn State has found in a study that video games with the power to energize players and induce a positive mood, may help increase a persons creativity."

All Work...

You can read the full article here: thaindian.com/newsportal/lifestyle/video-games-may-improve-pupils-creativity-corporate-decision-making_10052198.html

In his book "A Whole New Mind" Dan Pink also talks at length about the integral role of "Play" both at home and in the workplace. Play games, and don't feel guilty about it. Today's games are so advanced they actually help with creative problem solving in the workplace, too.

Basically - if you want to be creative, you have to have fun! (Now, who wants to come over and play Rock Band with me? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?)


# 8 - Keep a Journal

Drawing? Writing? Doodling? Composing? Keep a journal with you at all times. You never know when inspiration is going to strike. One way to be a little bit more creative next year is to allow your mind work when a creative spark occurs.

If you're not into a hard-copy journal... consider start a Blog. It's easy, free. Granted, you might not get your hands as messy blogging than say, with paint, but blogging is a very creative and fun process. (YAY BLOGGING!)

Sketchbooks are cheap. Pencils are even cheaper. Instead of screwing around on your phone or with germ-laden magazines at various waiting rooms, draw!


#9 - Surround yourself with creative people (sometimes.)

ZenHabits has a great article on the balance between solitude and collaboration. It sounds obvious, but in order to be more creative, you need time to actually be creative! This is what I struggle with the most. In 2011 I'm going to try really, really hard to carve out time and actually allow myself work on my own art. I think when you're not being creative, you should also give yourself a support system to nurture your creativity. You might even find you inspire others as well.

There are lots of ways to connect with creative folks. From Stitch-and-Bitch circles to Poetry Tag group, there's no shortage of ways to connect with other creatives. (And the internet has a forum for practically everything you could think of.) You join a drawing group to keep you motivated. There are even sites dedicated to active journalers.

An incredible community for moleskine-inclined folks: skineart.com/

Twin Cities Urban Sketchers Group : urbansketchers-twincities.blogspot.com

The main point is: prioritize your creative time, and have support networks that will encourage you to continue to do so.


Well, there you go. 9 easy ways you can be more creative in 2011.

  1. Take an art class
  2. Paint something
  3. Curate your own exhibit
  4. Make your own mini-documentary, movie, or short film
  5. Make your own greeting cards
  6. Learn to play your dusty musical instrument
  7. Play rock band (or more games in general)
  8. Keep a journal, all the time!
  9. Surround yourself with other creative people.

So, creative and potentially-more-creative folks - what are you waiting for? The world's gonna end in 2012 anyway, right? So if not 2011, when?

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” —Maya Angelou

So... go be creative!




This post is part of an ongoing series. The first post, "Ten suggestions for keeping your sanity while pursuing your dream" can be found at: www.purenoumena.org/blog/?p=2620.


Do you have a creative or fun resolution for 2011? Please share it in the comments below!