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July 05, 2006

How do you fill the well?

Paul Diamond (an acd here) and I recently spoke to about 250 people at Hallmark.  We were sharing the stage with one of our clients talking about some recent work. Our presentation was part of a week's worth of programs aimed at bringing in some outside perspectives on innovation to Hallmark.

Of course, I felt I got something out of visiting their place, too.

It's incredibly interesting to be around such a diverse creative culture. Some in our audience were writers and art directors. Some were editors or designers. Still others were sculptors, mixed media artists, artisan prop builders or print makers. 

After our time on the stage, we toured a bit of Hallmark's campus. We entered a studio where some of Hallmark's sculptural artists experiment with materials and technique. One of the artists gave us the nickel tour. I could have lingered all day. I think I have a sculptor's disposition (I wish I had a sculptor's talent). We talked about what they did there, what materials they were experimenting with and what kinds of products were a result of the work. Instantly I wished we had our whole staff in that room to soak up a very different kind of creative process.

We've talked several times in this space about how important it is to refill your creative well. We'll likely touch on it many more times before this blog goes dark. It's something I believe in despite the fact that some on our staff consider the notion a little corny. Which leads me to a question: 

What is it that you and/or your company do to help refresh that creative brain of yours? What works? How often is beneficial? Your thoughts and comments are appreciated.


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At CrazyVirgo & Co., we encourage alone-time, whether it's eating, seeing a movie, walking around, shopping, hiking, cycling, gallery, music show. it's the best way to observe, reinvigorate, become inspired without the noise of someone else being with you or someone else's commentary and influence.

p.s. at Hallmark, did you get to see the room where they keep all the cutsey puppies and kitties?

That corny notion puts food in their pockets, er, tables. On their tables, that is. Money goes in the pockets. Unless it's a snickers. That could fit. Cargo pants- you could hold a roast turkey in those suckers.

I take a walk through the mission in San Francisco with my notebook and my iPod. Sometimes I stop and draw stuff. As a writer, I find that drawing is very meditative - since there's no pressure (internal or external) to draw anything worthwhile.

Sometimes I go to a beach, stare out at the ocean, and see how long I can just be.

I watch a ton of films and check out as much new music that I can, either streaming via iTunes/radioparadise.com and/or suggestions from other creatives.

I am a shameless people-watcher. Observing the way people interact with others or entertain themselves is a favorite activity of mine (I hardly ever mind being stuck in an airport - as long as there are people around). It really helps me create ideas for dialog and communication.

Another way I "fill the well" is to engage in an activity where my mind can wander. I cook a big meal, mow the lawn, build something, go for a swim. Whenever I put my mind on auto-pilot I have a pretty good chance of coming up with some new ideas... whether they're good or not is, of course, another issue.

Driving has always done it for me; it's meditative and I truly enjoy the rumble of a big-block engine and the smell of high-test fuel.

It's becoming an expensive habit-- the older I get the more expensive my toys become, to make no mention of the cost at the pump-- but I believe, since I'm doing it for the good of my professional life, I can write it off on my taxes. ;)

I try to do something totally unrelated. Lately, my strategy has been to read unrelated magazines... the two that I usually hit are Readymade and Dwell. The other day I got a great magazine called Imbibe delivered to my door... lots of fun stuff and lots of great drink ideas.

The only problem with that is once I find some inspirational stuff, I tend to blog about it... which is why I have a creativity blog instead of one on advertising. My scope would tend to be too broad. :)

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