Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Creativity Begets Creativity

As a creative person, do you ever feel it's "feast or famine?" One day, despite barely escaping Death by Caffeine your best idea involves laying on the couch, and the next you are so prolific in your work that Apple should be knocking down your door with offers of exorbitant consulting fees, a plush office and a company hybrid jet (flown by Brad Pitt and serving only calorie free hot fudge sundaes of course). How does this happen!?

There are plenty of credible studies on the concept, but in my experience, I've found that on my best days there are two constants: The presence of other creative people, and a variety of projects and stimulus. Trying to design something cool alone in my house all day almost always results in ...not much, but a day split between writing projects, design projects, baking, cleaning and happy hour with friends more often than not finds me happily creating into the wee hours of the morning.

This humble theory o' mine was clearly exemplified last week at Creative Connect, a meeting of designers, writers, photographers and artists in the Valley. While I'm the first to note the sheer ridiculousness of a bunch of egotistic, narcissistic, hipster Creatives out to "network" [read: get some gainful employment]; last week, when I was finally able to (sort of) let go of my own egotistic, narcissistic, hipster tendencies and actually look up from my fruit and cheese and beer-because-I'm-making-a-statement, I was pleased to discover a handful of great people I already knew (the lovely and talented Jennifer Bates and Lynelle Grimes among others) and a few I'm happy to have met there.

I soon found myself drifting around the room with a little group making hilariously snarky comments to each other and I started feeling less like I should have stayed home and more like the smart, creative, connected person I know I am somewhere under the nervous smile and vintage jewelry.**

Part way through the evening, true Drifting Creatives Martin Hooper and Gavin Braman - think Flight of the Concords do Graphic Design - introduced themselves: two new graduates from Texas "designing their way across the country." Picking up simple design projects to pay for gas and food and crashing similar networking events in each town, the two are building for themselves an interesting and diverse resume, and documenting their experience in short video diaries and via Twitter. Bravo guys - this is the kind of innovation and intelligent risk taking that I'm most inspired by. Here you are, practicing a wide variety of design and media in your day to day life, and seeking out other creative people in which to give your work some context.

As the beer and wine did their thing on us all and we started to relax, I began hearing some really great ideas come out of my little posse. Suddenly things around us stopped being intimidating and started being worth doing or at least dreaming about. I myself went home that night and promptly googled Improvisational Cuisine (called Posh, a Scottsdale restaurant definitely not on my list of Cheap Dates but profoundly enticing all the same, is owned and run by hometown boy done good Josh Hebert) and began plans for a "Please Hire Me" singing telegram to be delivered to wherever those drifting boys end up.

It got me thinking, shouldn't there be a place where creative people, employed or otherwise, can go - to work on individual projects in a communal space? Where they can bounce ideas off each other and pick up Photoshop tips, share music and be inspired and inspire others? The thing is, I think Chandler has one. Has anyone heard of Gangplank? From what I understand, the organization among other things, offers a free place for web professionals to work on client projects. But what constitutes a web professional? What constitutes a client project? I'd like to check it out but I'm short on moxie these days - do I need an invitation? Is it some sort of Manson-esque religious cult started by Steve Jobs and requiring an Ipod? Am I supposed to bring offerings of organic free trade coffee to appease the design gods? Will anyone sit by me if I don't have the right PBJ on White Wonder Bread in my Saved By the Bell lunchbox? What if I'm not cool enough? Or talented enough? How will I ever make it through seventh grade! Oh oops, excuse me while I shove back my junior high insecurities.

Hopefully, it is exactly as it's manifesto pontificates: a place for people who value collaboration over competition. Let me know if you've been there, and what you think.

Peace Love and Woodstock my friends - enjoy the anniversary of ideals by putting them to work in the Desert.

**Shameless Plug! I've got a mortgage to pay!


Steve Swedler said...

Megan: I work at Gangplank and it is just as you hoped it would be. :)

Gangplank is home to many different types of professionals and non-professionals alike. And we do not place restrictions on choice of profession either. We have artists, photographers, web, mobile, business, and any other sort of random skill set you can think of come through.

It's free. Open every weekday from 8:30ish to 6:30pm-ish. Except Wednesday when we are open until the last person with a key leaves. We also make accommodations for other evenings and weekends all the time.

We host events and allow others to use the facilities as well for their events. Wednesdays are the late day because we have "hacknight" which is really just a social gathering of people who want to collaborate and meet others in the web and creative space. Check the events section of for details.

We do not bite or require sacrifices to attend, so feel free to come by on a Wednesday and see for yourself. We would love to have you.

-Steve Swedler (@swedler)

Jennifer Bates said...

Hey Megan,

Thanks for the kind words, along with my website link :)

I'm glad you were at the creative connect. It's amazing what a little connecting can do. It made me realize I need to get out more...

Keep up the blogging!

seth Anderson said...

I agree. Somedays I feel so naturally inspired, and other days it's a chore and a half to get motivated and keep working. If I get into a rhythm then it's easier to stay focused. It's just getting to that point that is so hard.

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