Five ways to inject your business with deeper creativity By Mandy Marksteiner I’m doing something that I’ve never done before. Rather than working at home or at a coffee shop I’m sitting in the muddy grass, leaning against the rock fountain in front of Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church. The sound of the waterfall fills my ears. I can smell the moss on the cool rocks. I won’t stay long–I hear thunder and raindrops are dissolving the fresh ink on my page–but it doesn’t matter. Sitting here for a couple of minutes has eased me out of my every day, rushed, frazzled, compulsive email checking mundane mind. I’m ready to get to work. As a writer, I can’t function without being creative. Business owners also need to understand and tap into their own creativity, because better ideas often mean more money and more success. Here are some ways that local business owners have tapped into their creativity to give their businesses a boost.
Keep a regular schedule “I get up in the morning and am very eager to get to the Hive,” said Jung Pyo Hong, who has used the Hive in White Rock as his post-retirement creative workshop. “Today I was there before seven in the morning. It’s quiet and I have a chance to think about things that are hard to think about during the middle of the day.” Putting time aside every day has enabled him to come up with better computer programming ideas. “I recently got back into computer programming after three years of not spending time on it. When I was still at work I had ideas, but was never in an environment where I could follow up on them. Now I am able to follow up on some of the ideas that I had before. Some of them are very good.”
Solving Problems is part of the Creative Process Every time you solve a problem, you bring yourself closer to your ideal business. Ruby K’s Bagel Café has been profitable for seven years. Nevertheless, owner Ruby Alexander could see that she had a few problems. For example, during busy times customers enter the restaurant, see the line, and change their minds about eating there. Local architect, Steven Shaw, helped her solve her business problems by leading her staff through a design charrette. “A design charrette is a gathering of people who are familiar with the project,” said Shaw. “Everyone writes positive and negative things about the business on Post-its. You then group those comments into categories. You can even stick them around the room. The biggest problems are the ones that have the most Post-its. You leave the notes where they are and come up with a creative solution to each of the problems.” The process of writing down problems that a business faces is an important step in Shaw’s creative process. When Alexander completes her renovations, she will not only improve how things look, but she will also improve her customers’ experience. Any business can use a design charrette to find creative solutions to business problems.
Do something just for fun Minesh Bacrania specializes in portrait and commercial photography, but his upcoming solo show in the portal gallery at the Art Center at Fuller Lodge is based on a project that he did for fun. The portal show will feature his documentary the ironwork at the Municipal Building in Los Alamos. “This project is personal. It’s what I like to do,” explained Bacrania. “It’s interesting to go and see what people can do, whether it’s building a building or going up against a forest fire.” Not only has he produced some of his most creative photos during his side projects, but he has also used these projects to build an audience, promote his business and enjoy his work. He said, “The camera is like a passport to be nosy. I’ve done things that I never would have done, been to cool places and learned cool things.”
Don’t worry if you’re not unique–nobody is. “Good Artists Copy, Great Artists Steal,” - Pablo Picasso. “What a good artist understands is that nothing comes from nowhere. All creative work builds on what came before. Nothing is completely original,” wrote Austin Kleon in Steal Like an Artist; 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative (available at Ottowi Station Bookstore). One of the fastest ways to become more “creative” is to get better at finding and using ideas that are worth stealing. One way to do that is to keep a swipe file of great ideas. The file can include ads that speak to you, articles that relate to what you’re trying to do, and business models that you would like to imitate. As your file grows you will naturally find ways to connect two ideas that nobody thought to connect before. This is creativity.
Now that he is retired, Jung Pyo Hong enjoys taking advantage of the space at the Hive to work his creative ventures. The environment is much more conducive for coming up with ideas and following up on them.
Let your left brain in on the fun The right hemisphere of the brain is generally thought to be the side that is “creative”. But a jazz musician can’t play a hot salsa solo without a thorough understanding of scales and chords, a poet can’t write a moving sonnet without mastering iambic pentameter and most aha! moments occur after someone has been logically mulling over the facts. Pat Soran is a local artist who uses his left-brain to create his segmented woodturnings. These wooden vessels have smooth natural lines and intricate geometrical patterns that have been carefully engineered by Soran. He begins by making a rough drawing of the piece, sketching rectangles over the drawing to represent the layers of wood. Each layer is like a pineapple slice, divided into segments. A typical 13” vase has 31 rings. Each ring is divided into 12 trapezoids. Using simple geometry and a program called “Segment Planner,” Soran calculates the measurements of the individual segments of each ring. By the time he reaches his studio, and fires up his chop saw to cut the angles of the trapezoids, he knows what he needs to do. His plans tell him the length of the outside and inside of each trapezoid and he can concentrate on making the wood look beautiful.
Essence August/September 2012