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6 Steps for Creative Expansion (and Contraction!)

Most writing about art and creativity relegates creativity as something effusive, amorphous, and unpredictable. We have two problems with this. The first is that creativity isn’t mysterious. The second is that creativity is that the general relegation is almost fully correct. Creativity is effusive, mysterious, amorphous but it only appears that way if you wait for it to arrive.

Therefore the first step is to:

1. Be Prepared for Your Artist’s Arrival

Most of creativity is not fun. Most of it is about being organized. The step is the most nuanced. Generally, inspiration comes like a flash and usually the message is the end product, not the step-by-step directions, it is absolutely necessary to organize your supplies so that when your artist arrives you can hit the ground running!

The creative aspect is not lost to us. Sure, organizing is not as fun as say, making new DigiTex patterns, or LiteWork, but there is a joy in realizing, I get to organize my way! So we gathered up the enormous amount of cords, and arranged them according to audio, personal audio, video, power cables, computer cables, and separated them out from the rest of the equipment. I know this may seem obvious, but it was directly in contrast to my then roommate who built a shelf and organized his cables by size. This world is yours! Organize it!

Now organizing is not just about supplies, but also about how your artist arrives. This feeds into our next step but this part of Step 1 requires you to look at yourself, and think about your creative capacity and historical output. What factors precipitate breakthroughs? Was it food? Circumstance? Our beginnings in DigiTex and Surface Design was in the k-mt throw. The pattern we produced here came during the first vacation that we ever took in three years after graduation. The renewed confidence of getting over impostor syndrome and doing something for ourselves felt really good. I really had no idea what I was getting into and now here we are!

I tell that little story because when I look back on it, some of my very important creative breakthroughs have arrived as a reward for some unrelated hard work outside of my main creative focus. It may not be today, but someday your artist will arrive. Be prepared!

And when that arrival comes, and you are organized, its important to not lose track of what your artist is saying. You may find it helpful to:

2. Develop an Arrival Ritual

Anyone who has made music before knows what it’s like getting the muse whispering sweet chords and melodies into your ear and then losing her voice to software updates, saving previous projects, or to the voice note you made has you wondering more of what was I even hearing?

So what we’re saying is that take time out to really listen to what you are hearing/feeling/sensing/seeing. Take it all in and begin to systematically approach your inspiration. This step calls you to find a process for harnessing your creativity. Being able to really figure out what works for you, systematically, is what will enable you to have more fulfilling and fun experiences. Every monotonous and iterative process must be re-framed and re-contextualized in your mind as instrumental to your creative output. Once the re-framed and re-contextualization process is solid, you’ve completed step 2. Next you have to:

3. Incorporate the Arrival Ritual into your Lifestyle

It’s not enough to just have completed Step 2. We are now beginning to pay attention to ourselves in a more meta way, without being harsh, or judgemental.

I tend to get into a slump of self-criticality and doubt on Wednesdays. This is a vestigal behavior that served me well at some point and, as I continue to learn now–as I tell it to you–that it is no longer useful to be used in that way. I am quite certain now that the swelling up of emotions and passions will be with me most Wednesdays. However, one Wednesday, one song changed my point of view.

Tell me creator / Would the people laugh at me/ or would they see how wonderful it all could be?

Now, Junie Morrison is pretty out there. But this song was exactly what I had been feeling. One Wednesday I realized, through this song that I needed to cultivate my own Super Spirit. So now on Wednesdays I make it an effort to listen to especially more Junie Morrison and especially the P-Funk album Motor Booty Affair of which he almost single-handedly produced.

It takes work to pay attention to yourself, to look at yourself in the mirror without ideal-eyes and see where you are faulty. Listening to these types of songs helps to be able to examine yourself with critique, but without criticism. These Funkadelic Wednesdays help to usher in the later creativity that always comes.

If we don’t pay attention to ourselves in this way then we really won’t understand when we are at our creative best. We will constantly be outside of ourselves, late for work, hungry, are they looking at me? are they looking at me in that way? This idiot isn’t using their turn signa– and miss out on the best of the best inspirations. By ritualizing your life you begin to move towards turning your body into an antenna and tuning into the frequency that allows you to become the vessel for that “Super Spirit you got to get with it!”

4. Learn, Outside

The Pattern House of Olonade would not exist had we not:

  • had professionally training as a molecular biologist
  • inherited a green thumb
  • been involved in theater from musicals to stand-up comedy for 15 years
  • been a fan of geology, history, and geography

This list can keep going but these four points make the point that a wide variety of influences make up who we are and our creative output. Everyone knows that 2020 has been its own adjective (neither doozy or ****-show are enough) but in this quarantine we have been learning a ton. It’s resulting in excellent offerings for our clients, garden, friends, family, and our inner self.

A cross-checking of some of the passages read in the Book of Coming Forth By Day led us to the amazing discovery.

Comparative History, the mdw ntr and

We have to feed our creativity just like we feed ourselves. I love spaghetti, and pasta type dishes, but I can’t really eat those foods in the summer and late spring because they are just too “cold season” for me. By the time the seasons change I’ve gotten over that cold-weather food and it’s time to fire up the grill! It’s a larger culinary ritual now and my readings in agriculture, Traditional African Spiritual Systems, and business keep my creativity fed like the grill does.

5. Exercise/Sleep

I’ve accepted that I am a night-owl. I didn’t really meet anyone who seriously preferred to work late until I met a retired professor who didn’t wake up until 11am every day because he didn’t go to bed until 2 or 3 in the morning. “It’s quiet!”

However, my exercise is not as great. The endorphin rush and release is real. It is important to exercise because I do lament getting winded while dancing to P-Funk on those Wednesdays. However, those deep breaths that are necessary at that moment do serve me well. Creative Expansion-contraction-Expansion-Contraction-Inhale-Exhale.

6. Just Start

Just start at once after the above steps are fulfilled. This is always and actually the first step. In fact, by now, you’ve done this step 6 times! Congratulate yourself! Your Artist has arrived! At the end of the day, you are going to be the one to execute the ideas that you are given. Waiting around will not help the get done any quicker. D.J. Rogers sings it so so so beautifully.

We have been sold an extremely poignant and romantic false idea of Art being this delicate thing, instead of something inherent to us and intrinsically accessible by us. We wish to empower you. We’d love to get in touch with you and help you realize your imagination. Contact us and let’s figure out how Your Artist Arrives.

6 Steps to Creative Expansion

1. Be Prepared for Your Artist’s Arrival
2. Develop an Arrival Ritual
3. Incorporate the Arrival Ritual into your Lifestyle
4. Learn, Outside
5. Exercise and Sleep, of course!
6. Just Start

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