Creativity Applied

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Peter Bruckmann's Sprint Story

As an accountant I have never viewed myself as a particularly creative person and my initial reaction as a mixture of trepidation and anguish when I began a Creative Sprint challenge in my VCU EMBA class.

I spend most of my day dealing with numbers and spreadsheets and have not taken the time to think outside of work in a while. But I quickly started to have fun creating and sharing with my friends and family.  

One day we were instructed to spill something and use that for inspiration. I was sitting at the kitchen table thinking through what I was going to spill when I noticed we had a candle burning. I picked it up and spilled candle wax on my paper. For whatever reason, the drop formation that I had rather randomly created inspired me to turn it into a fish.

I’m not sure exactly where this came from, could have been eating goldfish crackers earlier in the week or having fish for dinner; either way it produced some inspiration for additional days. Creating fish with different instructions made me think about the challenge as a continuation of a theme. I found myself wanting to compare the fish and the results using different medium and instructions. I was curious to see how the fish I created each day would differ. 

Working with the unexpected became a central theme to my Creative Sprint. Being able to embrace the unexpected not just in this experience, but in other aspects of life can have a similar effect. When something different or unexpected pops up at work I will now think twice about it and see how it can be incorporated and become a value add to the organization.  

It felt good to share each day’s creation. Getting through the initial drafts of work that was questionable in its accuracy and creativity felt relieving in a way. It was great to get feedback and encouragement from team members as this went along. I also enjoyed providing the same support back to my team members.

Going into the assignment with little confidence that any creativity would manifest itself, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed the 30-day Sprint!

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Acknowledging Possibilities

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Amy Padgett's Sprint Story

I was determined to make my Creative Sprint a family affair. We’d be creative together, we’d learn new things about each other’s perspectives, and we’d have fun. What I learned in a short amount of time was that the teenager couldn’t see past her phone (surprise), my husband is effortlessly creative with everything around him, and that I struggle… I mean, really struggle with what we’re calling creativity here. In part, I think it’s because I wasn’t acknowledging the possibilities of everything that immediately surrounded me.  

Is this a product of age and technology? Is our society's’ perspective narrowing too rapidly because of technology? Did my view of the potentials of place and space start to narrow with Mario Brothers and Zelda? For the remainder of the sprint, I made it my mission to approach each day’s creative challenge without technology, with the one exception of taking an iPhone pic.  

Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  But right out of the gate, my creations didn’t feel beautiful to me.  I also fretted over one day's challenge to break something and make something new with it. Why do we have to break something to be creative, I wondered. After scouring my space for a good thing to break, I settled on a wine bottle.  When you break a glass bottle, nothing is uniform, and it doesn’t break in a perfect way.  Nothing about breaking anything is perfect…but, something new and good can come out of it if you are open to it. 

Another day when the creative juices weren’t flowing the most unexpected item became my inspiration: a bottle with flowers in it.  It is something that had been in our kitchen for a while.  But I didn’t look at it in great detail until the Creative Sprint.  I discovered new lines, curves and even sounds that I hadn’t thought about before.  This is another case where I re-discovered something already in my space.  I looked at it through a different lens to find unexpected beauty. 

My most compelling realization during the Creative Sprint was that I need to look around more often to be more aware of the beauty and opportunity in everything. 

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Every Day Was My Favorite

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Vicky Ivey's Sprinter Story

An Art Director on my team brought the Creative Sprint to the attention of our internal agency as a unique way for us to flex our creative muscles and get (re)inspired. I started participating in support of what she was trying to do, and then I fell in love with it. Or got addicted to it. 

Every day was my favorite day during the Creative Sprint. I looked forward to seeing what each day’s assignment would be. I couldn’t wait to post my entry, see how other people interpreted the challenge, and of course, see that other people enjoyed my work.

I always looked at the daily challenge first thing in the morning. Sometimes I knew what I wanted to do right away, and other times an idea I wanted to pursue eluded me until the end of the day. And there was zero correlation between how quickly the idea came and how much I liked the outcome.

One new thing I did during Creative Sprint that I will incorporate into my work in the future is: DON'T SETTLE. A couple times, I “finished” that day's assignment and then had another idea that I executed as well!  

My advice for a fellow Sprinter is to look at what everyone else did that same day, but not until you’ve finished yours! You may be surprised at how others interpret a similar “answer” in a different way, and that some people have different “answers” altogether.

Participating in the Creative Sprint reminded me that it’s easier than you think (and beneficial!) to incorporate inspiration and creativity into your day-to-day.



For more of Vicky's work visit her Instagram.


Sign up here to download a FREE Sprint To-Go game you can use to jumpstart creativity right now! 

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Father and Son Get Creative

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The Dynamic Duo

The Dynamic Duo

Teaming up with a buddy for a Creative Sprint is a fantastic idea. When that buddy is a family member it's all the more special.  Being creative together is a great way to connect with family. Motivating each other to get daily activities done, brainstorming new approaches and celebrating your achievements together creates a unique opportunity for bonding and fun!

Tim Gregory (@Zoothru on Instagram) and his 11-year old son (@Wild_Outside) participated in June's Skull-A-Day Creative Sprint together. This father-son duo interviewed each other about the experience for our website!

Why did you decide to participate in Creative Sprint/Skull-A-Bration?

Wild_Outside:  Because my dad was doing it and it sounded cool.

ZooThru: I followed Skull-a-Day 10 years ago I've always wanted to try a daily project. Most evenings I just watch TV or mess around on the internet, so I wanted to try focusing that time and energy towards something creative.    

What was your favorite day of this Creative Sprint/Skull-A-Bration? Why?

WO:  The first one (Fork Skull) because it was the first time I thought about a skull. So it I felt creative.  It was the first thing that popped into my mind.

ZT:   I liked the second day -- (I made a skull out of rope on my deck) because I wasn't sure about artistic ability going into this, so I was really happy it ended up looking like a skull.

What day was most challenging for you? Why?

WO:  The last day (Water skull -- painted with a watermelon juice on a plate). We were traveling and I was like "What am I going to do today?"   

ZT:  Day 27 was challenging. I made a skull out of a cocktail napkin. We were in the middle of a big family trip and I had no art supplies to make a skull with. It was tricky being on a trip and finding time to be creative. 

What was the most surprising or unexpected thing that happened this month?

WO:  That I drew most of my skulls. I thought I was going to make them out of things, but I ended up drawing most of them. 

ZT:  Day 1 and 29 were both drawn in a similar style -- I was surprised that you could see some improvement because of practice. Spending 30 days thinking about the shape of skulls I really learned the individual curves and structures that make a 'good' looking skull drawing.  

Did you collaborate on any of the days? How did you support each other during the month?

WO: We didn't really work together on any of them. 

ZT:  What?! We did clay skulls together. 

WO: Yeah, but I did my own. 

ZT: And I reminded you about the deadline about half of the days!!!  I think we supported each other by keeping each other motivated and making stuff every day. 

WO: I think mostly you supported me because I wouldn't have done anything creative if you hadn't started making skulls. I did it because you started doing it every day. 

What is one new thing you did month that you would like to try again or incorporate into your work in the future?

WO:  Drawing my skulls better. I would change them up to make the skull parts look different.  

ZT:  I tried water colors early in the month and it was fun using the paint. I want to do that again.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone who is starting their first Creative Sprint?

WO:  Try not to think about it too much. Think of something easy and simple and do it.   

ZT:   Try not to spend to much time or take on too many 'big project days'. The fun ones were the ones that took 15-30 minutes.

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Lost your creativity? Try Creative Sprint

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Emma Evan's Sprinter Story

March 2016 I discovered Creative Sprint by chance, through a Facebook group - called Make Art That Sells - somebody had put a link on and I was intrigued and took a look.  I have to say it is one of the best things I have done.  Art is something I am good at; I have always had a passion for drawing, designing and creating things. However in recent years through bereavement, life threatening illness and depression I thought I had lost this skill.

Creative Sprint has been instrumental in reawakening my creativity - and given me the confidence in my own ability to develop my own art work again.  My favourite day of my first ever sprint was Break Something and Create Something Out of the Parts and the Oreo owl I created is my most popular post to date.

Recently I have completed Skull-A-Day Creative Sprint in honour of Noah Scalin's original celebration of skulls.  I enjoyed this challenge and tried not to draw the skulls but make them out of different things. Really liked day 14 #educatedskull, I think I will do more work in the future using this technique.

Creative Sprint has changed the way I look at things and I can see that there is a creative solution to problems in everyday life.

Yes I would recommend doing Creative Sprint and this is what I would say to a new sprinter is what I wrote for one of the days of reflection, “Lost your creativity? Try Creative Sprint. Just do it, use your imagination, learn to trust your own ability, do not seek perfection, but go with the flow. Have fun- you never know where your journey will take you…"

Check out more of her work here.

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Just go for it

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Eve-Marie Allen's Sprinter Story

I have joined in the Creative Sprint a couple of times and because I really enjoy the challenge of creating without the need for perfection, just the need to create, the Skull-A-Day Creative Sprint was a perfect opportunity. I come from a fashion design and made to measure background so perfection is aimed for, to get the garment to fit and hang properly everything must be right, and exact, and I felt this was my art , and I have been very fussy when I create anything. To create without the need for perfection is extremely freeing, and lots of fun.

In order to combat that feeling of perfectionism is realizing that I should stop, anywhere in the process, see if what I am creating really needs me to keep going. I've realized that sometimes less is more.

I live in rural Northern New Zealand and like the company of creatives I have joined with while sharing on Instagram and Facebook, and I have loved Noah Scalin’s Skull-A-Day for a very long time.

My favorite day during the most recent Creative Sprint was the day I got a skull tattoo- it was unexpected but so very welcome and the timing was fitting I thought.  

During the Creative Sprint, I learning to think outside the box happened really quickly, as each day in a Sprint is so different. Outside of the box becomes the only way you can react, and I enjoyed being made to think.

The most unexpected day was selling one of my pieces, a wood cut print, which made me very happy. Creating the woodcut was something that I would like to do more of, I had so much fun making it.

My advice is to just go for it, don’t overthink, don’t stress or worry, just create without need to be perfect and you will surprise yourself.

Thanks heaps, Creative Sprint. It’s been great fun and I look forward to more!

Check out more of her work here

Turning daily projects into longterm practices.

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Katie Cowden's Sprinter Story

I joined the Skull-A-Bration Creative Sprint because I've always loved skulls, and doing art challenges always inspires me. Previously I've done 100 days of tiny doodles, 2 weeks of hearts leading up to Valentine's Day for several years, and 365 days of self portraits.

During the Skull-A-Bration Creative Sprint, my favorite day was the day I embroidered a skull. I was on a road trip with friends to go see an exhibit at The Museum of Fine Arts Houston and I finished just as we got there.

The most challenging was the day I did a gold leaf skull. I'd only used gold leaf once before, and I went through several attempts before I did one that turned out the be recognizable. 

The most unexpected thing that happened is that my art teacher mother participated with me. We live in different cities so she texted me photos of her project every day and I included them on my Instagram. It was a really fun experience to share with her, and since we ended up in the same place at the end of the month, we got to do a collaborative piece.

As I went through the project, I realized how much I miss painting. My day job as a freelance laser cutting artist and my own jewelry line don't leave me a lot of time for making art for fun, but the days where I made myself sit down and do a more complex painting were the days I was happiest with my work.

Doing these daily creativity projects has demonstrated my creative range and ability to stick with a long term project. In my personal life, it gave me a calm and pressure free way to start my day and get my brain flowing.

There were even few laser cut designs I created during this challenge that I'm definitely adding to my regular jewelry line. Since then I have been inspired to paint more, and work on more longterm daily projects even when I think I am too busy.

Check out more of Katie's work here.

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Creative Sprint makes the world a little smaller and a lot happier.

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Shelli Mosteller's Sprinter Story

I stumbled onto Creative Sprint after posting several of my Daily Creativity Journal/365 entries online. I was a little intimidated at first, because I’m not a visual artist. But I found my own way to spin things and had a great time. I did my most recent Creative Sprint during my busiest work season, when I’m in full production mode. It seemed like a crazy idea at first, but I wanted some non-work-related creative time where I could just play.

My absolute favorite day was Collaboration Day. The best part about Creative Sprint is connecting with people I might never have met and seeing the amazing things they do. To collaborate on fun projects with these new friends, some of whom live far away, is even better! I loved the ongoing conversations I had with sprinters all day, plotting and planning. I even got to make a sing-along video with a friend who lives in a different country. Such a positive, affirming day. And I learned something important--my favorite way to connect with people is by playing together. I think I knew that, but now I KNOW that. Creative Sprint makes the world a little smaller and a lot happier.

My most challenging day was the "Tear up something you made and make something new from the pieces" day. Most of my projects were temporary, so I didn't have a lot of stuff sitting around. What I did have was a cute little bird collaboration I did with two sprinters. It just sat on my kitchen table, looking at me. Tear it up? Do I have to? My day job requires me to tear down and repurpose designs and ideas all the time with my team. But we're usually in the same room and I can soften the blow with a cookie or something. I felt like a jerk, but I tore up that adorable bird and made a little heart. I apologized to my cohorts, who totally didn't mind and it ended up being somewhat of a second collaboration. Stay flexible, don't get too attached to the work. Check!

In my job as a Creative Arts Pastor, I plan, plan, plan. I plan every little detail I can imagine and I do it as far ahead as possible. I’m constantly living 3-6 months ahead in my mind. That’s impossible to do during a Sprint, because you have no idea what the prompt will be each day. What? No planning?? I decided to embrace it this time and work as quickly as I could, doing the prompt as soon as I read it, if possible. I thought it would drive me crazy. Guess what? It was actually pretty liberating. Surprise! Don’t overthink it.

My one piece of advice for a new sprinter is to enjoy the game. It’s supposed to be fun! We're playing a game together. We're not prepping for an exhibit at an art gallery. Well, maybe some people actually are and that's cool. But for the most part, we're playing a game that gently jiggles all the creative pieces around in our brains. Some sprinters make art for a living, others for fun. Some can draw and paint, others dance and write poetry. Some of us make things with googly eyes and styrofoam. Doesn't matter--everyone belongs. We all get to play and the most interesting part of the game is seeing what all these completely different minds come up with, using the same prompt. Don't compare, overthink, or fret. Just play. Everyone else will be very glad you did.

Creative Sprint opens my mind to trying new things without a huge fear of failure. The steady stream of daily prompts creates a readiness that trickles into other projects as well. It makes my brain more flexible. But the biggest impact the Sprint has on my life is that it helps create new friendships. I’m a people person. My daughter says that I approach life like a dog, where everyone is a potential friend. That may be true, because I love seeing the variety of artists and the array of projects they create. I love cheering them on and being amazed by their efforts. So the very best part about sprinting is making a new friend who builds robots, another who can sing the periodic table, one who finds faces everywhere, one who sprints with her kids, one who builds shacks, and on and on.

Creative Sprint for the win!

Find more of Shelli's work on Instagram and YouTube.

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