Don't underestimate the power of a simple idea

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Kimberly Begeal's Sprinter Story

The reasons I participate in Creative Sprint seem to change each time. I'm a "slightly seasoned" Sprinter since I've now joined in three times. The first time, April 2016, I was intrigued by just seeing how I would respond to a daily prompt.  The second time, October 2016, was because I had so much fun being part of a creative online community. This April 2017 Sprint, I joined to challenge myself to see what I could create in the shortest amount of time each day while remaining true to how I want things to look. The next time around I am finally going to try my hardest to finish the whole 30 days.

    My favorite day for the April 2017 Sprint was Day 10, be inspired by a poem. I was vacationing that week at the beach. In typical "Me" fashion, I had been collecting (hoarding) random shells because I liked the perfection of their imperfections. I placed two of them together and it was the beginning of a dress. A few more shells and a piece of plastic garbage I caught blowing around on the sand and there appeared Annabelle Lee by Edgar Allan less than 10 minutes of work.

    The most challenging day was definitely Day 7, use something sticky to create today. I was traveling in the car for the whole day so resources were limited.  I pulled a small piece of gum out of my mouth to play with while I thought.  There in front of me was the beginning of a teeny turtle using my gum. Working very small is hard for me because of a frustrating hand tremor,  but I was in a Creative Sprint frame of mind.  This brings with it a determination that helped me through something that would usually force me to do another project.

    Participating in Creative Sprint often brings out many surprising and unexpected things.  Perfect example, I was cleaning out my desk and was going to throw away a bag of very old rubber bands.  Instead, they turned out to be the perfect medium for creating a real fast and easy face for that day's prompt.  Never underestimate the usefulness of anything when you're doing Creative Sprint!

    Something new I tried in this last Sprint that I would incorporate into future work was using multiple pieces of the same kind of item into one creation. A habit of mine is to gather quite a few pieces of a type of something that I like, so I found it very gratifying to find a use for the shells, jewelry pieces, leaves, or decorative paper clippings (to name a few) that I have stashed. It wasn't even anything intentional while I was working on things. I just happened to notice a pattern this time when I looked back over my work.

    Of course, I highly recommend joining in on Creative Sprint.  If you are new to it, my advice is to Not Overthink!  Make friends with the first ideas that pop into your brain after reading that day's prompt. Then, simplify them if necessary.  Some of my favorite creations/posts are pieces I spent the least amount of time working on!

    Since joining in on the Creative Sprint process, I notice that I have highly improved my ability to not underestimate the power of a simple idea.  Much can be done with just starting something somewhere.  From now on I will not look back at my bad habit of dropping ideas I thought unworthy.  Instead, I'm looking forward to what will happen when I just press on with determination...Thanks Creative Sprint!

Find more of Kimberly's work on Instagram.

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It feels good belonging and participating in a community

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Jim Johns' Sprinter Story

Deciding to do the Creative Sprint was a big decision filled with all of the emotions that I would have on the first day of school. Excitement and anxiety over the unknown. How will I do? What will the assignments be like? Will the other kids like me?! But this wasn't compulsory. I could opt out! I decided to jump in because I wanted to stretch out of my comfort zone. I also wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. I am grateful that my wife and daughter were willing to join too.

Looking back on the Sprint, it's hard to pick a favorite day out of so many memorable experiences! One day does stand out. The prompt was "create something using an old map or something that ends up looking like a map." My wife was sitting on the floor flipping through an oversized hardback atlas. She was looking for inspiration and I saw the images upside down as I was walking in front of her. The upside down image of North America and Central America looked like a ridiculous creature. That was my favorite day because I still enjoy looking at the picture I made.

The most challenging day was when we were asked to create something inspired by another Sprinter. Oh, how I struggled to choose from so many talented Sprinters! Ultimately, I chose my daughter's Sprint pieces and tried to do something like her. It was late and trying to make an image of a bird using Elmer's glue was frustrating and humbling. It was so tempting to hold it back, or keep working on it until I liked it more. Reluctantly, I posted it and went off to bed. That is the beauty of the Sprint, and something first time Sprinters should know: The prompts and opportunities to create are there every day. Make the most of the day, take the prompt and create!

As the Sprint continued, I was surprised how quickly I felt supported by the online community of Creative Sprinters! It doesn't matter if it's being accepted at school or Creative Sprinters from around the world, it feels good belonging and participating in a community.

Looking ahead I want to continue working with prompts because they offer me a much needed daily practice and without the self-sabotaging expectation to create the coolest thing. Letting go of high expectations was liberating and allowed me to approach the Sprint with a sense of play.

The Creative Sprint was such a rewarding experience because it changed the way I view myself and my ability to create. It feels like I was able to make use of potential that was waiting to be tapped.

Find more of John's work on Instagram.

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Always looking for potential projects

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Rosanne Hansen's Sprint Story.

In December 2015, I discovered 365: A Daily Creativity Journal: Make Something Every Day and Change Your Life! by Noah Scalin. It is filled with daily prompts to help guide your artistic journey. I thought to myself, ‘you could do this; make art every day for a year.’ 

After completing my first Daily Creativity challenge in January 2017, Creative Sprint has given me guidance to continue my creative journey.

My favorite day of this Creative Sprint was Day 20: Make 5 of the same object and leave them behind for others to find. I really liked this challenge because it was an easy way to share my art with multiple people. I hid small origami balls around the school I work at and a few other places in town. It was fun to go back later and see which balls other people found.

My most challenging day was Day 28: Collaborate with a fellow Creative Sprinter. I was going to be out all day dress shopping, so I decided to collaborate with friends instead. We ended up making a zoo out of straw wrappers at lunch. The creation part also ended up being a challenge as straw wrappers are hard to work with when you have a limited supply.

The most surprising thing that happened this month was that I only kept five of the projects for myself. During my Creative Marathon up to this point, I had kept nearly every project, as I looked back over my posts from this Creative Sprint, I realized that I had disposed of, eaten, or given away most of my projects. This turned out to be a great surprise for me; less to store!

I tried a few new things this month, but the one that stands out to me the most that I would like to try again is galaxy egg painting. Rather than dying eggs the traditional way, I painted an egg using a paint brush and food coloring. I loved how it turned out and can't wait to try it again.

My biggest piece of advice is to stick with it and share your work. Making a project everyday may be frustrating at times but the compliments you get from sharing your work are worth the frustration.

The Creative Sprint experience has caused me to be more aware of my surroundings, always looking for potential projects. It has also encouraged me to branch out and try new things.

Find more of Rosanne's work on Instagram

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I Need to Create. Daily. Period.

Michele Ports Gargiulo's Sprinter Story

I decided to take part in Creative Sprint when a artist and gallery owner friend posted about it. Sounded fun and I had never done anything like this before!

My favorite days were the use something sticky, spirit animal, and recreate a favorite piece of art.

The most challenging day was the collaboration day, because I worked and couldn't get to it until late, so I used my one dogs as my Sprint collaboration partner.

The most surprising thing was to be featured on the Creative Sprint Instagram. It was really motivating and exciting!!

The thing I did that I'll continue to do is draw everyday, sometimes I would be 'too busy', but I am a artist. I need to create. Daily. Period.

I would tell whoever wants to complete a Creative Sprint to dive in! Have fun! Try new things!

I think the Sprint definitely freed me up somewhat; and to get feedback (and likes!) from other artists was just the best. I feel more confident with my art- so thank you for that!

See more of Michele's work on Instagram

Make some stuff you're proud of in just one day.

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Carrie Donovan's Sprinter Story

I went to a talk by Noah Scalin at Louisville, KY's AIGA chapter in March, and heard him talk about Creative Sprint and encourage people to sign up on the website. I signed up thinking that I might as well get the emails, but I really wasn't sure that I'd do it. I started with Day 1, again, not sure I'd keep up with it. But I'm so glad I did! I got hooked.

I think the first day was my favorite, because I had this rush of "oh wow! I just made something!" I didn't spend a lot of time on that day's project, and it was really satisfying. (I later ended up spending much longer on future days, which was also good, but very different).

Day 23 (Make something inspired by all the places your shoes have been) was a challenge because I got stuck. I didn't have a good idea, and I'd been a little behind on the prompts for a couple of days. Finally I ended up making some typography out of Legos (inspired by the experience of stepping on Legos—ouch!). The end result ended up being one of my favorite things I made during Creative Sprint.

I got to collaborate with Mica Scalin, who wrote the book on Creative Sprint! Honestly, I hesitated a little bit to reach out to her because she helped start the whole thing! But she responded yes! And wanted to collaborate with me on Day 28. I've learned this many times in life, and I learned it again—it never hurts to ask.

I have been wanting to experiment with motion graphics, and I was able to try a few simple projects in AfterEffects as well as some stop motion animation projects. That is something I want to keep doing. I also started a map project based on the Washington, D.C. area where I grew up (on Day 15) that I intend to continue.

As an artist or designer, you already know how to make good work.  But you might be surprised that you can actually make some stuff you're proud of in just one day.

I do continue to feel inspired and confident knowing that making things isn't as hard as I sometimes make it out to be.

Find more of her work on Instagram.

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if the police take me away, call mom and let her know

I parked our car by the side of the road and got out. “Wait here and if the police take me away, call mom and let her know,” I told my daughter. She giggled and I walked down the road with my staple gun. A minute later I came back to the car. “Let’s drive around the corner and look at it,” I said. We drove around the corner and there it was - day 12 of CreativeSprint - my cardboard tree limb stapled to a telephone pole in a defiant act of public art - just Another Limited Rebellion. 

Starting April 1st, 2015, I signed up for the CreativeSprint hosted by Another Limited Rebellion. Noah Scalin described the CreativeSprint as a month long program designed to “get your creative muscles into shape.” Each day in April we created a small creative response to an assignment handed out by Mica Scalin every morning at 8:00 via email.

Now that it’s over, I look back on photos of a body of work that was nonexistent a month ago. Some of the originals are gone, washed away, melted, eaten, faded or collapsed. The important parts still live on because the experience of completing one daily act of creative problem solving  left me with so much more than photos.

During these 30 days of ALR’s CreativeSprint, my kids experienced this creative therapy along with me. It’s important for kids to see their parents act like kids too. Playful acts should not die with maturity. As we get older we must fight negative forces that try to convince us things aren’t possible. Practices like the CreativeSprint unlock the natural creativity spirit which has been beaten down through years of public education, a process that pounds us all into standardized zombie workers.

But the CreativeSprint did more than make me think like a kid again. The experience also enhanced my professional life, not only by reminding me that these creative jumpstarts are invaluable, but only reminding me that collaboration is the secret sauce for the creative process.

Creativity is simply problem solving and everyone can solve a problem. This means we’re all naturally creative. Because we’re all naturally creative, we also possess a high degree of collaborative spirit. I've learned that I can’t do it by myself, and the solutions we create together are more effective in filling the gap of unmet needs for customers.

Today that cardboard tree limb is still on the telephone pole outside my neighborhood. We check on it each time we drive out. Now it’s changed. Beaten by wind and rain, it hangs like wet noodles looking more like a soggy octopus than a tree limb.

So with 30 solutions in 30 days I learned that it’s the small stuff that counts. Woody Allen once said, “80% of life is just showing up.” He’s right. Once you show up you're more than halfway there. Problem solving starts with one small step. Sometimes you don’t need to know where you’re going. Just take that step and something good will happen.


Archie Miller (AKA @archiemiller)

Team Manager, Interaction Design CarMax

Creative Sprint let the best version of myself take control

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Why did you decide to do Creative Sprint?

I think it’s important to be vulnerable in order to grow as a person, and especially as an artist. Letting folks in on my rapid prototypes is really good for iteration and evolving ideas to the next level. Feedback is awesome, and to receive it, you have to make stuff for people to react to. Creative Sprint is in the spirit of creating output and sharing at all phases, not just at the point where you might call something your masterpiece. And that’s really freeing.

What was your greatest achievement during Creative Sprint?

To me, Creative Sprint has been about mustering the courage to be the art, accepting unconditionally the expression made as a living filter of reality.

I was at a dinner party on a Gramercy rooftop mid­-sprint, and I watched myself, as if from above, setting up photo shoots for my newly-crafted gold eyeglass frames (part of that days task), over conversation and drinks. This was not normal behavior around people in politics and academia, yet it felt like the most natural way to behave because I was on a mission. Nobody else found it odd either—they saw my creating as naturally as I had. It was a big learning moment to be able to be my creative self very transparently and unapologetically and to experience no repercussions.

These 30 days have been a kind of realignment I’ve only otherwise gotten from yoga, meditation, or days spent in the woods/ on the road. I could see over the weeks that Creative Sprint actually let the best version of myself take control. I’ve improved in every other aspect of my work. Ideas that came to me during meetings were more relevant to the context, I collaborated more efficiently, communicated more clearly.

What is your biggest learning from the month?

With ever increasing collaborative challenges each day of the Creative Sprint, my output became more effective at creating moments to interact, play, laugh, and think differently together.

This was important for me to learn through doing, as it echoed my Design for Social Innovation grad work at the School of Visual Arts, where I’ve had to learn a lesson about not losing sight of the fact that my work is better when it is not the end, but the means to the end: a way to form connection, empathy, and understanding between people.

How will you apply that learning going forward?

Collaboration is the answer. Creative Sprint provided unique constraints each day, which incrementally edged more towards co-­creation and learning together.

We artists sometimes get the urge to stay in our heads. But ideas only get better when we can get them out in the world in a sharable format, a draft to be iterated upon. When we take ideas outside of us and put them out there, we can share them, and get feedback. And the more kinds of audiences we try that with the better the next version can be. 

Margarita Korol AKA urbanpopartist

Design for Social Innovation MFA, School of Visual Arts, NYC

Production Manager at Adapt Lab Productions

After the first few days I noticed something.

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When I got pregnant I grieved for what I was certain was the end of my creative time.

We all know that kids, especially babies are time suckers, so when I read about April's Creative Sprint I defaulted to "I'm a new mum. I don't have time for this". But the idea kept eating at me and I thought, let me just see if I can squeeze some of this into my diaper changing-spit up-rocking back to sleep-baby consumed day. What I discovered shocked me. The artist in me was not gone in fact, it was coming back with a vengeance. First, I found the time, small slivers of my day for both planning/free-associating time (while rocking the baby to sleep or breast feeding) and actual time (like right after i put him down to sleep). I did my first creative sprint at 3:30 am after feeding the baby.

 After the first few days, I noticed something. Ideas where coming to me. Ideas that had nothing to do with Creative Sprint. Ideas for plays, scenes, poetry, sketches, even jokes. Yep, jokes. And (this surprised me more) I was coming up with solutions for things. Small functional things, like better ways to clean and dry the bottle nipples, and things that may simulate and calm the baby. He's not much of a sleeper and prior to Creative Sprint i was exhausted and stuck about what to do. I can easily say that doing creative sprint actually takes away sleep time so i know my ideas weren't coming from being more rested. Its like a it triggered a part of my brain that saw possibilities... both creative and functional. 

I loved posting on social media, for both the accountability, the boost, the inspiration and the challenge. Seeing the work of the other sprinters made me up my ante. It also make me procrastinate less. Half way into the month I noticed my inner perfectionist came out to play but seeing other sprinters throwing whatever they could that day for that challenge up on the internet, inspired me to do the same. 

I loved doing creative sprint. I can honestly say as a new mother and an artist, I needed this desperately. 

Emma Gordon

Founder, Science Baby