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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Put my imagination to such good use

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I was somewhat unsure and leery of how I would complete each task when I began the Creative Sprint. I think I felt this way because the challenge required that I use a skill I normally do not use…my imagination. However, after a few days, I got into the rhythm as I became more confident in my creative-self. 

I found I could spend time with my family as well as accomplish a creative task. I told my family about the Creative Sprint challenge and asked that they give me their input on Day 18- take a walk outdoors and create something using exclusively the material you find along the way. To help get everyone’s creative juices flowing, we went for an evening walk and I explained to them what I was looking for. Everyone was excited and we collected various objects that we found interesting. After walking for an hour, we gathered around in the garage and analyzed everything that we collected. After careful thought and two hours of hard work, we had a picture. I could not have done all of this by myself, it was a team effort. We had created something wonderful and everyone was happy. We decided that we would continue to do similar fun projects together as a family. Now instead of watching a movie on Netflix, we engage in these type of activities which binds our family closer together.

Anyone who knows me can tell you that the kitchen is not my favorite place to hang out. When I opened my email on Day 20 and saw the challenge of the day, create using only materials you find in a kitchen, I was completely unsure how I was going to complete it. As I frantically searched through the refrigerator and cabinets, I received a text which contained an emoji. At that moment, I was pulling out a box of rice and setting it on the counter when it hit me! I knew what I was going to do. I decided to create emojis out of food products (e.g., rice, lentils). I would have never imagined that something like this could have been done if not for the Creative Sprint challenge.   

Creative Sprint, awakened a part of me that I did not know I had, with so much energy and zeal. Now, when I feel tired or frustrated, I start working on a creative activity which allows me to relax. It makes feel as though a lot of weight has been taken off of me. Who knew that I could put my imagination to such good use just by giving me a daily task?

Rajsekhar Ganne

EMBA Student, Senior Manager for Capital One in Commercial Banking


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Smaller and imperfect aren't bad things


At first glance, Creative Sprint can appear like a simple art project. But after completing it for myself, I have learned, if used properly, the Creative Sprint can expand your way of thinking on a daily basis. 

On the second day of my Creative Sprint the prompt was to use your name as inspiration for what you create. This immediately inspired me because family is a topic that I am extremely passionate about. In search of what my game plan was for this particular prompt, I came across a photo of my family castle in Scotland. From the angle, I just saw my surname emerging from the lines of the castle wall. I imported this image into editing software and drew in the lines so I could share the same vision that I saw. I did not have advanced software or skilled hands to draw a straight line, so I used a ruler with a stylus. I had to set aside my perfectionist desire and accept my limitations. Once it was completed, I shared it via social media. I was so proud that several of my family members loved it; one even utilizing it as his desktop background. Two days into the Creative Sprint, and I already felt incredible!

I have learned that I actually get much better results when I throttle back on my perfectionist personality. Once that expectation has been curbed, I was able to actually produce better content when I wasn’t busy burying myself in the details. Smaller and imperfect aren’t bad things.

In my personal hobbies, this has allowed me to create better and more realistic model kits. I can now make a blemish intentional, or turn something bad into something amazing. Though, on a more humbling note, I have indeed learned to embrace limitations and accept other people’s help. It isn’t logical for me to assume I can do everything perfectly myself. Thankfully, the Creative Sprint was more than just an art project, it was an eye-opening experience. 

- Stephen MacNeil, VCU School of Business EMBA & Support Analyst, Century Distribution Systems, Inc.

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Rejuvenated an aspect of uninhibited fun

Creative Sprint allowed me to be inventive, forced me to think differently than I’m accustomed to in my day-to-day life, and rejuvenated an aspect of uninhibited fun that I had abandoned.

Seeing everyone else’s interpretation of each day’s challenge alleviated some of the pressure I was feeling to be perfect and go above and beyond each day.  Some days it was hard to think of something.  Some days it was hard to think of something new and different.  Some days it was hard to fit it in and prioritize it.

One of my favorite Creative Sprint exercises was to recreate a famous work of art in your own way. I’m not sure how, but Andrew Wyeth’s “Christina’s World” came to mind.  I studied the painting in an art history class during undergrad and have seen it at the MOMA before.  It’s one of those paintings that’s often described as “haunting” and seems to stay ingrained in one’s memory.  I recreated the painting, with myself as the subject, in my own environment- in a “field” (i.e. grassy median) in front of my own home.  There’s more allure in the original than mine, but the contrast of rural 1940s to more urban twenty-first century is a fascinating juxtaposition.

The Creative Sprint was a terrific exercise as it allowed me to tap into my creativity and devote time to channeling creative thought at least once every day for the month.  It allowed me to let go of perfection and pre-conceived notions, and to interpret the exercises how I wanted to express them.  Once I realized that there was no right or wrong, and embraced the materials in my immediate surroundings, I was able to formulate the stories in my own way, with my own voice.  

Since the end of October, I’ve continued to look for inspiration in my environment and be encouraged by those around me.  It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and same-old same-old, and I’m trying to remember the creativity I tapped into during the Creative Sprint.  I think I learned that anyone can be and is creative; sometimes it just requires some coaxing, repetition, and attention.

Sarah Crews

EMBA student, Finance Manager

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My mind was opened to endless possibilities


With the Creative Sprint, the prompts gave me the inspiration to make art every day. I studied freehand drawing as a teenager, and I truly love it, but as the years have gone by, I've made less and less time for creating art in my daily life. I still think of myself as a creative person on the inside, but without an outlet, my mind wasn't as free as others who I see making art a part of their daily life. They see potential in everyday items. That's what I wanted to see. And with Creative Sprint, my mind was opened to endless possibilities.

My favorite part was seeing what all the Sprinters came up with for each prompt. There are so many people around the country and the world working in so many different media - pen and ink, clay, water color, blackout poetry, needle felt, spilled salt! Sprinters really were "making everything art." It's amazing to see the creativity, and it made me excited for each new challenge. I liked trying a lot of different techniques inspired by the other sprinters' work.

I involved my daughter in a lot of the projects, or at least let her watch me work. She's nearly four years old. It changed our life because it got her excited about art. Now, she is constantly saying, "I want to do art projects." and "I love art projects." Having the opportunity to instill a lifelong love and appreciation of art in my child (or any child) is priceless.

Melissa MacClean

Sales Support Manager- Foodservice & Industrial, Dole Packaged Foods

To see more of Melissa's work go to @mbramos03

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A little less selfish


I participated in the Creative Sprint as a member of the Virginia Commonwealth University Executive MBA Class of 2017. Noah Scalin spent a day with our class at the beginning of this Fall semester educating us on how to spark one's creative spirit and why this makes sense for business people.  

When he said “You have 40 minutes to make 30 things…Go”, I had no idea that Noah had just sent us on what was to be the beginning of a wonderful journey. As we all frantically scrambled around the room to create something in 40 minutes...out of thin air...the excitement and pressure was palpable. We were trying to be creative? In an MBA program? He also encouraged us to take risks, try something new, let go of the preciousness of things that we would normally keep dear and near to our hearts...and once I signed up for Creative Sprint I couldn’t wait to get started.

My life became a little less selfish for 30+ days. I typically tend to focus on the things that are right in front of me: my children, my household and my job. Every day during Creative Sprint I forced myself to think about how I could creatively help someone else. How could I take an artistic theme, convert it into a way to give and represent that action in a visually interesting manner. 

Each day that I woke up before 7 a.m., I could not wait to see what prompt Mica Scalin would email for the day. The anticipation of the unknown was refreshing. I tend to plan for things in advance and not knowing where the Sprint would take me each day was exciting.

The prompt for Day 3 made me just giggle with joy; make something inspired by a children's song. I created a fun bag for my Toys for Tots donations with an Edelweiss flower (in honor of the song my mom sang to me at night as a kid). 

Overall I was very pleased that I was able to complete this challenge. I went into it knowing that I could not easily sustain that level of giving on a daily basis (at least not right now) but hoped to find one or two charities with which I could develop a lasting relationship. And I did! If I can give for 31 days straight, I can find time and/or money to donate at least one once or twice a month on a regular basis!

Laverne A. Benton

Mom, Executive MBA Student & Banking Solutions Analyst

Find more of her work on her blog

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a different relationship with the idea of failure

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When I first joined Creative Sprint I was at a place in my life where even though I technically worked in the "Creative" department at an agency, my work was not creative. I felt stagnant. And bored. So I accepted the challenge. At first I was extremely stressed out - what if I make something and its total crap and I put it out there for everyone to see. But over time my perspective changed. When the 2nd one came around I was ever more stoked because I had so much fun with the first one  - this third one i made it a goal not to miss any of the 30 days

For someone obsessed with process work and the "fail faster" mindset I was extremely high strung about showing anything that I didn't feel great about. But I've come to find that some of the things I have created that I was unsure about end up being other participants favorite pieces. Some of them lead me into other projects, and some of them just stand alone as a testament to the time I burnt a tortilla and decided to make it into art.

A blank canvas is extremely intimidating. Psychology even shows that when humans have unlimited choices it makes us completely miserable. Having direction and boundaries helps push me to problem solve using the supplies I have with the time I have. I also LOVE seeing what all the other participants come up with within the same parameters. There are always a wide range of interpretations.

I love seeing what all the other Creative Sprint participants come up with every day and both getting and giving feedback. I also love the dialogue it creates with people I know in my personal/ professional life who see the stuff I am creating daily and want to try it but are afraid. I hear a lot of " I don't know if I could do that..." to which I generally respond "YOU CAN". It doesn't matter what you make, just make. It's so much about the process.

This experience has really affected my creative work in profound ways. I've gone from having a half assed creative process to pushing myself to try new things on a regular basis, and sharing my work within the local art community. 

The biggest take away is that I have a different relationship with the idea of failure. If I make something and its great, AWESOME! If I make something and it sucks, AWESOME! Otherwise fear is gonna keep you from ever getting started and a year from now you will wish you did. 

Ashley Berkman, Multi-media Artist

For more of Ashley's work, visit her Instagram 


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A whole new way

There were days when it was very difficult to make myself sit down and create (such as my 11-hour work days), but holding myself accountable to spending at least 2 minutes of creating something on those days made me realize that art can be whatever I make. Not so much realize as have faith in my abilities to create; It affected my confidence in being an artist. It especially affected my confidence in the arena of drawing what I see, which has never been my strong suit.

I so enjoyed the whole experience that it's hard to pick a favorite part. The day we had to pick something from that day in history really blew me away. The story I chose ended up being so much more intense and involved than I expected. I was glad to know the story, and very emotional making my art to go with it, and I got to exercise my ability in drawing from a picture. I also enjoyed the day that I got to bring something I had made with me and take pictures of it everywhere I went. The piece I chose held a lot of emotion for me. I needed that time with it. Another favorite for me was taking a five minute walk and making something with what I found. Very challenging to walk with no destination in the city. There is lots of growth in the ground where I left my art, and I like to think my art had something to do with that.

The experience made me more confidant in my abilities- seeing how many people enjoyed it helped, too. I see things in a whole new way. It made me feel grounded.

Tammy Ray

Art Museum Security Guard

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