Learn How to Be Creative

You can train yourself to be creative Creativity allows you to open new sections of your mind, accept new ideas, and enables new thinking. It, allows us to appreciate new and different visions, mental ideas and aural meanderings. Luckily, you can take seeds of creativity and grow them into a large part of yourself.

If you have just stumbled on my blog you might not know that I’ve been in the creativity business a long time. I started selling machine embroidery designs in 1996. My marketing technique was to show people ways to use the designs. I’ve written magazine articles (when there were still magazines), and gave webinars (before YouTube flooded the internet with 45 second videos), and wrote a book*.

I’m often asked where I get my ideas and inspiration. The interesting thing is that I don’t think I’m all that creative. I don’t close my eyes and have artistic visions flash across my eyelids.  I don’t lay in the dark and see symphonies of colors and shapes dance across the room. Not once have I woken from a dream, grabbed a pencil, and scratched out a visual symphony. No, my creativity is much more mundane than that. My creativity comes in two versions:  “Would This Work?” and “That’s Beautiful, What Would It Look Like If…?”

“Would This Work?” could be called the “Too Stupid to Be Afraid” creativity technique. When this little sprite inhabits my body I spend time doing things that seem slightly possible. I’ll lay sheets of paper on fabric before spraying with dyes, then fill the spaces with stamped designs (a good experiment) or I put glue on rubber stamps, stamp it on fabric, and then sprinkle with glitter (a not-so-good experiment).  I’ve tried cutting up lace to put little pieces under my embroidery (a not-so-good thing) and I’ve tried spray dying on a stencil, lifting the stencil and turning it over to make a negative image (a good thing). The “Would This Work” version of creativity depends on accepting failure as well as recognizing success.

What if I tweaked a machine embroidered dress by adding rubber stamps.

The second creative muse is the “That’s Beautiful, What Would It Look Like If…?” form of creating. Another name for this might be, “With a Little Bit of Tweaking.” when I see something I admire, a little sprite whispers in my ear, ‘That’s beautiful but it would be even better if…’. Sometimes the ‘if’ is a different set of colors, sometimes it’s using the same basic shape in a different medium, it might require a shift in proportion or some other change.

The “That’s Beautiful… “ technique is the easiest to practice. You can do it whenever you see something you admire. Start thinking of the options. Can you take this idea, change it a little bit, and come up with something distinctly different? Can the sweeping line of a branch be duplicated in thread down the front of your jacket? After you put on the branch, could you add flowers?

If you are beginning an embellished top, can you use the “That’s Beautiful” technique to help you place your embellishments? First, sketch a line drawing of your top on a large piece of paper. Then, make paper cut-outs of each your embellishments. If you’re going to embroider stylized stars somewhere on your project, cut several stars the size and shape of your embroidery out of paper. If you’re going to use a leaf-shaped rubberstamp, cut out multiple copies of the last leaf shape. Do that for each of your embellishments. Simply arrange the shapes on the sketch of your top. Arrange and rearrange until you have something you like.

You can be creative: feed your mind new ideas, feed your eyes new visuals, find new experiences, visit new places. Look closer at the things in your usual route. Try new ways of doing things, find new ways to solve your own challenges.

Creativity is just a state of mind. Move into that state and touch your creative muse.

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