Showing posts with label Creativity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Creativity. Show all posts

Thursday, June 25, 2015


Christoph Neimann.

This is wildly imaginative stuff. Call me a fool, but I thought the bottom image was an actual camera.

See more here.

Thursday, June 18, 2015



In San Francisco news, I recently saw the play Ondine at Sutro Baths, next to the Ocean. The play chronicles the love between a mystical ocean creature and a knight. It takes place in the open air next to the water, and you get to move from setting to setting along with the cast. It's freezing and wonderful.

These aren't pictures from the play itself. But in between location changes, cast members drape themselves artfully into the landscape for you to walk watch and admire. They also serve you meringues. It's one of the most unique experiences I've had in a good while.  

More information here.


Thursday, May 21, 2015


I found this on a blog that isn't in English, but the use of lighting here transcends language. I'm not sure what the tea kettle is doing on the stove - that may be a bad idea and I don't support it, but right up above the stove are industrial lamps, drilled into the wooden beams, which is a cheap and inexpensive way to get light just where you want it.   

Read the full story (using Google Translate) here.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


“There is a sensitivity and identity to my work that emphasizes the function, the material and the detail. I transport and interpret characteristics from various contexts of society and culture and implement them in new artifacts. This character infuses the most everyday objects with respect and personality. In this manner, seemingly contrary things can experience esteem."
- Sebastian Herkner
Sebastian Herkner was born in 1981 in Bad Mergentheim. He studied product design at the HfG Offenback am main (Offenback University of Art and Design), focusing on objects and furniture that merged varying cultural contexts, combining technology with traditional craftsmanship.

He creates the kind of furniture that would only belong in the home of my darkest fantasies, where I have dedicated my life to the accumulation of beautiful objects at the cost of liberty and sanity and live in a state of perpetual anxiety-woven bliss wedded to inevitable financial ruin.

Read more here and here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


If I tried to do this myself with my limited skills, it would probably involved double sided tape. But it's a novel idea. It's interesting, like creating a geometric maze in your home. Practically speaking, this may involve payment rather than DIY. But there is probably someone out there in the universe thinking: I wonder if Lowes carries that type of pipe...

Monday, July 28, 2014


Kites from below
View from below
There are certain things you conveniently forget ever exist. Kites, for instance. I had forgotten that there were such things. So passing by Kite Day over the weekend, I received a reminder. And then another. Followed by octopi.

Kites above Kite watch Kites up high

Wednesday, July 23, 2014



So this is my private, not so secret obsession: creativity, and how to nurture it. Or, to put it more bluntly, how can I get my muse to appear when I need her? 

Creativity comes in many forms. You can see it expressed most obviously in the arts, but also in novel scientific approaches, inventions, or the kind of thinking that diverges from the norm. What if you were to study this process, steadily over time, in people who have been able to channel their creativity to achieve great levels of success? Would a pattern emerge? 

This is precisely what Nancy Andreasen has done, in her article Secrets of the Creative Brain. She monitored participants' REST: Random Episodic Silent Thoughts, which are periods of free association. In doing so, she found that 
"almost all of my subjects confirmed that when eureka moments occur, they tend to be precipitated by long periods of preparation and incubation, and to strike when the mind is relaxed - during that state we called REST."

What is it that the mind is doing during REST? Andreasen's theory is that the mind is making subconscious connections, knitting together random bits of information into a comprehensive whole. The creative mind, as opposed to the non-creative, is exceptionally good at this process. Andreasen theorizes that  
"creative people are better at recognizing relationships, making associations and connections, and seeing things in an original way - seeing things that others cannot see."

However, as a caveat, "not all of these connections actually exist." 

In practice, the characteristic that a successful creative needs to truly thrive, is persistence. When you create something that is entirely novel, you are going against the grain of what has gone before, and this will be met automatically with skepticism. To succeed, you need to have an inherent belief in your work. You need to continue to push forward in the face of contention, and to meet resistance with perseverance. 

I'm paraphrasing, of course. The article goes into far greater depth than what I've written. I just picked out some titillating items, but you can read the full piece Here. I highly recommend it. 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


The Rock's View

So here's a new chapter. 

I'm requesting and accepting submissions to be published on this blog, because I like to know about people and what they do. If you've ever talked to someone about what they love, it's like the best kind of disease, because when they open up, they release a creative spark, and if yours happens to be dim at the moment, you can catch something. I believe that enthusiasm is contagious and indiscriminate, and in the same way that you follow, say, Tolstoy's daily habits and learn something, you can do that same with your peers.


So here goes:

Submissions should answer the following questions, but these can change according to topic:

Who or what inspires you? 
This is for picture purposes.

What are you passionate about doing? 
This can be writing, drawing, travel, or anything really, as long as it genuinely drives you. 

How do you express this passion or interest? 
Pretty simple really: if you like to paint, what do you paint?

How do you stay inspired? 
Short burst of passion are commonplace, but it's the long term commitment, the every day dedication that is hard. What do you do to keep that interest alive? What is the day to day process? 

I'm going to put this request in the header bar, and see what happens.

Send an email over to

Monday, May 5, 2014


This is a very good talk by Brene Brown, author of Daring Greatly. I think everyone should watch this - and if you are feeling a bit down - then you should watch it more than once.  

It's a little long, but not a moment of the time is wasted. There are a lot of really great quotes. A lot. If you create, sooner or later, you have to put yourself out there, and that will probably leave you vulnerable. If you want to learn how to deal with this, take a look, take a listen. Repeat.  

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Steady and methodical. That's what these maps make me think of. Sometimes, when you look at a piece of art, you can see the process laid out for you. What I see is a steady series of very precise movements. The effect is strangely calming. For me, at least. 

Karen O'Leary cuts each map by hand, and sells them on Etsy. They're beautifully done. Precise. Geometric wonders. 


Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Design Files
Occasionally on my daily troll, I come across a space that breaks all rules of convention. This is the Melbourne home of Joost Bakker, a man known for creating large scale public works and vertical gardens. If I could divert your eye to the chair on the ceiling? Then you notice that the ceiling is made from wood plank. Then in another room, you see the lamp dropping down. This is the best use of ceilings I have seen in a long time. You can find more pictures on Design Files

Monday, March 31, 2014


Door Reflection

On a sunny day, you've been ringing the doorbell to your friend's apartment for a good ten minutes. There's been no answer. Turning to leave, you notice a white car parked perpendicularly across the way. What catches your eye is the pattern of water against the door, it moves with the breeze. But there has been no rain. As you look at the door, a shape emerges. You move in closer, to inspect. What do you find?

Friday, March 28, 2014


Do you believe in the existence of an internal compass? It's the closest thing to a writer's spirituality - you have to have faith that it exists, without any physical proof. You just have to believe, because without it, you have no guide, no point of reference, just options. There are too many options, or none. To make a choice, you have to believe sometimes, that you know what you're doing, you have to trust in your creative instincts, and set aside the doubt.

Monday, March 17, 2014


There is a mental audience inside every writer, every artist, every person that creates. This is something that I believe exists, like a literary Santa Claus. I think it's a part of human nature to create an audience, and this…is a problem.

Ever pandered to an audience? It's reflexive. They like something, you give them more. They don't like it, you stop. Cause and effect. Here's what my mental audience is like: it fluctuates a lot - sometimes it's people I know, sometimes members of my family, sometimes it's co-workers, and sometimes it's just a mass of faceless strangers, but the quality they have in common, is that they are complete @$$holes. If you've read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, I believe she referred to a radio station running through her head called K-F*cked. You see where I'm going with this?

The easiest way to keep writing, to keep going, is to clear the audience out. That's why I emphasize simplicity. That's what I got from the Dalai Lama talk.* So you don't write while considering what other people will think, you choose your one goal (singular), and move towards it. You screen everything else out. I like the quote above: your goal is to create beauty, and no one else matters. The clearer the mind, the easier the goal is to reach. 

* The Dalai Lama post on Happiness, where he distilled happiness into really simple ideas: focusing on others, being part of a community. And you're done. If you meet him, he's one happy guy. 

Monday, February 24, 2014


Italian dog

I have a friend, a good friend, who I consider mainstream in her tastes. She only watches romantic comedies and reads chicklit or romance novels, a lot of them by Danielle Steel.  She can deviate from her preferences - we've had deep discussions about Game of Thrones, which is not a romance by any stretch of the imagination - and she can discuss football like a man. However, she knows what she likes and isn't tempted by anything else. This is how I have traditionally perceived the notion of having a book "type." But, what if this is too simple?

I've been thinking about "types" a lot recently, starting from this post, where I rambled about how following the main character was ruining the experience of the book for me. There was nothing wrong with the book itself, but the crucial choice of main character didn't work for me. I didn't like him. What I have come to realize is that one of the most useless bits of feedback you can receive is "I didn't like it," with no explanation. So I decided to delve.  

According to my own diagnosis, I don't discriminate across genres: sci-fi (don't gravitate towards it, but won't turn it away if it looks good); mystery (great sense of plot); romance (emotionally engaging and complex; funny); books about family (a look into someone else's life you would otherwise not get); etc. However, if you've been around the literary block a few times, there are certain types characters who, if sketched broadly enough, will be familiar to you. You've seen this type before, and when you encounter them again, you get a sense of déjà vu

In a book I read recently, I recognized a type of character, let's call him the "T" type, as someone I had read before, over the course of a number of other novels. My reaction to T was visceral: I couldn't stand him. It was borderline irrational. When I see T again, I hate him even more. Why? 

Here is my definition of the T type character: a spectator in his own life, he reacts rather than takes action, he is constantly victimized, his defining feature is that he is sensitive and/or delicate, the plot progresses as a series of personal tragedies, and most importantly, he does not grow or change, he simply survives. This, in general, is the story of T. 

To be really specific, here is why I don't like the T type narrator: he suffers constantly, and to be around him means that you get to suffer too. Suffering isn't bad, it's an opportunity to grow, develop, and overcome, and then the journey of the novel is worth it. For a good example of this, see Life After Life. However, and this is key, T does not grow, does not overcome. Things happen. T stays the same, all the way to the end, and I beside him, suffer. T lets people take advantage of him. I feel miserable. Then he does it again. 

Through the haze of misery that being with T created, it occurred to me that while I don't have a specific type of literary genre that I prefer, I have a character type, or an anti-type that I avoid like the plague, because it guarantees a miserable experience. Sometimes, people like knowing that the focus of the story is a romance, or a mystery, but for the General Fiction category, the stories that do not fall effortlessly into categories, it might be a specific character type that holds or destroys your interest. This is my working theory. 

What are some other character types? I'm going to throw out a few generalizations: the flighty female, the methodical scientist, the bland everyman or everywoman or girl-next-door.* I could go on. When looking at your audience, the pattern into their heart may not necessarily be by approaching through specific genres, but by specific Character Types. You can be known not for your Thrillers, but for your character type, a type you vary a little bit each time, across genres, across countries, across space and time. But the character remains true.

*Not to be confused with the Playboy Playmate reality show. 

Monday, January 20, 2014


walking through trees

You are walking along a dirt path, following the long line of a man. He trails in front of you. He cannot see you. You weave along the shadows of trees until the path opens into a clearing. What now?

Thursday, December 12, 2013


"Be brave enough to live creatively. The creative is the place where no one else has ever been. You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You cannot get there by bus, only by hard work, risking and by not quite knowing what you are doing. What you will discover will be wonderful; yourself."
- Alan Alda

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


Image Via
So, I like to take photographs, you know, because it reflects reality through the filter of my lens. The camera is a way to see the world through my eyes. I also like to have an imagination, which is a colorful place, frequently surreal, and which I touch upon to tell stories. Never the two shall mix.

Then I came across JeeYoung's photography, and she quietly blew that distinction to hell. These are actual photographs that she takes, of settings that she has created. In real life. When reality isn't photogenic enough, she takes the time to bend it to her will. There's a lesson in there somewhere. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Well, hello there, Bed. These images are from actor Vincent Kartheiser's home, as profiled in Dwell magazine. The style here is Japanese industrial, and that first shot is of Kartheiser pulling his bed down from the ceiling. That wooden slab in the background there? It's the headboard. When the bed is up, the slab folds down to become a desk. That's right: a desk.  

To offset the weight of the bed, there is a 300 lb. weight hidden away somewhere, in a way that is built into the cabin. There are so many different ideas going on here (Red as an accent color anyone?), I don't even know where to point (Red curtain??). It's all just too good. It baffles and astounds me. I have no words. Look and enjoy.* 

* Okay, one small final point. This cabin was designed by Funn Roberts. How did this creativity happen? As Kartheiser puts it: "Funn is an artist, he's going to do his best work if he's trusted. You trust the artist and you don't micromanage him." There, all done.

Monday, November 18, 2013


This series from photographer Denise Grunstein caught my eye recently. It looks like the good part of a dream. Everyone carries an idea in their head of what the world they've created looks like. I know I do. The world I create is always different from the world I observe - it's an enhancement. The colors are stronger, and objects more meaningful, or are possibly a plot device to be referenced later. Grunstein captures that unreal quality here. It's reality, but better kind.

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