Optimum

Optimum is defined as the level where something is the most conducive to a favorable outcome. We are always searching and striving for the optimum level of whatever it is we are into at the time. We often associate this concept with athletics. They are the epitome of optimum and we see the results manifest themselves with being bigger, faster, stronger, etc… Find any sports highlight video snippet and you can see optimum at its finest.

We shouldn’t forget that optimum applies to all aspects of our lives as well. There is always an optimum value of all things. Keep in mind though that there is a drawback to optimum levels. Above that level, it becomes toxic and below that level it is deprived. Like calcium, water, or oxygen, there is an optimum quantity that each of us needs. Beyond that it is toxic and poisonous for us. Below that our bodies become deficient, which is just as bad.

Creativity is also subject to this natural law. I’m always striving to understand my own optimum levels of creativity. I used to think there can never be too much creativity. And, yet, I see the results of toxic levels of creativity–no common sense, overly stylized things, madness and obsession, etc… Also, on the deficient end of creativity–no spark of life, fear of trying new things, status quo, etc…

Being creative is an energy that we struggle to maintain our optimum levels with. Recognize your own levels. If you’re deficient, get inspired (recharge). If you’re toxic, then calm your mind (discharge). Stay creative at your most optimum levels and you’ll be surprised with the results.

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Ordinary

Everything we experience in this modern world is usually designed and concepted by someone’s imagination. From our buildings and transportation we conduct our lives in to the pencils and pens we always take for granted that give permanence to our thoughts. We live in a world of everyone’s imagination.

What’s amazing to think about is how incredibly ordinary the majority of our world is. The next time you flip through a newspaper or drive through a neighborhood, take a visual inventory of what you think is ordinary. You’ll find that ordinary exists and is multiplying. We start to blend in with everyone and everything—a slow death for any creative.

I wonder sometimes if there are mental and physical issues involved with the world of the ordinary. Creatives know how much they need to pull away from the ordinary. They’ve discovered how much they need to risk in order to be seen and heard. But the risks give way to an extraordinary life with beautiful insights—ask any fine artist, the ones who risk the most.

I often ask and plead with my students to show me things I’ve never seen before—an easy challenge but hard in its execution. This means they have to push themselves into their own storm of thoughts and have their own hero’s journey, which is very uncomfortable. The best are the ones that make it through their own mental storm—the ones that make it through the ordinary.

If you are not willing to risk the usual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.

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Music and Creativity

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In my design classes I always make it a point to play music when I’m not lecturing. The human brain needs stimuli in order for it to function. Whether it’s popular music or out of a person’s normal listening genre, music carries with it repetition, harmony, and the occasional interruption — shock therapy for the unsuspecting.

Design has an intrinsic relationship to music. They both have an interwoven capability of enhancing our senses. If we listen we can visualize and if we visualize we can create. I find it interesting how waveforms generated by music and sound amplifies our visual capabilities. Sound waves are energy that have resonance for those that are open to it.

We all are touched by music — we listen to it or we play it. Design and music seek to communicate and they help to fuel our emotions. So if you’re in a design rut, put on some Slipknot and I guarantee you’ll visualize something new!!!

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Batteries

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So I’m driving around Los Angeles looking for some retro clothing shops and I notice that our lives are starting to be governed by percentage bars — From the amount of gas left in our tanks to the amount of charge left on our mobile devices. How much time left to be connected and/or how much distance we can travel is dependent on our percentage bars. Then I remember posting on social media how everyone should keep their battery-dependent devices (usually lithium-ion based), humming between 40-80% of charge because too much or too little of a charge will stress out the battery and shorten its life. And every month to top it off at 100%.

I wonder if this works with our creativity as well. Shall our creative life be between 40-80% of our creative potential and top off our creativity every month. Does anything above 80% and below 40% stress us out and we suffer from creative burnout. Batteries are energy just like creativity. Shall we strive to increase our own creative battery life by not stressing it out? Hmmm… this could be a definite issue to investigate.

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