Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Muse is In: An Owner's Manual to Your Creativity

Hello creative souls!

I want to share with you a book that immediately captured my attention with its colourful and playful look.

The Muse is In: An Owner's Manual for Your Creativity by Jill Badonsky

The Muse is In
And it's not just the cover that attracts the eye with its bright fun images. Every single page of the book is carefully illustrated to the smallest detail. You know right away that this book is about creativity. Its pages are filled with fun images and useful advice. Jill Badonsky addresses various artist's roadblocks, such as fears, insecurities, confusions, frustrations, etc., that hinder one's creativity and offers "Troubleshooting Directions" or ways to overcome those feelings. 

Here are some of my favourite points the author makes in her explorations of creativity:
  • The arts might not be a way to make a living but they make up life and, as I personally feel, make life worth living.
  • Being in a creative flow makes you physically healthy.
  • Creative people are more interesting and magnetic than the rest. (Although everybody gets to be creative).
  • Daydreaming is a valid part of a creative process.
  • Procrastination is a form of punishing yourself. (Not to be confused with daydreaming!)
  • Taking really small steps and lowering one's expectations of oneself (to 60% from the usual 200%) lowers the pressure and eliminates the internal resistance.
  • "Perfection is spelled PARALYSIS." - Winston Churchill
  • Thinking of your creative endeavour in the time between activities counts as being creative.
  • "Being absurd can transport one's mind out of the mundane and the trip can refresh a brain into seeing beyond the habitual."
  • It's better to be absurd in your actions than to be inactive! (My personal favourite!)

Many more gems of advice are hidden in between the colourful pages of this Manual. The beauty of this book is that you don't have to read it in sequence. If you are feeling stuck you can just open up a random page and find a tip which just might get you moving. Try it! Let me know what you think.

To being creatively absurd, inspired and enthused!

Friday, November 29, 2013

"Fashion Obsession" Discharge Dye Fabric Design

Hello creative souls!

Today I want to show you the fabric pattern that I designed recently. It was my first time using discharge dying technique. Discharge dying is a process of removing dye from fabric with the help of discharge paste. It is basically the opposite of dying. Various methods can be used to create designs on the fabric's surface: shibouri, stenciling, stamping, tie dye, block printing, etc. 

For my fabric, which was black loosely woven silk, I first created a stencil out of plastic. It took me 2 hours to cut that out with an x-acto knife

Stencil for my fabric design
I then put the stencil against the fabric and applied the discharge paste to the fabric with a sponge. You should let the paste dry on the fabric and then iron it. Both heat and steam should be applied to the fabric in order for the design to show through. Here is the result!

My funky grungy fabric
Depending on how much discharge paste you apply to the fabric (how thick the solution) you might get more or less bleached out areas on the fabric. If you want consistency, it is best to practice on a scrap piece first. I wasn't going for consistency with my design. I love how uneven the design looks! It gives this fabric a very grungy look

Close-up of my design
I think this fabric would be perfect for a sleeveless top or skater skirt. It really reminded me of a dress by A Detacher that I saw on the Spring 2014 RTW runway:

A Detacher Spring 2014 RTW
I simply cannot wait to make something with this piece! What do you guys think it should be? Leave me a comment, I'm interested in your suggestions!

Happy Friday!

Friday, November 15, 2013

4 Unexpected Ways to Wear a Belt

Hello fashionistas,

Today I wanted to share with you some creative ways to spice up your daily outfits without going out and splurging. In fact, given what you already have in your wardrobe these ideas will not cost you a dime. 

One great way to transform your look is to wear belts. I love belts. All kinds of them. So I thought why not give them some more attention and make the best of what I've got in my stash. So here is how you can update your style simply by playing with belts:

1. Wrap it around!

You surely have seen this major trend of leather cuffs and bracelets. You can achieve a similar look by wrapping you skinny belt around your wrist.

This allows you to keep with the trend but make it yours at the same time.

2. Double up!

If you have two belts that are of very similar styles and you are having difficulty deciding which one to wear - wear them both!!! Just rock them together on a slant for a "Too-Cool-To-Care" look!

Stack them up!

3. Layer them!

Do you have 2 belts of the same colour but of different width and textures? Try layering one, skinnier belt, on top of another, wider one. If the colours are dead on you might get a totally new belt! Here, I combined a very wide white belt and a thinner woven belt and got a chic new look.

Old belt
New belt

4. Interlace them!

Do you have a a belt with big holes? And another very skinny one? Try threading one belt through the other and you will get a fun new look! The more colourful the belts the better the result!

These are the belts I had.
This is the belt I got! 
Fun new belt!

I hope these unexpected ways to wear belts inspired you. Let me know how you like to wear your belts or what other ways you use to spice up your outfits!

Happy creative dressing!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Imagine: How Creativity Works, by Jonah Lehrer

Hello creatives,

One of my favourite books of late is IMAGINE. How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer. In it he explores the mechanisms by which new ideas come about and speculates about how people can tap into their creative potential. 

Since I think all of us can benefit from his ideas I will share some of them here:
  • The 15% rule: one should spend at least 15% of his or her work time doing things unrelated to work. For example, when one is desperately looking for an answer to some question and is feeling stuck, one should take a walk, take a nap, go out for a drink, etc. Daydreaming in general is found to be a great way to bring in new ideas and answers. In other words, relaxing your mind paves a way for insights and "AHA! moments".
  • Grit: However, as much as creativity feeds on inspiration, it also requires a great deal of perspiration to execute the new idea. Lehrer calls this quality grit - the ability to keep beating on your craft and to come back to the same problem failure after failure. Beethoven is known to have revised a single phrase of his sonatas dozens and dozens of times before he finalized his compositions.
  • Cities! My favourite chapter! Cities attract all kinds of people, hence, the level of diversity is extremely high. Cities is where the most improbable collisions and meetings happen and, as a result, the most creative and unexpected ideas are born and carried out. The bigger the population, the faster the average speed of walking of people, the more conversations they have and - DING! - more creativity! (No wonder I love Toronto and New York so much!!! You just never know who/what you will see/meet next!)
  • Travel! It is important to experience difference! People who travel live in an acute state of ambiguity. They realize that ways of life can be and are different in various parts of the world. Clashes of culture raise questions and lead to an open state of mind. 
  •  Outsiders: Bringing in an outsider's perspective to the problem at hand may be very beneficial since an expert may be jaded about the question and stuck in the ways he or she thinks about it. Surprisingly, the lack of indepth knowledge of the problem can be a positive thing, since such naivete may lead to a more open-minded approach to the problem.
These are just a few of the points that Lehrer makes in his book. He also speculates about the flaws of the current education system and discusses the ways to raise geniuses in our society. Overall, I found this book very compelling. If you have no interest in reading the whole book you can listen to Lehrer's speech below. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

8 Principle of Creativity. Lessons from Bert Dodson.

Hello creative souls!

Have you ever wondered where creativity comes from? Or what makes a certain act "creative"? I often ask myself these and many other questions about creativity. In one of my earlier posts I speculated about creativity being a form of "undetected plagiarism" (in William Ralph Inge's words). In this post, I would like to talk about some points made by Bert Dodson in his book Keys to Drawing with Imagination: Strategies and Exercises for Gaining Confidence and Enhancing Your Creativity .
While the book aims to develop an artist's imagination and apply it to visual art, many principles of creativity that Mr. Dodson points out can definitely be applied to a variety of life's activities:
  • Creativity occurs in action: Theorizing about creativity does not help much if one does not do much. Creativity occurs in the process of creating.
  • Creativity begins with simple ideas: There is no need to wait for great creative ideas to hit you. Starting with small ideas and actually working with them will eventually lead you to better and bigger ideas. 
  • Creativity lives in the present: The point is to do it now. One has to be engaged with one's work, be focused in the present instead of thinking about a future goal to be more creative.
  • Creativity increases with practice: Disappointment in the execution of one's ideas is normal and happens for almost everyone. Ideas almost always look better in our imagination then on paper/in reality. That is why it is important to practice your craft and do it a lot!
  • Creativity increases as judgment and criticism decrease: It is easy to discourage yourself with general self-criticism like "I don't have any ideas" or " I have lots of ideas, but I don't [insert what you do] well enough".  Silence that self-critic.
  • Creativity likes constants and specifics: While exercising freedom in your craft is good, complete freedom can overwhelm us by possibilities. Our imagination needs something to push against, a problem to solve. That is why "it is ironic that constraints can actually give you more freedom." This principle makes me think of Project Runway. When given certain parameters to work with participating designers have no time to entertain endless options about what they can make. They have to come up with the decision fast! That pressure can fuel one's creativity.
  • Creativity emerges in experimentation, manipulation and exploration: This principle is self-explanatory.
  • Creativity is about having a plan and a willingness to depart from it: Spin off, add-ons and variations are a natural occurrence in the creative process and should be embraced and exercised as they can often lead to new creative projects. 

Although many of these principles are not new I find a reminder is always good. Suggestions like suspending judgment, working with rougher materials (as opposed to your best ones), not planning out your work are all great ways to boost your creativity. And if you are into visual art definitely take a look at Dodson's book for more advice on expanding your imagination.

What about you? Do you ever find yourself stuck or disappointed? What do you do to let your creativity thrive?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Creativity Booster

Hello creative souls!

Do you find yourself complaining about your boring day job? Do you feel that there is never enough time to realize all your creative ideas? Do you catch yourself thinking that since you are not doing what you really want to do full-time, you might as well not do it at all? Then this post is for you! I would like to recommend  you a book that just might resolve your inner struggles.

The Artist in the Office: How to Creatively Survive and Thrive Seven Days a Week by Summer Pierre.

I would describe Summer Pierre as a realist and an optimist (No wonder: it's in her name!). In order to ease the tension between the job that pays the bills and you real life's work she suggests turning the negatives into the positives. She recommends:
  • instead of complaining about your day job, finding positive aspects about it: interesting people, free or discounted product, proximity to a beautiful place or store;
  • instead of being bored at work, bringing creativity to your workplace: if you are an illustrator she suggests drawing cards for coworkers instead of buying them;
  • instead of stressing the lack of time, changing your priorities and making time for making art, even if it is only 15 minutes a day. She mentions that the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Carol Shields was a mother of five when she began to write. She wrote two pages a day no matter what which in the end of nine months added up to a manuscript of her first novel.
  • Instead of focusing on what you haven't done in your life list your accomplishments and you will see how much you have already achieved and how much there is to be proud of!
Pierre offers many more tips and suggestions on how to break the everyday routine and allow your artistic self thrive. It is a fast, easy and very encouraging read! I recommend this to anyone who has doubts about their path or their creativity. The key, Pierre says, is to not focus on the mundane but to bring in an interest everywhere you go!

A couple of thoughts for the road:

Happy Creating!