The Business of Being Creative – The First of 5 Blogs on Creativity and Entrepreneurship

As we move into the next phase of living with a pandemic, I am reflecting on how the lockdown has impacted me in terms of my future direction. I can honestly say, it has re-enforced my desire to seek new personal creative heights. After a lifetime working with artists and creative people I recognise the personal gain of living a creative life. However I also recognise, it is not always easy to balance creativity and the day to day process of making enough to live on.

The Rose Room, Annabel’s private members club designed by Martin Brudnizki Studio

Yesterday, I watched the Chelsea Design Centre webinar focusing on the collaboration between Martin Brudnizki and Porta Romana to produce a range of lighting for the latter. Brudnizki is clearly on top of his game and, rightly, is being touted as one of the world’s top interior designers. His work is phenomenal and he is able to command a large organization whilst keeping his creative juices flowing. Not everyone can do this. I wonder how he rejuvenates himself?

The reality is, many designers are much more like one man bands having to put themselves into a million different directions and not quite when they have the right head space to do so. For instance, as a profession, interior design is top heavy in terms of administration and the different facets of putting designs together and bringing them to fruition probably means that only about 10% of the time is spent being ‘creative’. As Martin put it, why do this job if it is not fun?

So how do we find the time to actually enjoy this creative portion of the job? The answer is valuing yourself and using your time more rigorously…

Photo David Massingham

Be Bold

Being creative is not an end point, it is a jumping off point. To jump off you need to feel good about yourself, confident in your ability to ‘let go’ and able to embrace failure and learn from it. Being from the dance world, I have had the privilege of working with some of the world’s greatest dancers and seen artists soaring above the clouds (in terms of their work!) I have also had lows, unsuccessful dance pieces and some harsh conversations. Being creative is rewarding and risky in equal measures! I always have said, I have learnt more from my mistakes than my successes.

So what does ‘letting go’ and ‘jumping off’ look like in terms of being a creative entrepreneur? What it is not is playing safe, doing what you always do, rehashing the same design in different settings and working with the sole goal to please as many people as possible.

Twyla Tharp Choreography

Be Rigorous

Create systems and rituals that allow you the space to think more freely. Tidy your life and find the space where real life does not eat away your creative appetite. Creativity is not a lightning bolt moment and nor can it be relied on to magically appear. It has to be nurtured by challenging yourself to think anew within a place that allows for risk taking. As the world famous choreographer Twyla Tharp says, ‘Creativity is an act of defiance’ (The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp available on Amazon)

Weltenlinie by Alicja Kwade part of Space Shifters Exhibition at the Hayward Gallery 2017

However, understanding how other’s in the art world have become great is a good starting point to seek new territory so don’t be afraid to research their journeys and methodologies. Perhaps avoid obvious choices like famous people in your own profession and seek out masters in other art forms. For instance, as a choreographer, I always read books about architecture. Now as an interior designer I am drawn to sculpture for inspiration. I listen to podcasts by creative entrepreneurs, watch ted talks and read as much as I can to extend how I understand my full potential. In this way, I formulate new ideas that may or may not come to fruition but without a range of new ideas, I can only tread water.

The Rolling Bridge by Heatherwick Studio photo Steve Speller

Be Experimental

Thinking anew and extending your creative language is achieved by experimentation, extending your own personal canon if you like.

Unless the experimentation is for your eyes only, then it can never be risk free but it is worth it. Understanding how to experiment within the cradle of safety is also a skill but one worth developing. Knowing when and where to experiment is itself liberating, choosing the moments and their scale.

Throw down ideas before you set anything in stone, it is easier to experiment if you have allowed yourself the time and space to put different iterations out there in the first place. Erasing and re-defining are hall marks of experimentation!

Experimentation leads to surprises and surprising yourself and others is a good thing as long as it is a welcome surprise! But this is another aspect of knowing how to push yourself into new territory. New territory is gained by treading both carefully and boldly simultaneously, finding anchors whilst setting sail! Don’t be blown off course, be targeted and know why you are choosing to break new ground, bring a science to the art you love. Analyse and keep relooking and keep searching. the first brave step may not be the final solution.

MC Escher Bond of Union 1956

Be Analytical

Don’t do everything with a feeling that everybody will be judging you. Ask for help. It is tricky to stop wanting only praise for our creative endevours but it can be liberating to invite criticism. Allowing yourself to be the subject of criticism makes you grow and grow in the eyes of others. Find your tribe who will speak their mind with rationale explanatory thought which will help you to the next level and stay afloat.  When taking risks, invite criticism and you may also be inviting the greatest praise you have ever received.

If you begin to reach new creative heights and you feel you are growing in your ability to deliver unique solutions, you will evolve a stronger narrative for your work. Delve into this to make the most of it so you can express yourself with greater confidence. This will lead to greater business success.

Be Authentic

Ultimately, there is a question of integrity in any creative work but no more so than in the way homes are designed as we are bombarded daily with the beauty of homes and interiors that someone else has imagined or have the opportunity to live in!

Find the time to re-imagine how you next begin a creative journey, stop looking at pinterest and start trusting your own judgement, delve into your memories not someone else’s. Use your life’s experiences to shape a new vision and embrace your strengths and face your weaknesses. Step into the unknown to seek your authentic creative self. When you have, you will know it!

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