Do you consider yourself a creative person?
Creativity is such a fascinating topic. I just read this article that clarifies the creative process by breaking it down into four steps. According to this article, we are all creative beings, but a ‘good creative’ is a person who navigates successfully through four stages and actually completes their project.
I recognized some of my own experiences in his article so today I thought I’d share a few highlights in case you can relate.
Let me use a personal outing of mine to make things clearer.
This past weekend I was craving some inspiration and one of my favorite places to go when I’m in this mood is a fabric store. There’s something about seeing wildly, colorful bolts of fabric every where I look that makes my little heart patter, and the weird thing is, I don’t even sew.
(I know. don’t try to figure me out).
So I headed to La Brea Avenue in the heart of LA to visit an old favorite shop of mine and to check out some of the quirky, Boho-chic shops along the way.
At this point, I just wanted to hop in the car and keep it totally unscripted, stopping whenever I saw something interesting. Although little did I know that-- according to this author--I was in the first stage of creativity.
The hubby parked outside of a store called the Mix and these giant, colorful giraffes were calling my name so we went inside. It reminded me of a Cost-Plus on steroids. Think earthy colored textures, rustic woods and gorgeous, pricey textiles that I want to buy after I win the lottery.
Right down the street was the good old Diamond Foam & Fabric.
Twenty five years ago this was a bustling place with a fantastic fabric selection where you would often run into celebrities. I remember waiting to pay for my fabric behind Gloria Allred, the feminist attorney on one of my visits. But after we moved to Northern California I lost touch with this place.
These days I’m not sure about the clientele, but apparently Eva Mendes likes to shop here (although no, I didn’t see her or hunky Ryan, sniff-sniff).
But back to the topic of creativity.
This weekend I didn’t have a specific project in mind. More like a hodge podge of ideas, images and colors that are brewing in my head right now, like a mental Pinterest board.
As some of you know, we’re getting ready to move into a house that needs a lot of work and it’s got my creative juices flowing.
I feel like I’m on the verge of quite a few creative projects. Do you know that stage… before you’ve made any concrete decisions? When you’re still walking around with ideas swirling in your head, touching fabric swatches and collecting paint colors to swipe on the walls?
Well that’s where I am.
1. Preparation Stage
According to the article this is first stage of creativity.
It’s called the Preparation Stage and it’s an open, curious process when you’re focused on gathering your data. If you’re an artist this is the stage you might visit an art gallery, or if you’re a business investor you might be researching properties, or if you’re a computer programmer you might play with code.
You get my point.
Apparently it’s a stage that some find tedious, even stressful because at this point there’s lots of unknowns. And choices. If you’re getting ready to remodel your home this would be the time to be collecting all the pictures that you love. No lukewarm reactions allowed, only love. Go with your gut and don’t judge your collections, the goal is to keep an open mind and see what unfolds before you.
This process seems to run over into the next stage.
2. Incubation Stage
The second stage is what most of us would consider the mysterious part of the creative process. The incubation stage is when your conscious and unconscious mind is simmering on an idea. The author calls it percolating, because your idea is not even fully formed yet. Your brain is still making connections, sifting through possible outcomes and trying out new ideas.
For me, this is the decorating stage that shouldn’t be rushed, otherwise you end up with that dreaded feeling of regret afterwards. In my own humble opinion, this is the creative place that should be relished because it helps us define who we are, what we truly want, and what distinguishes our personal taste from the crowd.
The incubation stage is the one where you embrace your individuality and end up with your Eureka moment.
3. Illumination Stage
Every creative person—this means you--- knows the feeling that’s associated with this stage.
It’s that glorious ah-ha moment when those thick, confusing clouds part in the sky and you suddenly have a clear vision in front of you. Welcome to the illumination stage, the moment when you say,
“Yes! That’s it.”
That’s the right shade of paint or the perfect fabric for your couch or the pendant you want for your entry.
Or maybe you figure out your next book plot. Or your next business move.
Only as relieving as this clarity might feel, the ‘good creative’ knows that the work has only just begun.
4. Implementation Stage
Because if your creative vision is to become a reality, good planning and execution is a must. If you’re attempting a remodel this is also the point where you would delegate certain jobs to a professional, depending on your DIY skills and budget.
I found it interesting that according to the author the two areas that people typically struggle with in the creative process involve the first two steps.
Don’t skip these 2 things
Not taking the time to truly know yourself--what interests you and what drives you is one problem.
And the other oversight is not realizing how much our creative process benefits from socializing. From reaching out to other creative people and discussing your thoughts. Hearing feedback. Percolating is good, but being open to ideas also means tapping into people sources too.
This implementation stage is an important one and the author does a much better job explaining it HERE. You really should read it.
In the meantime I’ll share a few pictures from La Brea Avenue that I filed away in my simmering little brain.
How cool are these Mason Jar luminaries?
We stopped at La Boulange
and had a sandwich and a cold Blue Moon while we were on La Brea.
Of course. Guess what the beer is served in?
Yep a chilled Mason Jar.
Veryyy rustic lighting …
…and here’s all the trendy materials in one shot.
Marble on top for the bakery counters.
Reclaimed wood on the bottom counter.
And concrete on the floor painted with white stencils.
Here’s a close up of the floor.
The café manager says that although it looks great, it’s starting to wear off in some places when scrubbed. Bummer.
And as we left the café I saw this beautiful pair of drapes hanging in the window of Deco Home and snapped a picture.
I’m seeing shades of orange popping up everywhere (note the café seat color) but unfortunately the glare in the window made it impossible to see the entire drapes.
The only photo that came out was this close up.
But it reminded me of another pair of very chic drapes from Jennifer Schoenberger’s home.
She’s recently moved into a new home and has already stained her wood floors and picked out the gray for her kitchen cabinets, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of her selections.
In the meantime, I hope I’ve got you thinking about your own creative process.
I think putting words to our intuitive experiences help us understand the stages we go through on our way to a final project. And I hope this information encourages you to see yourself as a creative resource. A person with ideas that matter.
Remember, you are the expert on yourself, so don’t be afraid of your hunches and your gut reactions. Value them enough to follow through with concrete actions.
I know as a DIYer, it’s easy to admire someone else you see as an ‘expert’ and to second guess your own decisions, but the next time you feel yourself sinking a bit after one of those mental comparisons, stop yourself.
Life is too short and you’re too old to keep underestimating yourself.
So…. tell me.
What project are you working on right now?