Sara Scharlau

How to inspire creativity

By Sara Scharlau on May 20, 2014

As much as some people might believe those in the creative industry somehow have a never-ending stream of top-notch, award-winning ideas just waiting to burst out at any minute, for me, it most certainly is not true. It is an amazing job, but I don’t have the luxury of waiting for inspiration.

So this is how I inspire creativity: Make, Talk, Remove, Attend. It’s my creative maintenance mantra — repeat it over and over for best results.

1. Make. No really, make anything!

I’m a big fan of simplification. I believe it leads to clarity and understanding. When I thought about what brought me into the wonderful world of design at Core, it was simply that I loved making things. From the earliest age, I was encouraged to make music, paint, draw, sculpt, build, write and create stories. I have constantly made SOMEthing my entire life. And I plan on continuing.

However, I think it’s important to realize that whatever you make doesn’t have to be directly linked to your career or this industry. In fact, I say it shouldn’t. I find my inspiration fuel practicing my piano (because who says you can’t start an instrument when you’re an adult?), working on my vintage Honda CB360 motorcycle, sewing costumes or simply mending. The act gets you working those creative muscles in a different way then you normally do. In fact, it can work out and benefit your physical muscles too — my piano lessons have improved my posture while I’m at the computer and have helped ease my arm and wrist pain!

2. Talk. Creative ideas are meant to be shared!

You can only go so far on your own. Egos shouldn’t have space in our creative lives. You never know how one conversation could elevate not only a single piece but also your inspiration as a whole. Colleagues, friends and family have such wonderfully different perspectives, and creativity is bred out of challenges. The day that no one has anything interesting to share, whether it be a technique, process or story, I’ll hang up my creative hat.

3. Remove: Some time away from the “norm” will spark creativity.

This doesn’t mean you have to toil away in a far-off cabin, alone with only your thoughts. It could be something as simple as taking a different route to and from work, or while running your weekly errands. But what is most beneficial is to take a day away from work or freelance activity and attend a creative summit, seminar or event.

Which leads me to:

4. Attend. Go out and put yourself in a new creative environment!

Whether it’s an evening talk or a several day creative event in a different part of the country, get out there and put yourself in an environment saturated with creativity. Learn new things, hear new stories, be inspired and challenged in a different way than your normal workload. Allow yourself to have the time to remember why it is you do what you do.

And why you love it.

Creativity will curl up and die if not properly maintained. So make sure it’s part of your annual maintenance. You get your car’s oil changed every 3,000 miles. Consider this your little cling sticker in the corner of the windshield for your creative maintenance.