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How Do You Stay Creative?

While in 2010 we asked our artists and photographer what general advice they'd give to others, in 2011 we decided to focus on in a more specific question. Inspired by a list we came across in June, at the end of several of our interviews we asked one simple question,

“How do you stay creative?”

What we ended up getting were answers that had one common thread running through them: it was about opening yourself up to new experiences. Whether it was traveling, placing yourself in a creative atmosphere or reading books and seeing movies, these 11 artists and photographers believe that the best way to keep those creative juices flowing is by seeing and experiencing new things. As we start off 2012, may their words inspire you, in your own artistic endeavor.

1. Tomaas, Photographer

“Fortunately, I live in New York City which represents a limitless source of inspiration for me. With its high level of diverse people, occupations, foods, art, economics and social status, and on and on, there is much for my creativity to thrive on. Simultaneously, when you are surrounded by such a high concentration of talented and eager artists looking to perfect their craft, it motivates you to become better and to always keep working. Everyone is constantly trying to be the best at what they love. You really can't ask for much more of a creative atmosphere than that.”

2. Miguel Mansur, Illustrator

“Watching movies. Some of the recent ones I have seen are Lost in Translation, Brick, Yojimbo, The Red Baron. I feel that movies really help one to better understand composition and use of color. Another is reading comics or graphic novels such as Y: The Last Man, Fables, and Asterios Polyp which I highly recommend for anyone who is a visual artist to pick up. Music would have to be another, stuff from Philip Glass, Yo Yo Ma, The Strokes and The Libertines. But for the most part – movies, music, comics and all the things in between – help me stay creative.”

3. Amy Shackleton, Painter

“At first I looked to other artists for inspiration to try and find out what my style was. I looked to people like Andrew Rucklidge in Toronto, and I've always loved Salvador Dali. But now I look not to other artists so much, but locations and other places to really inspire each piece. I take photos everywhere I go. So far I've managed to explore parts of Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Croatia, Vienna, Peru, New York, Chicago, Boston, England, Morocco, etc. “

4. Nick Pedersen, Digital Artist

“I like to travel and see new parts of the world, and I think it is definitely inspiring to be exposed to new places and experiences. I also read a lot and I like to learn as much as I can about the things I am interested in. Most of the time I am thinking and contemplating about future projects and I like to keep a sketchbook to draw out ideas and write down thoughts.”

5. Christian Jackson, Illustrator

“I don't know if that is necessarily something that I try to do. When I have creative idea it will nag at me until I give it some attention. So I express it, then I move on to something else. Sometimes it works out in my favor (like this poster series) and sometimes it's just nonsense. Perhaps the answer to your question is that I am taking every idea that I have seriously. Nothing is too small because, in my mind, there is not such thing as a small idea, only ones that have yet to be fully realized. I also give big props to the thriving design community. There is a lot to be inspired by out there.”

6. Todd Karol, Photographer

“I spend way too much money on photo books for one thing. I go to a lot of art shows. I have this thing, no matter what city or even small town I travel to, I make a point of seeing at least one art show. When I was in Berlin I saw the Peter Lindbergh show at the CO Berlin, it was stunning. I still think of many of those prints. When I got to Prague I saw Antonin Kratochvil's show, brilliant. Then in Vienna Ren Burri had a big show there. All these things are important to me as a photographer. One time I stayed in London two extra days just so I could go see the Robert Frank retrospective at the Tate. The Internet is great for seeing new stuff, but nothing beats a real print up close.”

7. Julene Harrison, Papercut Artist

“Looking at all the wonderful work showcased on blogs spurs me on to keep working hard,” she says. “There is so much amazing work out there (it can be a little intimidating if I'm honest!). I think that through working hard you keep your creativity up. You keep thinking and you keep moving forward.”

8. Andrea Bricco, Photographer

“I stay creative by paying attention to what's happening around me and I shoot often with prop and food stylists who inspire me. I think the key to staying creative is to keep shooting even when you're not getting paid.”

9. Lara Jade, Fashion Photographer

“I stay creative by challenging myself to shoot personal work on a regular basis – I am constantly thinking of new ideas and themes that are not only going to give something new to my portfolio but they are going to help me improve my vision, knowledge and expand my contacts. I also surround myself with positive, visual energy – people, art events and I try to visit photography and art exhibitions when I can. Living in New York has definitely highlighted my love for the fast paced art/photography industry and helps me stay connected with my work.”

10. Herb Williams, Sculptor

“Go hiking, dancing, driving through the Blue Ridge mountains, and try a little transcendental meditation. If none of those do the trick I try a little lucid dreaming.”

11. Dominic Philibert, Caricaturist

“Above all, I think, an active openness and curiosity, and a keen sense of observation can play an important role in terms of creativity. These are certainly qualities to develop in order to eventually break free and to better express ourselves. There is so much information around us, to discover and absorb. Remain open to your environment(s), this can provide a multitude of creative options and provide answers that can serve as links between different spheres of life and help create more interesting links.

“And, of course, we all have our own experiences, all rich in content and diversity, and very personal each to themselves. Our own life experiences are excellent resources to exploit.

“I think that the more you express yourself, the more you actively play with your ideas, the easier it will become to merge those ideas more rapidly, to create your own unique thoughts, thereafter.”

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