5 Reasons to be Creative

This week, for 3 days, Ollie and I visited Brighton for the Reasons to Be Creative conference.  Their aim: to recharge designers’ creative batteries, inspire them and get them doing more with all the amazing tools out there.  So, in honour of all the amazing speakers’ efforts, I want to highlight 5 of my favourites, complete with experiments they have inspired.

Eva-Lotta Lamm

Sometimes the first session you watch makes you want to go home right then and get started. That’s what happened when I went to see Eva-Lotta Lamm‘s session on sketching.  She handed out paper and pencils, and we worked with basic shapes as a warm-up (starting with dots, then lines, then triangles and so on) to create expressive sketches that are incredibly easy to make.

Since we were busy practicing our sketching skills, it was great for someone like me, who has a very short attention span.  She taught us to take stick men, and make them useful in expressing concepts.  I know it’s cheesy, but I feel like she’s given us all a huge gift: she has made it so much easier to express my ideas (awww, thanks for the toolkit Eva!).

Sketching ≠ drawing.  Sketching is not about being a good artist but about being a good thinker.

First bit, by Eva-Lotta Lamm, second bit by Jason Santa Maria


She encouraged taking doodlebreaks and even has created a random sentence website where you can get weird things to draw (one example: A tired box running away from a bus).

She also encouraged us to make time for practicing (she sketches on her commute or at meetings), and to explore new types of hobbies.  Just like any skill, it requires practice to get used to learning new things.  So, play, give yourself assignments, and stop caring if your drawings are perfect– instead, make them express your ideas.

Result: I have made it my aim to draw for a bit every day, to keep the fires burning and will continue taking art classes and practice agility with my dogs.  Before, I was a bit flat, and hadn’t drawn for ages.  After, I felt so ready to go do things!  A perfect start.


climbingDominic Wilcox

Creativity manifests itself in everyday life, or so Dominic Wilcox, constant inventor and hilarious artist, says.  He’s spent his time exploring inventions that are ‘normal’ but come from an alternative state of mind (buildings that move up and down when the elevator remains in place, for example).  Often hilarious, but positively delightful, he encourages us all to practice our ideas, and believes that everyone is a creator.

Result: I look around me now, and try and think of how I can interact with all the normal things in my life to entertain myself.  This is my desk drawers I drew on this morning.  I was thinking, it’s a ladder, and all these little men are snooping in my drawers, trying to get up into my business.  I didn’t have time today to do my piano tree, but I will soon!



Stefan Sagmeister

What can I really add to reviews of Stefan and his work, without seeming like another one of those fangirls? Nothing really.  So I will say this, if you get a chance to hear him speak, see his Happy film or go to his Happiness exhibition, do it.  This guy isn’t afraid of pushing himself outside of his comfort zone, but at the same time makes sure he does as much research as he possibly can, finding the best way to express his ideas, but using real science to do it.

Result: I’ve been thinking a lot about how I often fight against trying things in different ways, of getting out of my comfort zone.  I also like how he interacts with the real world to create messages. It’s really fun, and I’m just blatantly doing a poor man’s version here, but I think it expresses a bit how I felt after his talk.

Royal Bandit

Royal Bandit are the duo who did the opening credits for Reasons, are from Montreal, and are so sweet and passionate, and especially talented, that you couldn’t help but be delighted by hearing about their projects. Like many other talks, they spoke about how materials change how you’re creative, and aren’t afraid to get the drills out, to work all night to see their vision come to life.  They also say that once you’ve mastered a skillset, you should probably think about pushing your boundaries, finding different paths to keep yourself fresh.

Result: Well, first, it makes me want to move to Montreal!  I love their collaboration and how their skills complement each other, and how they feed off each others’ energies.  I want more collaboration like that!  Plus, their stuff is just so cool, it makes me want to make things too.

Jon Burgerman

The funniest talk. Jon just continually brought out his wacky humour, colourful drawings and his zest for life.  Jon encouraged us to draw all the time, during his talk, everywhere and anywhere.  He then told us how his yellow coat made him interact with people and items in the world in different ways, and hypothesised on the importance of an artist’s costume.  He went on random tangents, showed tons of drawings, ideas, and his lack of fear of just having a go.


Result: I had already started to wear wacky clothes and to randomize my life, but I loved that he made games out of everyday life, and created a world for himself that was built to entertain himself. So, at the bar, I played some drawing games, and then asked Jon to play with me too.  Not sure what he thought of that (his is on the far right, and mine of him is the second from the right)!

Final thoughts

It was hard to pick just 5 for my top speakers. Hellicar & Lewis also provoked me with their excellent new media art, with their quote, “Technology is not an idea.”, and Elliott Jay Stocks finished strong saying that side projects are the things that should define us (and have led to him getting a dream job working for Adobe Typekit).

Would I recommend the conference?  Yep. Do I think I can apply what these people in the top of our creative industry are doing to my own life?  Yep.  Is it easy to just work on these side projects while you’re trying to make a living? Nope.  But should you?  If you listen to any of the best speakers, the answer is, “There is no other option.”

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