Episode 08: Your Creative Bank Account

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What is The Creative Bank Account? We have mentioned it a lot in past episodes and it’s about time we talked about the source of all good ideas: what it is, how does it work and what are the best strategies for filling your personal creative bank account.

A creative bank account is something that everyone harbors in their own minds. It is creative capital and you spend this creative capital every time you make something. Creative capital fuels all creative work: poems, drawings, artwork, writing, etc.

We are unable to create in a vacuum or closed system. We need inspiration and stimulus from outside sources to fuel our creativity. That’s where the need for a creative bank account comes in.

Steve Jobs said that creativity is about connecting the dots.

Begin by drawing two dots. Connect the dots.
Then draw another dot. Connect them again.
Draw ten dots. Connect them in any way.
What is the outcome? This illustrates how as ideas come together it helps to create something new. The more dots you have, the more creative options and combinations you can create!

Innovation and ideas occur at an exponential rate.
Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation

What are the best ways  to fill a creative bank account?

Expose yourself and put yourself in the position to be around inspiration and creativity. Lee has just joined a collective studio that has bakers, architects, artists, and graphic designers under the same roof. It allows him to be around more creative energy than he would be at home or in an isolated studio space.

Become productive and creative anywhere [15:16]
It doesn’t matter where you are as long as you are “collecting your dots” and filling your bank account. The internet allows you to fill your creative bank account anywhere.

Indirect and direct experience, why you need both [16:19]
There are two sources of inspiration for your creative bank account:

  • Indirect Experience - Experiencing something through the filter of someone else i.e. film, music, movies, libraries and Pinterest. You are seeing and experiencing someone else's perspective. This allows you to be up to date and aware of what’s going on in the world around you.
  • Direct Experience - Personal experience i.e. travel & exploring.

Why you should visit the a real library [18:11]
Go to the library.
It physically gets you out of your space.
Libraries allow you to be exposed to material that you would not normally read or see.  

Going out into the real world [19:21]
Interact with the world around you. Venture to new parts of the city and new places you’ve never been. Undoubtedly, there will be something for your creative bank account.

Lee was having a really tough time feeling creative after several months of getting his house ready to put on the market, then he had this cool experience with with his son by randomly deciding to check out a comic book shop called Cosmic Money. He hasn’t really ever liked comics, but after going into the shop they found an amazing graphic novel that re-sparked his creativity.

Cosmic Monkey

The Lost Path

Get out into the world and experience life!

The benefits and opportunities of living in a boring place [23:46]
It really doesn't matter where you live. There are experiences in rural areas and experiences in cities that fill creative bank accounts. However, being able to interact with other people more can give you a lot more opportunities to fill your creative bank account. It’s all about being proactive.

Tips for increasing direct and indirect experiences [24:47]

Jake’s artist friend, Jake Wyatt, says to always be reading three books at one time:

  • Culturally required (classics such as To Kill a Mockingbird, Grapes of Wrath, etc.)
  • Culturally relevant (current books you hear about on NPR, top selling books, etc.)
  • Personally relevant to you (what are you interested in? Fantasy, history, etc.)

By reading three different books at the same time you will see different dots and find connections that you might not have seen if you were to read them one at a time.

Jake Wyatt

Artist dates [27:39]
Regularly set a date and set time aside to take yourself out on an artist date! Get out of your own space and normal habits to go to an art gallery, a museum, a bookstore, or out into nature. Go by yourself so you don’t have to filter your experience through someone else.

Direct experience to pursue [29:44]
To have direct experiences travel, explore, do community service, go to museums, etc. Community service allows you to change your outlook and puts you in contact with people or situations that are outside of your normal routine.

Visit Family [30:36]
Visiting family pushes you to be in contact with people that have different opinions and perspectives than you. You don’t know what will inspire you! Who knows, maybe your crazy Uncle Joe will inspire a new character.

Get out of your comfort zone [32:31]
Change the way you do things, like travel from place to place or where you create. Take a different route home. Surrender control by getting rides with family on vacation instead of renting a car. Change your mode of transportation.

Will says that changing your daily routine is a boost for your creative bank account. You don’t always see all the benefits of these experience all at once, but, if you are deliberate, over time you will notice the effects.

Three steps to take after the direct and indirect experiences [37:24]

  1. Share what you experienced. Talk to someone, write a blog post or journal about it, condense the experience to a phrase/ tweet.
  2. Take time to think. Will goes on bike rides or hikes almost daily. Jake and Lee like to run. Take time to listen to your thoughts. We spend so much time consuming that sometimes we don’t allow time to think and process.
  3. Keep a sketchbook or idea book. Jake started keeping one in the early years of his career and would write down any ideas he had. Looking back on it now, there are lots of dumb ideas but also lots of nuggets that help spark creativity in his art now.

The book, “Choose Yourself” says to write down 10 new ideas a day. Jake has tried it and it’s hard. It really stretches you. Try it out! Creativity is a muscle - the more you use it, the better you get at it. Some ideas will be really dumb and silly, but still write them down, the good ideas will come. You can write down ideas for art, for new places to walk your dog, for a business opportunity you think Amazon could take advantage of, etc. etc. You will become more creative!

Choose Yourself!

People with tons of ideas get published [44:31]
The more ideas you have the more you push yourself. Will relates this to children’s books. He has seen that people with lots of ideas rather than just one get published. You have to generate tons of material and then refine.

Be comfortable with changing course [47:00]
Changing courses is part of the creative process. You will see what things work and what things don’t work and change gears accordingly.

Sketchbooks [51:08]
Don’t allow your sketchbook to limit you. Students sometimes feel as as if a sketchbook needs to be perfect but Lee recommends calling it an idea book instead. Then you don’t have to feel pressure that each page has to look amazing, you can have lists and stick figures if you want!

Rapid Viz: A New Method for the Rapid Visualization of Ideas

IlLISTtration: Improvisational Lists and Drawing Assists to Spark Creativity



Jake Parker: mrjakeparker.com. Instagram: @jakeparker, Youtube: JakeParker44

Will Terry: willterry.com. Instagram: @willterryart, Youtube: WillTerryArt

Lee White: leewhiteillustration.com. Instagram: @leewhiteillo

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