The Mind Blender: aka the Cure for the Common Rut

The Mind Blender...Sure to give you more than just whirled peas.
This is just a little contraption I came up with to try and jolt the old creative juices. One word of caution. Don’t try to blend all of these at one time unless you really want to end up like Christopher Walken. Oh. And One more thing. Make sure the lid is on. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

themindblender

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Creative Collaboration in the workplace: The Lennon and McCartney Way.

Lennon-McCartney-Songwritin

Creative brainstorming in the corporate environment can often be a challenge. There’s almost always someone in room who doesn’t speak enough and always someone who speaks way too much. Egos can impede the entire process, particularly if one of them happens to be the boss. An overbearing manager can bring the entire process to a screeching halt leaving some fantastic ideas, ideas that make you money, totally unexplored.

Creativity in today’s workplace is needed now more than ever. Thousands of businesses nationwide are passing up a golden opportunity to innovate, which is vital for survival, simply out of fear. The newspaper business, which is where I spent the bulk of my career as a cartoonist, is a prime example of an industry afraid to change, afraid to invest the money it takes to reinvent the business model. Papers across the country are laying off some of their most creative talent and cutting content to save money in a time when they need to be totally committed to out-of-the-box creativity and innovation.

So what can we learn from the collaborative relationship of John Lennon and Paul McCartney that can translate to the corporate environment? Plenty. I think there are some key elements that Lennon and McCartney used to create some of the most lasting music of our time that we can incorporate into the day to day creative brainstorming in the workplace.

Brainstorming with the Beatles
1. Check the egos at the door. To have successful sessions of creative brainstorming it’s vital that everyone is free to pitch ideas equally. There can’t be a pecking order and there can’t be a room full of yes sir, bobble heads. Unless, of course, you want really crappy ideas that make the boss feel like he’s Einstein when his creative IQ is more like Goofy. The reason Lennon-McCartney worked so well is there was mutual respect. It worked for them and it can work for you.
2. Give every idea a chance. Everyone involved in the session must be totally free to submit whatever idea they have on their minds without the fear of ridicule or apprehension. I’m pretty sure the idea for the song “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” sounded a little lame at the time.
3. Be the Yin to their Yang. Lennon-McCartney did the bulk of their songwriting by throwing out small ideas that were the exact polar opposite in lyrical content of the song they were working on. Always remember that “I’ve got to admit it’s getting better, a little better all the time” was countered with “It doesn’t get much worse”. That’s Yin and Yang.
4. Be Fearless of Failure. Not every song the Beatles recorded was a hit. Don’t expect every brainstorming session to be one either. Keep digging and eventually something will click .
5. Find the right atmosphere to Create in. Lennon and McCartney did a lot of their creating in hotel rooms and recording studios. While those places can be stifling, kind of like the boardrooms we brainstorm in, you can bet they were comfortable and relaxed. Have a day of casual dress, meet at a bowling alley and do your brainstorming while bowling a few frames. Break out the Hawaiian shirts, put on some Jimmy Buffett, string up a few Christmas lights in that boardroom and start the meeting over Virgin Pina Coladas and Margaritas. Now that’s an atmosphere you can create in
6. Check the cell phones and blackberries at the door. Distractions are the mortal enemy of creativity. Sure, a bowling alley isn’t exactly quiet, but it’s a lot better than someone taking a cell phone call in the middle of a brilliant brainstorm. Set aside the time and treat it with care. Lennon and McCartney wrote about Penny Lane, not ON Penny Lane. And neither should you.
7. It’s brainstorming not brain surgery. Some people thrive under pressure and great things can be created under a tight deadline but to put expectations on every session is just not conducive to great brainstorming. Sure Paul McCartney got the melody and structure for the song “Yesterday” all at one time. But he went around singing “scrambled eggs” for weeks until he could find a lyric more suitable for the song. So throw some windup toys on the boardroom table, cater in some ice cream and have some fun while you’re thinking up the next great idea. Relax. It’s only brainstorming.

Creator’s Incubator # 1

Welcome to the first ever Creator’s Incubator. Since it’s the inaugural edition, I thought it would be appropriate to give you a few behind the scenes stuff about my creative process.

Sparks:
Individual cartoons have their own set of sparks, so I thought I’d give you some of the everyday variety.
I like to surround myself with cartoon collectibles and cartoon art in the studio. It makes me feel at home.Here’s just a few samples from my home studio.

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Five things that help me Create:
1. Reading. Newspapers, magazines, websites, billboards, t-shirts, movie posters, anything visual It’s the most important part of creating sports cartoons. After I read I let it soak in for a while.
2. Silence is golden for thinking up ideas. I can listen to music or CNN after I pencil the cartoon and I’m ready to ink, but not before.
3. Word play. I write down topics and free associate a visual metaphor for what it is I want to say in the cartoon. In my case it’s usually an opinion I have about a topic I’m drawing on.
4. Ink don’t think. The worst thing to do is force an idea. Ideas form when you’re most relaxed, even if you are under deadline. If I get really stuck I’ll put the subject I’m drawing about in the most outrageous situation I can imagine. Case in point. This Phelps cartoon.
drew0819
5. Bang my head up against the wall and hope that something besides hair comes out.

Creativational Quote of the day: An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.
Edwin Land

Created on this date: 1963 – Beatles record “She Loves You” & “I’ll Get You”

The Rhino Recommends: This fantastic book about the founding of Pixar and the innovation and creativity it took to pull it all together.
pixarpic

There you have it. I hope you’ll join us here and at DrewLitton.com for the next edition of the Creator’s Incubator

Welcome to the Creator’s Incubator

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Welcome to my Laboratory, “The Creator’s Incubator”.

What’s it all about?

The single most asked question I get as a cartoonist is “Where do you get your ideas”? Aside from the answer “ I drink a lot and sleep late” once given in jest by cartoonist Gahan Wilson, I’ve always stumbled my way through it.

I’ve long been intrigued by the creative process and have often wanted to find a way to answer that elusive “ideas” question. So I decided why not feature daily insights, tips, and suggestions about this thing called creativity and how we can all apply it to our daily lives. Why not go “inside-the-lab” with stories about other creators and how they hatch their amazing works of art. We’ll delve into it all, including music, writing, character development, movie and TV show development, cartoons, comics, comedy and just about anything else that can be created. We’ll make it interactive, so that you too can share your own creative thoughts and insights. Think of it as one big Creative Community. A Creators Incubator. That said, it’s time for the grand tour.

The Creator’s Incubator upcoming Features
Sparks: Those things that inspire creativity. For instance, one of the most fascinating stories about the creation process of the Beatles infamous Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club album revolved around the John Lennon song, “For the Benefit of Mr. Kite”. The songs lyrics came directly from a circus poster Lennon had found in an antiques store. That’s a spark.

Creativational Quotes: Quotes to motivate the creative spirit in us all, like this:
“A creation of importance can only be produced when its author isolates himself, it is a child of solitude.”
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe-

Creative tips: Like this one… Ever read billboards? Sometimes they can provide great ways to create powerful, well defined ways to communicate ideas. The key is in the simplicity and in the way one grabs your attention. Just don’t drive off the road doing it.

The Rhino Recommends: Once a week the Incubator will give it’s recommendation of a book, a movie, cd or blog that can offer something valuable to the creative process. Not exactly Oprah, but you get the idea.

Inside-the-Lab. We’ll go behind the scenes into someone’s creative process giving you some cool information about how other creative people come up with their stuff and how you might use it at work or in your daily lives.be sure to read my daily cartoons as well.

Created on this date: Highlights of the worlds most creative achievements, like this:
On June 29, 1964 the 1st draft of Star Trek’s pilot “Cage” was released.

Readers comments, tips and insights. The interactive part of the Incubator.

Ask the Rhino. Send in your questions about creativity directly to the Rhino. He’ll answer one good one a week.

There you have it. I hope you’ll join us here for the Creator’s Incubator starting July 1.