Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Challenge: January 2012 - 'New'

I recently signed up to the "Creative Every Day Challenge" on the following website: 

The theme for January is "New".
I was a little late starting this challenge, but every month from now on I intend to follow the stimulus and blog about it.

At first I thought 'I could learn a new skill - maybe to crochet, or sign up for a photography course....' etc. In essence, I was thinking of adding to the skills I already have (or think I have!).

But then somebody showed me the following article:

It really struck a chord with me.

In 2010 I left the UK to go travelling for a while - I ended up being away for eight months in total. Only a handful of people in the UK had my international/Aussie phone number and I deliberately did not go online every single day - once a week was probably my average. I loved being away from it all - I could not understand how so many people had a laptop in their rucksack and had the need to Skype home every day. What was the point in being on the other side of the world?!
I chose that time to focus on other things - I read an average of 1.3 books a week in those eight months and listened to more music than I can remember! I also kept journals/scrapbooks detailing the sights I had seen, the people I had met and the highs and lows of being on my own, exploring other countries and cultures.

I often miss the simplicity that my travelling alter-ego enjoyed.

The challenge I have chosen for January is in fact not all that new, but more of a step towards how it used to be... simpler.

Every day for at least one hour I will switch off from everything - no phone, no TV, no iTunes, no e-mail, no facebook, no internet... Just me, the quiet, my thoughts and maybe a pen and paper. And who knows, maybe (or should I say, hopefully,) something creative will emerge... Maybe I'll finally finish the synopsis for a novel that has been whirring in my mind over the last year or so, or even design the costumes for the show I want to produce...

One hour.
Every day.

Let the challenge begin...

Saturday, 14 January 2012

To be an intern or not to be an intern...?

A friend of mine showed me this article and I think it raises some interesting concerns about internships:

I must confess to knowing little, if anything, about the fashion industry (you should see my wardrobe!) but having friends who have studied fashion/textile design I have heard countless stories of searching for/taking on several stints of unpaid work in the sector.

Whilst I can understand the need to "get in there" with designers and (hopefully) gain paid employment, the concerns raised in the article ring too true when I think of those that have undertaken months of unpaid work... and gained nothing except an extra couple of lines on their CV.

This is also true of other creative industries:

A few years ago I took an internship at a theatre company to assist with the premier of a new show. I told myself it was a valuable (albeit long) lesson but was excited at the prospect of putting "assistant producer" on my CV - the Arts Council would have to fund my debut theatre project after that, surely?!

In hindsight the only thing that I really remember from the experience was to add 10% contingency to any budget. Did I really need to work one day a week unpaid for nine months to learn that? Or is that in fact common sense? Timetabling rehearsals, writing to local businessess for financial support and selling tickets were all necessary parts of putting the show on, but by the end of the process I began questioning my role. I was putting address labels on letters and taking them to the post office. What did that teach me about running a theatre company? Where was my creativity being stretched - or even acknowledged? How was the company benefiting from my creative skills?

The end point came for me after the show had finished when I was asked to do an additional day in order to envelope generic "thank you" letters to contributors and participants. Clearly my envelope-stuffing skills were highly regarded, but I felt that my time as "assistant producer" had come to a natural end.

Three years later the paragraph regarding the internship is slipping further down my CV and has not lead to any other creative projects. It has, however, stopped me from giving away my time for free again... maybe that was the truest lesson to learn.

As the article suggests, internships can be productive at times, but both sides need to benefit. Creative individuals are surely going to be inspired by other creative people.

So now I shall endeavour to follow the parting advice given in the article - get on and do it! Find the people to work with/for and just go for it!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Creativity: So many questions, but how many answers?

The word 'creative' appears to be popping up all over the place at the moment and with it an array of questions:

What is creativity? And how can a person describe themself as creative?
Is creativity a skill someone is born with or can it be learned? If so, how?
Does education in fact kill creativity?
If an idea is merely a reinterpretation of an existing idea is it truly creative?
How can creativity be protected?

These are just some of the questions that float through my mind and so I have joined the blogging world in an attempt to try to find some answers. As a self-confessed techno-phobe this (hopefully) will be an interesting journey!

So please leave comments or share links to interesting articles/sites/blogs to help me on this quest!