Creativity is a living breathing organism. Nurture it. Feed it.


By Cheryl Kees Clendenon – In Detail Interiors

It is that frenetic time of year for many of us. Business is brisk with holiday sales and gift giving, events are being scheduled, projects are still underway (holidays do not stop construction!). We also have end of year tax planning, projecting 2022 in a bizarre retail climate and the requisite family drama of some sort. Some days I go from high to low within hours.

You have to snap out of the funk because your job relies on you being at the top of your game. The creative product you deliver to your clients and customers suffers when you are visiting funky town for too long. It does not matter if you are a shop owner, designer or both, like me. You project your own attitude onto the mood of your team, clients and customers.

Let’s assume taking a month off and sitting on the beach drinking Mai Tais is only a dream and not a possibility. If it is, please stop reading and go pack your bags. But if you are the chief rainmaker and are dragging a bit some mornings, and have more lows than highs, take an afternoon to rev up your creativity quotient and replenish the mojo-making magic.

1. Multiply good karma.

Do something totally unexpected for someone else on your extended team, a favorite vendor, a client you know is having a rough time him or herself, a subcontractor — anyone really. Not like holding the door for a man in a wheelchair— you should do that every day — but something completely and crazily random, and 100% sincere.

Bake a pie for a sub, send lunch to your contractor, send an edible arrangement to a great customer service person at one of your vendors, send a card to a rep who has gone out of their way to help you, make some treat baskets for your UPS dude or dudette, mailman, lawn guys at your office — anyone who is unlikely to be in contact with you often on a real level but that you appreciate. Reach out in some way to the peripheral team you rely on.

Send this gratefulness into the world in a targeted and specific way and watch the creative juices flow. It just works. Do not ask me how, but I’m guessing it’s something about the endorphins and how helping others can make YOU feel good. And when YOU feel good then you are more creative.

Bonus points for doing a random act for two people — remember, make it someone in your business sphere just for the karmic work element!

2. Go to a museum. You can always go virtually if there’s no time to visit your local favorites.

Any museum is inspiring but it is a bonus if it’s an art museum. Go and take the rest of the afternoon off. Spend a good amount of time studying the paintings and thinking about the colors, texture, pattern and use of light and shadows.

Museums are overlooked as a creative boost for others who are not actually artists. They are always a place of mediation for me. Some find spirituality in a church, for me it is a museum.

3. Take a field trip to the beach, downtown, a cool neighborhood and take pictures of the extraordinarily ordinary.

Go somewhere different. A new place. Create some visual art with your phone. Get down low and take the shot, get on your back and take the shot, shoot something straight down to see what it looks like with a bird’s eye view. Anything out of the norm. Use the portrait mode and experiment with all the other features on your phone camera you never have time to learn.

The key here is to get out of your comfort zone, go somewhere you do not usually frequent, and look at ordinary things through a different creative lens. This exercise stimulates creativity and who knows, you may get some new art out of it!

4. Design something for fun. No rules. No clients.

A space with no parameters other than what you set is a designer’s dream. So dream a little! I have been lucky enough to do this for several brands and it was a fabulous opportunity to push my own boundaries. This is especially good if you want to add work to a portfolio site and do not have the work yet to present.

5. Learn something new.

Learning never stops. This is my motto. But even if you do not have time for a full-blown dive into growing bonsai trees, you can take an afternoon for an art class, a book reading, or a one-time class on self-defense. Maybe try a dance class, a class at Lowes or The Home Depot that teaches you something you did not know how to do, or even a self-study on how to program your new phone. (Okay, that one is on my bucket list!)

Be intentional about sustaining your creativity and feed it carefully throughout the year. Being an entrepreneur, retail shop keeper and lead designer can be exhausting at the holidays and this is the best gift you can give yourself.


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