According to renowned British novelist William Plomer, the cornerstone of creativity comes from having a natural gift for connecting the seemingly unconnected, in profound and inspiring ways. However, a recent study at Harvard revealed that creativity is not only 85% learned, but something that can be oft underused by the majority of those who have a knack for it.
So how does one go about tapping into their fullest creative potential? After doing some research on some of the greats, we’ve come up with a creativity training plan that can be implemented during one incredible summer at The New School's Parsons School of Design, taking your natural creative gifts to an entirely new level with courses offered through their Open Campus.
1. Seek out new experiences.
Exposure to new experiences, sensations and states of mind have consistently been the strongest and most significant predictors of creative achievement and output. Top creatives have an intense amount of intellectual curiosity. Their minds are always searching for that extra spark, and nothing sparks the mind like trying something new, and the Summer Intensives at Parsons School of Design are a great place to start. The school offers programs from June to August for you to try new things in all kinds of fields, from graphic design and film to architecture and fashion merchandising.
2. Never stop learning.
This goes hand-in-hand with seeking out new experiences, especially if you want an advantage in today’s increasingly tech-savvy creative environment. Knowledge of basic coding (HTML, PHP) and editing software suites like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Flash is a must -- not to mention it comes in quite handy when designing a resume or portfolio that stands out from the rest. Workshops like Interior Design Studio, Fashion Merchandising,Introduction to Printmaking, or Design and Management can put you well on your way towards scoring interviews or collaborations with those at the top of their game.
3. Keep a notebook and pencil on hand at all times.
Raul Gutierrez, Founder and CEO of Tinybop, spends the first 15 minutes of the day in the empty office doodling, listening to music and thinking about what he needs to do for the rest of the day. Cracking open some empty pages allow you the ability to free your head of its ideas and begin jogging new ones, it can also lead to the most innovative of design concepts.
“I tend to create a lot of conceptual maps and little product drawings. Anything to recollect a spark or inspiration that occurs in a meeting,” says Mark Rolston, founder of Argodesign.
And according to Robert Fabricant, Principal of Dalberg’s Design Impact Group, drawing in a journal during meetings can actually help with concentration and information retention.
“I began capturing these [doodles] visually... as a sort of mnemonic device. I generally fill out a page or two of these little squares, which I can easily skim to remember not just the content but the intent of the discussion. These storyboards give me license to doodle, which helps me to maintain my focus as a visual person.”
Give brainstorming, sketching or doodling a try. Invest in a Moleskine or grid-style lookbook and enroll in a summer course that gives you the chance to practice those skills as often as possible.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
The most innovative people in the world are always asking the whys, whats, what ifs, hows, and why nots, rarely accepting things the way they are. Exploring tangible answers to these questions can be just the inspiration you need to begin designing a memorable logo, brand or clothing line that carries with it a greater depth and a more powerful meaning.
5. Switch up your environment.
Get out there and find something fresh or challenging to explore. The more you engage with new aesthetics, the more refined your tastes will become and the more sensitive your response will be to artistic beauty.
Consider a stint abroad or even a short road trip somewhere. The process of adapting to a different, unfamiliar culture or country forces your brain to make new connections and adopt an alternative perspective you wouldn’t have taken up otherwise. Travel or get your education this summer at one of the world’s top creative cities at Parsons’ main campus in New York, or one of its partner schools in Paris, Stockholm, London or Barcelona.
6. Surround yourself with inspiring people.
Surround yourself with peers who share the same passion and those who are experienced to help you grow in your field of interests.
As described on the school’s blog, Parsons summer program alum Courtney Denton, now the Key Leader and Community Lead at Lululemon’s girl’s line, Ivivva, took a Fashion Merchandising course and worked with "some of the most talented girls and guys from around the world” and “[made] everlasting friendships” that she was left wanting more after completing her summer intensive program at Parsons.
She credits her mentor for transformative advice like, “because the industry is becoming so small, you have to take everything into consideration, to keep your reputation”.
Courtney also stresses the importance of being present and staying connected. She reminds us,“so much of where I am at today happens to do with networking and following up with everyone you meet along the way.”
According to Courtney, staying connected with all the different people she’s met and the experience she's gained from her stay with the summer program at Parsons School of Design played a tremendous part in strengthening her knowledge and skills and and supporting her passion and career within the fashion industry.
Implement these steps to start off your journey to becoming a top creative. Sharpen your creative skills and work towards the next level of excellence. With all the cross-disciplinary courses available and network of inspiring peers and mentors, Parsons School of Design’s summer programs provide an intensive and progressive arena where you can discover new creative interests or continue to refine your life-long passions and transform them into a sustainable career and lifestyle.