When it comes to generating new ideas, a lot depends – literally – on your point of view. As I stand looking out of my office window, I can see familiar sights: Lake Michigan, Buckingham Fountain, the Art Institute of Chicago, a small group of people gathered in the shade of a tree; 12 tennis courts; two groups of people playing with a Frisbee; and the architecture and sculptures of Millennium Park.
I could use any of these as springboards to new ideas. It’s like a math equation: Your Creative Challenge + Any Piece of Inspiration = A Brand New Idea. Oops, did I just suck all of the fun out of creativity by comparing it to math?
Let’s say my challenge is to name a new perfume for girls. I’ll choose tennis courts as inspiration. So what does that equal? How about calling it “15-Love” and using a tennis racquet in the brand identity? What if I need to increase attendance at a local history museum? My inspiration will be the Pritzker Pavilion designed by Frank Gehry. From above, the Pavilion’s arches make a diamond shape that reminds me of an argyle pattern, which reminds me of 1980’s fashion. So let’s hold a retrospective event at the museum, featuring the history of the ‘80s and that decade’s impact on culture.
If you don’t have a window with a view or a window at all, look around your work space. What surrounds you? Stacks of paper and files or objects that inspire contemplation? If you want to make more creative connections, consider stocking your work space with interesting items. White boards for outlining ideas, an Etch A Sketch, magnetic words stuck to filing cabinets, a cowboy hat, a pink boa, blue worry beads, folk art, Chinese lanterns, pictures of family, friends and beautiful vacation spots . . . all are things I see every day.
So freshen up your work space to refresh your creative thinking. Print poster-sized copies of your favorite photos, stick some poppies in water, and you’ve given yourself and your ideas a new point of view.
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