Monday, July 18, 2011

My Creative Process (this could get messy)

My friend Darrell has asked some others to write about their experience in finding a creative process. Find out what they said by clicking the image above. Here is a quick explanation of my personal creative process.

What inspires me to create?
Do you know what I love about stories? It is the ability that a totally fictional character has to dig up emotions that people like you and I (real people) can relate to. How many of you cried during the beginning sequences of Pixar's UP? We see Frank fall in love as an awkward young boy, with the spunky girl down the street. We see the pain of discovering that they cannot have children. And finally we see Frank sitting at his wife's funeral at a loss for words. (Is someone cutting onions in here?)

I would play devils advocate and ask them why they cried. I heard responses like, “I haven't cried at a movie in ages, it was so sad.” or “Can you imagine loosing the one you love the most?”. It was then I point out to people that what they really cried at was a made up personality attached to meticulously arranged pixels with clever voice overs.

“It was more than that,” they would say. And I agree with them. Stories are powerful, even completely fabricated narratives can move us. And more so cartoons and unrealistic proportions can still connect with an audience. That is what inspires me to create. The ability to connect with others through a fabricated story with powerful themes and images.

So I'm what?
When I have an idea for a story or drawing I try to keep two principles at hand. I want to have complete control tightly grasped in one hand, and messy, chaotic creative chaos in the other. These two principles will keep your project streamlined and intentional, but fresh and new. I am a linear thinker. I like to have goals, and I like to have plans to achieve those goals. That is why it is so important for me to practice disengaging that part of my brain (I have a few blog posts about that Here, Here, and Here). Otherwise I run the chance of getting stuck in a rut and creating boring work that no one cares about, and worse I won't care about either.

Do you still feel stuck?
Don't worry about that. My good friend Thomas Culton, who I am writing my next short film with, told me an old German proverb one night when we were feeling lost in our own script. The proverb says,

 The proverb says,
"Begin to weave and God will give the thread."

So when in doubt start working. See where the project takes you. This is the messy, chaotic part of creativity. You can't wait for inspiration to find you, you have to go out and find it. It will be hard for a while, but you will eventually find something wonderful hidden in your imagination.

What is your creative process? How do you find inspiration? Let me know through a comment, or get at me on twitter or facebook.


  1. I am like you. I just have to start working. If I brainstorm, scratch notes, mind map, outline, I never get anywhere. I just have to start experimenting as @dvest said in his article. I work in tangibles and I need to see things before I can continue to run with them.

  2. That's an awesome quote; I very much agree on all levels. Almost every time I feel stuck it's because I don't START. The moment I do start, the world fades away and I'm engrossed in the process.

    Hopefully the "Find out what they said >here<" link will get fixed because I'd enjoy seeing what other artists had to say on the subject as well. :)

  3.  whoops!  I forgot to edit that.  You can just click the big banner on the top that says, "the personal creative process"

  4. I used to wait for inspiration to find me, but I never produced anything.  You are right one when you say that you have to go out and find inspiration -- good thought bro.

  5. Stuart, I love this perspective on story. Reminds me of Don Miller's book, "A Million Miles". What story are we telling with our art? A good challenge.