What is a conducive atmosphere for creating stuff? When I say atmospheric, I mean more than a studio or a corner of your home where you can set up your easel or laptop. I’m talking about atmosphere on a deeper level … the sort of invisible environment that nourishes and feeds the creative spirit.
To give you an idea of a creative environment, I’ll quickly tell you of one that isn’t.
Me and my colleague are in a bank looking to set up Internet Banking. We are told to go upstairs to see Clive. We are pointed to a lift. Feelings of officialness are swelling. We get in the lift. Note that the walls of the lift are covered in grey coloured carpet. Nice. PING. Lift doors open. Walk out into a narrow, grey corridor. Note that these walls also have chewing gum grey carpet on them. Hmm. Clive comes out of a door and welcomes us. Shakes hands. Feelings of officialness now reaching a peak never experienced before. Enter Clive’s office.
Sit down on official chair and glance around office. It’s empty. The walls are painted two-tone grey. The carpet is black. The ceilings have those little square panels with little holes in, like you get in hospitals. One window – high up. No view. One desk, one printer, one computer, one leather file lined up in a neatly OCD fashion on the edge of the desk. One Clive. Smiling and lacing his hands.
Setting up the Internet Banking was brief and pain-free. Clive was smiling and helpful and continued to try and be most official whilst I gaped around his box like a five year old in Cash n Carry. I just couldn’t stop gaping. And gawping. At one point I wanted to reach over, place my hand over his and say “Clive. How do you cope with working in here? Clive, this is not life. Come with me. Leave this place.”
Didn’t though. Thought Clive probably knew what he was doing. Thought he was used to it.
Left office. Went down in lift. PING. Hurried through bank. Emerged onto street like a diver who has been exploring the silent, oppressive ocean only to break the surface of the water. Hit with warm sunshine. Noises. People. Bustling, Colour. Air. Movement. Sound.
To me, Clive’s office did not offer a creative atmosphere. Here are a list of atmospheres that I believe DO offer an environment of rich creative nourishment;
City Mouse/Country Mouse:
I’m a country mouse and I’m used to it, so cities offer me massive inspiration. Not just the big, old architecture, but also the new, futuristic buildings, the ramshackle kebab houses, the rumbling roads, tree-lined avenues, historical sites. I like the innovation, the ideas, the fact that opportunity lurks around every corner. If you are a country mouse, get to the city. If you are a city mouse, go and sit in a field and watch the butterflies. Diversity nourishes the soul.
Have Tea With Miss Chief;
A creative atmosphere isn’t just in a place, it can also be in a relationship. One of my most productive creative times is when I hang around with naughty people. When I say naughty, I don’t mean bad, just people who share your sense of mischief and comedy. If you haven’t got one of those friends, get one. If not, make one up into and go out with them. (This works well as you can blame the invisible person if you get yourself into trouble.) Pinching random peoples’ bottoms is not allowed.
I once realised that when people grow up it’s not so much about mentality but more about size. The higher our heads become on our necks, the less we seem to inhabit the world around us. This realisation happened whilst I was crouching in a park. I suddenly spotted the most excellent hedge to create a den beneath. Had I been “up there” in grown up world I’d never have seen it. But down here I was in the same head space as I’d been as a child. I believe one of the most creative atmospheres is to enter Child World. See things fresh. New angles. New perspectives. Build a den. Sleep in it. Eat sweets. Stay up all night and go ghost hunting. You can! You’re an adult now. How coooooool is that?