Thirty-one miles outside of Portland in Scappoose, OR, a world-renown design studio generates over-sized puppets and sets. Michael Curry and his team conjure and build for animated movies, Broadway productions, Cirque du Soleil, Olympic games, touring superstars and … you get the picture. Last year he spoke at TEDx, hosted by Concordia University.
Twelve minutes into The Golden Moment, Curry shifts from displaying elaborate samples of his studio’s work to the thought process leading to its creation. Without being flashy or trying to convince, he notes his dissatisfaction with the creative community. Then he describes a simple antidote.
Don’t parody. Don’t even scan to see what others are doing. Demand of yourself that you not become generic.
Give yourself a moment to be original and find your own spark. Don’t do it sitting down. Move. As you consider the problem, the opportunity, the quest for solutions, let your mind (your supercomputer) fire off. Capture your “blushes of ideas” as they occur. Write or scribble them. All of them. Be spontaneous with the process to allow free-association.
You may worry nothing will come. That’s okay. Allow the moment to terrify you. Wait. Stay with it. In my experience with parallel techniques, one has to tolerate discomfort long enough to discover how it dissipates. It takes more patience than most of us like to exercise. But the wait is worth it. The best ideas bubble up to the surface once the void has been traversed, after there’s been a space created for something not-usual to come through. For those who need a more active technique for emptying out and opening up, Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way is tried and true.
Michael Curry’s departing tip is not unlike what all masters of craft tell their disciples. Practice.