My first international presentation on The Peach & The Coconut was for AIGA, The Professional Association for Design, on February 12, 2013. The concept of The Peach & The Coconut was the centerpiece, but the title at the time was, "Out of Your Skin: Understanding Culture and Difference."
My partners, Scott Hammond, Danny Damron and I are putting the final touches on our book, The Peach and The Coconut." We are expecting to have it published in the first part of next year (2017). We are also excited to have an online course being prepared to be released to over 50 universities.
In the meantime, this original presentation from 2013 is available for you to watch the slides and listen to the presentation. Look for the play button below the main image.
Out of Your Skin: Understanding Culture and Difference
30 minute presentation plus questions (51 minutes)
I am participating in a new networking group here in Utah called Tribalry. In the group, we focus on entrepreneurship and one person asked the question, "How do you balance the power of creativity and creation with the mundane and (seemingly endless) list of must-dos RELATED to your field?"
The questions sparked some thoughts that I want to share with you.
Balancing the mundane tasks against the big-project creative work has always been a challenge for me. In the past I did the creative work late at night, but I found that my health suffered and I have had to find a way to do the big projects during work hours. I compare the mundane tasks to popcorn. The tasks are always popping, they are usually shorter and there are often many popping at once. This process is antithetical to long-form creative work and keeps pushing it off. Here are a few strategies I have used to get the creative work done.
1. Schedule the creative work. Sometimes this means I actually put it on my calendar, but mostly not. I just know that creative work is best done in blocks of time from two to four hours. I guess there are smaller blocks as well, down to 30 minutes, but I'm going to focus on long-form right brain activity. Over the years as a designer, creative advertising writer and marketing strategist, I have learned that there are phases to creative work. Usually there is a transition time where you are still distracted and having a hard time focusing. This might take 30 minutes -- stay put! Clean up your space, fiddle with the elements of what you are working with, but stay put. After this, I get into a phase where my brain waves are, I think literally, shifted into long-form right brain wave lengths. This is when the real work gets done. This phase takes an hour to three hours. It's almost like a working trance. then there is a shorter transition to come out of it. the key to the whole process is that you know it takes a dedicated, highly-focused block of time. Just knowing you need to set time aside can help. You might need to find a place where family won't interrupt or help them understand that you need to focus intensely and that they should not be offended if you are abrupt and not helpful during those times.
2. Use triggers and cues to help the transition. My second strategy is to use triggers to help speed the transition into right-brain mode. I use certain kinds of music to help my brain change from short wavelength, popcorn activity to longer wavelength mode. I specifically use world lounge music. It's usually in a foreign language so I can't get distracted by the words and the loungey club beat drives forward. For highly technical work, like legal documents or detailed strategy, I listen to a Glenn Gould station on Pandora. It's a lot of contrapunctal fugues and classical piano music that helps drive more logical thinking. Another strategy I use is location. For fine art type work, I have an antique drafting table and a certain spot in my home with all of my art supplies handy. Just sitting down in this space has become a trigger to change my mood and to get me into drawing, painting, collage or bookmaking mode. Maybe if you are a creative writer, you could have a separate location that is decorated to inspire your work and where you only do that kind of work. So when you go there, your mood and brainwaves start to change by habit.
Even with these tricks, I still have a hard time making the transition from popcorn work to long-form work, but they help.
In 2003 I was president of the AIGA Center for Cross-Cultural Design. Some of our team members in Los Angeles, including Toni O'Bryan proposed a collaboration with Cuban design organizations Centro Pablo de la Torriente Brau and Prográfica. With the embargo, it was risky. But with the pro bono guidance of a top New York attorney, with expertise in dealing with Cuba and the Treasury Department, we found a safe way. We focused on simply sharing information and ideas and to produce posters promoting peace between the United States and Cuba. The team even traveled to Cuba with proper permissions.
This collaboration led to the creation of seventy posters by an equal number of Cuban and U.S. designers on a variety of subjects. The overall theme and name of the program was Sharing Dreams Compartiendo Sueños: Cuba and the U.S. Cross the Digital Divide. The program ran from 2004 through 2008 and the posters were exhibited everywhere from Havana to Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and many other locations in the U.S.
Today's visit by President Obama's to Cuba is a major milestone in having these dreams come true. The Cuban people are far from free, but at least the senseless U.S. embargo is ending.
Here's to peace and freedom for the Cuban people!
See the posters and read more about the Sharing Dreams / Compartiendo Sueños program.