Have you dream talked lately?

Artist Barrett Edwards’ dream walkin’ shoes

Have you dream talked lately?

With one to whom you can entrust your outlandish dreams?

Have you dream walked lately?

Down the path you wish to go?


Deep work is deep play

Cal Newport’s latest book Deep Work is a worthy read. Today we’ll stick to his definition of deep work, but later I’ll post tidbits from the book with the hope they’ll work like breadcrumbs to draw you into the text itself:

Deep Work: Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate. 

From Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport

In Burn, Baby, Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within I come at this from a different angle. What Cal calls deep work I think of as my creative practice. 

The creative practice approach replicates the feeling of a spiritual practice. In the same way you reverently come to a yoga practice, that’s how you come to your creative practice. With a set time period of engagement for pure focus time, connecting to the divine within before you begin.

Deep work is deep creativity is deep focus is deep play. Once immersed it is like swimming in a transcendent realm where the boundary lines between inner and outer disappear.

The Daoists call it wu wei. Effortless action.

We call it being blissed out. Or that we’re in the zone. Or in the flow. 

It’s the most serious fun to be had outside the bedroom.

For you 

Evan Griffith
Click here for (occasional) notes at the intersection of creativity and spirit. Once a month, maybe.

Check out this little book: 

Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within


Your creative ecosystem

Sculptor and artist Paul Tamanian works in the woods
outside of Tallahassee

Every creator is in the business of creating an ecosystem.

Before we parse out what that means for you, let’s look at what it means for a Fortune 500 company  in fact a Dow index company, one of 30  and the longest on the index. (Since 1896, that’s longevity.)

GE recently announced a major relocation of its headquarters, from Connecticut to Boston.

Here are the four most important factors GE cited for their new choice of ecosystem:


Long-term costs 

Quality of life for employees 

Education centers

GE’s leadership thought this out carefully. They want to be where they can hire the best. (Talent.) 
They’re looking at expenses, but really . . . this wasn’t an extreme qualification . . . it’s not as though they moved to Nebraska for its low-cost structure. 
GE also sought quality of life for its team, which means a great deal when you’re coming from Connecticut. You can’t move to rural Wyoming and expect your crew to follow. 

Then the final clincher: top flight education. So they can hire emerging brainiacs straight outta Cambridge.

. . . . . . .

Every creator who wants impact must cobble together an ecosystem. And every ecoystem differs. Even for those in the same field.

My wife and I are 19 years into the art gallery business. Through all manner of stumbling and sometimes accidentally clever innovation we’ve created a thriving ecosystem for our art gallery. 
It includes the team we work with, vendors, suppliers, the landlord, and an affluent community that values original artwork in its homes. 
It most certainly encompasses the way we do business. The way we deal with our clients. 
The gallery ecosystem even includes other small biz owners who have nothing to do with the art gallery business . . . yet are compadres in the wild world of commerce. They are the ones we confer with when we have an employee issue. Or need a solid caterer for an event.
There’s another gallery not far down the street whose ecosystem could not be more different. Ours are the only two galleries to survive the crash years in our locale . . . yet there is so little overlap in our ecosystems our paths seem to link only in our proximity to one another.
Let’s take artists as an example of how ecosystems vary even in the same line of work
For an artist the ecosystem may include galleries. Or maybe an artist bypasses galleries and lasers in on boutique retail outlets. For a different breed of artist, street fairs and music festivals may do the trick. Or sidewalk selling near a major museum in New York City. Or an artist may prefer direct selling through the internet and personal connections. 
Whatever it is, there is a sales side to it. The route to the final customer is as creative as the art itself.
This sales side is as different in kind as a Picasso from a Matisse.
There’s also a supply side. The tools and materials from which to craft their creations. The myriad vendors who make the artistic life possible. No artist unearths the minerals or synthetically composes the pigments they use. 
If an artist intends to make some part of their living from their art, then a network of peers and suppliers and clients must be assembled. 
And each artist’s network will look different from another’s. There may be overlap — this art dealer or that type of brush bristle — but overall the nodes are likely to be more dissimilar than identical. 

Your ecosystem needs to be cost effective and soul satisfying. 
An ecosystem isn’t built overnight — it’s tweak upon tweak upon tweak to get you to that place where your environment supports your creative practice.
Two elements get you farther along the road than anything else. Keeping your process affordable and making it pleasurable.
Jerry Seinfeld knew he had it made when he was earning a mere $50 a week, because he was minimalist before minimalism was cool.
Some important creative ecosystem components:

Location: Where do you choose to live? If you are serious about creating something in the world your first and most important choice is location. 
Early in your career it may be critical to be part of a scenius. A scene that promotes flourishing in your area of focus. A scenius is commonly located in an art town or a freewheeling creative area of a city. 
Later on you may prefer suburbia or ruburbia where I live (rural suburbs . . . secluded acre-plus lots), where you can inexpensively carve out the space and light you need to optimally create.

Tools and strategies: Now you can find almost everything you need via internet research. You can figure out what might work well for you. You can look up ways to overcome the most common obstacles. You can search for the best-rated products. You can read blogs on how to start down almost any path.
As easy as this sounds, are you doing it? Are you availing yourself of best minds and systems for what you want to accomplish?

Work space: Where do you work? Setting up a distraction-free zone enables the focus that creates significant work. We may all dream of the studio nestled in the woods, like my wife has . . . but a small bedroom, a corner in the garage, or an outdoor patio can suffice. 
Virtually everyone I’ve met or read of started in the smallest possible way. 
The critical element is carving out that space . . . and then making sure everything in it amplifies your mission.

Method: How do you work? When do you work? I think of this as my creative practice.
My preferred strategy is to engage in deep creative work for a minimum set time on gallery days . . . and to augment that time on my days off.
As a writer and art gallery owner it’s all about simplicity. What simple systems can I engage in?
I go into depth on this subject in the bookito Burn Baby Burn

Sales: How do you get your work out there? This is for those who want to be part of the conversation culturally.
If you want to make an impact you’ll need to consider how to promote your work. Marketing your creation is as much a part of the process as making it. 
Fortunately this means only one thing: Devoting time in your week to outreach. (Here’s an article on the distinction between audience and allies.) 

Support: Who supports you emotionally? Find these people, cherish these individuals. Support them in their endeavors too. Your allies make the difference between a long slog and a happy career.
Others uplift us through the day-to-day rough spots. 
It’s important to remember that we thrive by supporting others too! Nothing feels as good as making someone else feel good. To help somebody along their path is its own kind of salvation. 

Inspiration: As a creative it can be easy to lose heart. Forging an ecosystem isn’t for the faint of heart. I find keeping multiple and plentiful sources of inspiration close at hand to be the best antidote there is for the most common creative ailment of all time: whatthehellamIdoing disorder.
Steeping yourself in the successes and strategies of those who’ve made their way before you is like inserting vision boards into your prefrontal cortex. The stories seep into your unconscious and become part of your resource reservoir, to be drawn upon as needed.
. . . . . . . .

A personal note:

If you’ve read this far, it’s likely because you’re engaged in a creative endeavor of your own. You already have an ecosystem in place . . . or at least the beginnings of one if you are just starting out.
Do the work, enlarge your ecosystem: That will get you there. 
In fact, if you are enjoying the work as you build your ecosystem, you are already there. 

For you —

Evan Griffith
Add a little creative soul to your life. Click here to join the subscriber list for — you know — the occasional thing in your inbox.

Check out this little book: 

Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within


Fog and a dirt road

Sometimes all you need is the smallest of changes to stir your creative soul. Like this day, out for a morning walk in the fog — in South Florida of all places.

Fog and a dirt road lit up my brain pan. I returned to my creative practice revived . . . and ready to receive. (You know, thoughts and ideas and tweaks and such.)

Sometimes all you need is a walk. There’s a kind of reverie induced by walks that are difficult to come by through almost any other means.


A creative house is a comfy house

“In a creative house the dishes don’t always get done.” This blog post about creative house living started with this sentence.

In that paean to living creativity I neglected one of the most important aspects: Comfyness. 

In the photo above, you see Ann nestled atop two beanbags we just added to our very tiny media room/kid office (Zane’s got a small desk for homework in it.) With the short shag throw rug and these two oversize beanbags it’s officially been transformed into the kind of family room you really want to hang out in.

A comfy house is a creative house. Why? Because startling insights lurk in languorous moments.

Ideas love chill time the way insects love floodlights at night.

If you’re looking for a creative buzz, let yourself get bored in a real comfy spot. Keep a notepad handy. 

For you 

Evan Griffith
Add a little creative soul to your life. Click here to join the subscriber list for — you know — the occasional thing in your inbox.

Check out this little book: 

Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within


Before you leave 2015 in the dust…

Before you leave 2015 in the dust, consider honoring it with this exercise:

Make a list of everything that was satisfying in the past year.

My wife Ann never makes it to midnight on New Year’s Eve . . . so there I was at 10:20 alone on the couch. Our 12-year-old son Zane was gaming with our second son Sebastian, 20 (in reality, our nephew, but in a broader reality he is indeed our second son :).

As I floundered around for what to do next, something my friend Gil said hit me. In the week prior to 2016 he’d been working on a 2015 Accomplishments list.

Always up for a list, I grabbed pen and pad and scrawled this atop the page:

2015 Satisfactions

. . . And then went to town jotting quick notes on all the satisfying experiences from the past year. Some were real, over-the-top achievements  like how far we’d come financially. And launching the Burn Baby Burn bookito.

Other entries were happy-making additions to our household: Bibi the rescue Vizla. The suddenly affordable new kitchen when Lowe’s dropped its kitchen models to 75% off to clear the way for new models. Two hammocks my Mom (MomJo!) gave us.

Memorable moments with family and friends dotted the list. Art biz team members splashed across the page . . . 

By the time I rounded the corner on page one Sebastian peeked out to see what I was doing. He joined me on the opposite couch in no time, writing out his own list of 2015 awesomeness.

Midway through page two Zane slid onto the couch next to Sebastian . . . and there we were, three dudes whirring away silently with our pens to paper, recounting to ourselves all the amazingness we could recall from the previous 12 months.

You could feel the appreciation index in the room rising. I looked up mid-smile at one point . . . to witness half-smiles smeared across their faces too. 

I had yet another wonderful moment to record from 2015  the one I was living.

By Midnight O Two I had scrawled 5 pages worth. My hand was achy, my heart was breaky in the best kind of way.

Yes, we accidentally missed the advent of the new year, but no one was complaining. Methinks a new tradition was born in our household.

The New Year’s weekend won’t officially draw to a close till you go to bed Sunday night. So you still have time to create your own 2015 Satisfactions list. Hell, you can do this any time this week. There are no constraints.

Try it. You’ll feel like a slowly-inflating bliss balloon.

For you 

Evan Griffith
Add a little creative soul to your life. Click here to join the subscriber list for — you know — the occasional thing in your inbox.

Check out this little book: 

Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within