Destination Innovation

We are thrilled to be included in the current issue of Business Destinations magazine!

The article, about the connections between artists and business, identifies the artists' approach to problem-solving as a possible lifeline for struggling businesses. 

Comments from ALR Founder Noah Scalin are featured alongside stories about heavy-hitter artists like Takashi Murakami and Jeff Koons.

“The world is rapidly shifting, and what I’m told most consistently by the businesses I work with is that they are desperate to be more responsive and innovative. Artists are one of the most innovative groups of people on the planet, and we’ve developed skills to do this on a consistent basis.”

READ MORE.

A #CreativeSprint Show of Hands

We always start a #CreativeSprint in the same way, with a very simple assignment:

Make something that fits in the palm of your hand using only the materials in your immediate environment.

We start this way because its important to remember, when we take on any project, or want to make a change in our lives, that all big things started small.  It's about honoring the small seed that is within everyone to do some thing. 

What I love most about this is the intimacy of these pictures. Most are made from humble materials and majority photographed on open palms. It is like greeting a stranger by offering your hand and a little piece of yourself in introduction. 

Only day one and #CreativeSprint-ers are making me smile and feel all squishy inside! Looking forward to an amazing month, together.

 

Search #CreativeSprint on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to see more.

You can still JOIN #CreativeSprint HERE to get daily challenges through October 30th.

5 Reasons to sign up for #CreativeSprint NOW

Our October #CreativeSprint starts tomorrow, but it is not to late too join.

This 30-day challenge will give you daily activities to push and strengthen your creative muscles.

You don’t need to be an artist or even creatively inclined to participate. No special skills required or creative experience needed to participate. You will revive one email a day during the month 

SIGN UP HERE

Still not convinced? Here are 5 reasons to join #CreativeSprint, right now!

1. You’ll get a sense of accomplishment every day

Advertising executive, Bari N. Greenstein felt a unique sense of accomplishment after completing each daily #CreativeSprint assignment.

“It is entirely different from the way I feel successful at work. This challenge was entirely self-fulfilling. I wasn't doing it to get paid or recognized, I was doing it to learn something about myself, to test my limits, and to remind myself how important it is for me to have a creative outlet - too often I get lost and forget.” 

2. You’ll surprise yourself

New parent, Emma Gordon, did not think she’d find the time to be creative in her day but got a motivational surprise.  “I did my first creative sprint [activity] at 3:30 am after feeding the baby...After the first few days, I noticed something. Ideas where coming to me. Ideas that had nothing to do with #CreativeSprint.”

3. You can act like a kid

#CreativeSprint had Archie Miller, a team-manager at Carmax, doing some silly things and it helped him connect with his own children and his inner-child

“Playful acts should not die with maturity. As we get older we must fight negative forces that try to convince us things aren’t possible.”  

4. You won’t be alone

You will be working alongside - and maybe even collaborating - with an amazing variety of people.  #CreativeSprint participants are an international group of executives, managers, students, teachers, parents, artists, activists, techies, 

Margarita Korol, a social-impact focused artist used #CreativeSprint to share her process with the world, “Letting folks in on my rapid prototypes is really good for iteration and evolving ideas to the next level…#CreativeSprint is in the spirit of creating output and sharing at all phases, not just at the point where you might call something your masterpiece.”

5. You Might Create An Avalanche

A simple daily act can add up. Think of each day you participate in #CreativeSprint as a snowball you roll down a mountain. The more snowballs you create and launch the more likely you are to start an avalanche. Artist Noah Scalin saw it happen when he started Skull-a-Day, within weeks of daily making and sharing, his life and creative output was already changed.

“…this month was not about sharing great work, it was about creating a consistent thread around a practice that will help me get better at what I want to do.”

 

CLICK HERE TO JOIN #CreativeSprint.

 

 

WHY AN ARTIST WILL BE YOUR NEXT BUSINESS CONSULTANT

“Creativity is a skill that can be learned,” Noah Scalin declares. “The set of skills artists learn allows us to be consistently innovative and consistently come up with new ideas.”
— http://www.fastcompany.com/3051224/hit-the-ground-running/why-you-should-hire-an-artist-as-your-next-business-consultant

Every business's goal now is to innovate; do better, more efficiently and on top of that create meaningful engagements with customers and make a positive impact on the world. This is a tall order even for those organizations with lots of resources. 

"Why You Should Hire an Artist as Your Next Business Consultant" is a prompt we've used as a guide for our own development, over the past few years. We continue to ask ourselves what value can artists bring to this context and then create tools our clients can put to use immediately to solve their most pressing challenges. 

If you are ready to experience what our practices can do for you, SIGN UP FOR #CreativeSprint our 30-day challenge designed to generate creative momentum in anyone. 



Back to School

Fall is off to a running start! This season we were thrilled to have the opportunity to go back to school with several new clients. 

Noah kicked off #daVinciCreativeSprint with students at VCU daVinci Center with a presentation about what it takes to do what you enjoy, change the world and pay the bills. Afterward, they impressed us with their skull-making skills. 

Short Pump Middle School teachers invited us to kickoff their school year with a professional development workshop for their 60 teachers. We are passionate about arts education and arts-based learning in schools, so this was a particularly exciting day for us. Associate Principal, Jennifer Maddux shared her thoughts on the experience:

From the opening activity to the reflection at the end – everything was absolutely on point. I watched teachers that typically hide in the background, step into the spotlight and actively participate in their own personal and professional development. One teacher commented that today’s [session] was “the best professional development that he had ever been a part of.”

We created the orientation for Innovate LLP; a new interdisciplinary program at VCU that promotes in students the understanding of innovation and entrepreneurship. This group of college students, in different undergraduate programs, are all living and learning together for the next two years. Think: Real World plus Shark Tank. Kidding!

Our session allowed this group to get to know each other and explore collaborative working methods. We started out the day having them work in silence together to identify their common goals. Then, they broke into teams and took to the streets, making renegade art interventions to alter perspectives on the VCU campus. 

 

The Executive MBA program at VCU School of Business invited us to work with their second-year students, a group of leaders from a broad variety of backgrounds. They explored creative practices and built toolkits to help keep themselves innovative during their upcoming venture creation projects. Frank J. Franzak professor of marketing at VCU and the program’s coordinator offer these kind words:

Noah’s sessions made a terrific contribution to our program. Seeing creativity from an artist’s perspective was a worthwhile learning experience for me personally. I look forward to doing this again in future years.

Contact us to find out how we can bring creative practice to your professional development program.

Inspiring weirdness @alrcreates #vcu #vcuemba #CreativeSprint #ilovemyjob

A photo posted by Mica (@micawave) on

Pushing against the walls

Finding creativity within limitations is the theme for this month.

If I had a client who gave me an infinite amount of time and an unlimited budget to create whatever I wanted, I would be frozen. There was a time when I thought that if all of those constraints were removed I would be able to finally do the kind of work I wanted. However, I now understand that having a set of constraints within which I can creatively problem solve, is actually what has generated my most innovative work.

It’s only from narrowing down the options that creativity becomes possible, as you are forced to push against the walls that close you in.

Each week in June, we are sharing a creative activity to help put this idea into action. These may seem silly, but that's the point. We want to make it as fun a possible to try out new things and experience their effects without getting too caught up in the end result.

Expect to spend 10-15 minutes on this. You can try it once or every day of the week, if you like. Your job is just to be fearless, try it and share your experiences. See how we turned this exercise into a work of art HERE.

Don't forget to take a photo of what you do and share it online with #CreativeSprint & @ALRCreates.

Sign up at CreativeSprint.co for more challenges and creative practice ideas.

 

Getting out

I remember every spring in elementary school, pleading with teachers to let us have class outside, to no avail. It is quite likely that getting 25, 8 year-olds to focus on spelling words while distracted by playground equipment and fresh air would have been near impossible BUT as adults we are all too complacent about our physical work spaces. 

Certainly, some things need to get done while sitting in front of a computer, but when its time to get thinking, your desk is the least creative place you can be. The purpose of this month’s #CreativeSprint challenge is to explore how the physical relationship to your working environment changes your creative energy. The tasks we gave are designed to show how a small change in environment can create perspective shifts and open you up to new possibilities.

At ALR, we practice what we preach, so we held our monthly NYC meeting on the terrace of the Whitney Museum of American Art, instead of our usual office meeting room. We also took on the challenge individually. 

WHAT WE DID

NOAH: One morning I had a meeting at a coffee shop and then stayed to work on my laptop rather than rushing back to my office. After an hour I realized that none of the work I had to do actually required me to be in my studio, so I just moved along to another coffee shop and stayed out of my office for the rest of the day. 

MICA: I took breaks to go outside and draw clouds and other natural forms. This was challenging at first because I was trying to hard to make the drawing look like something and really moving too fast, but eventually I was able to focus on observing and not trying to recreate reality. I had to slow down a lot to allow my hand to keep up capturing what I was seeing.

AMY: I was on my way to facilitate a workshop and running a few minutes early. I walked by a park and found a seat at a weather-worn checkers table. Normally when I'm early, I'll use my phone to work on documents or check the news. Instead, I took a deep breath and simply observed the world around me. It was cloudy and grey, so I was inspired to use colored markers to create a sun!

WHAT WE LEARNED

NOAH: It allowed me to enjoy a beautiful day on my bicycle that I would've entirely missed staying indoors, I connected with several people who I wouldn't have run into otherwise, and I still got all my work done. 

MICA: After doing this for a few days in a row, I noticed was getting into a focused mindset faster, each time. I started to really look forward to my outdoor drawing break. It is a good reminder of how simple it can be to give myself new perspective; by taking the time to step away from my computer and observe what is around me without judgment. 

AMY: I left the checkers table feeling refreshed and walked into my workshop with a clear and focused mind.

HOW WE'LL USE IT 

NOAH: Even though I know that I solve my biggest creative problems when I'm not at my desk it really took this challenge to force me to make it back into a daily habit. Spending just an hour of my day working outside of the office has created an entirely different working experience for me. I've been more relaxed and more productive at the same time!

MICA: I am going to make 5-10 minutes of nature drawing a regular work-day practice to help me refocus and get my head clear. It’s like a smoke, coffee or candy break with no negative side-effects! 

AMY: Sometimes, especially in a city like New York, I get caught up in the hustle and bustle. I will be early to workshops in the future and find a place like the park to observe, sit, and simply breathe.

Check out some of the great posts from other people who took on the May #CreativeSprint challenge...

L-R: Bari and Melissa  found all of the letters in their names while taking a photo-hunt walk. 

L-R: Debbi and Emma are taking time out to observe nature.

When was the last time you took a meeting outdoors? Went on a photo hunt instead of a coffee break? Or intentionally got your head in the clouds? Do you have other techniques for getting out of your environment at work? 

Sign up at CreativeSprint.co for more monthly challenges.

Explore your creative practice with us

The April #CreativeSprint got such a great response that we are planning to launch another 30-day challenge in a few months! 

It was a lot of work to put the last month together and we want to take the time to revise and rebuild to make sure it remains fresh and exciting. In the meantime, we don't want to loose the momentum so we are launching monthly challenges that anyone can join in on. 

We will share a theme related to creative practice and give you a few activities to try out for yourself.  You may interpret these as literally or broadly as you like. Try them out as many times as you want to (once, daily, weekly). Invite friends, family, coworkers to join in. Just be sure to take a photo of what you do and share it online with #CreativeSprint & @ALRcreates . You'll also be able to use this to see other people’s experiences and learn how they are approaching this creative practice in their personal and professional life. 

Then, join a LIVE YOUTUBE CHAT with Noah Scalin FRIDAY, MAY 15th 12pm ET.  He will share his experience with this month's theme and take your questions.

Your May Challenge:

Get out of your environment

 

"The picture above is a temporary outdoor installation I made during the 2013, Governor's Island Art Fair in New York City. It is a portrait of physicist Richard Feynman made entirely of flower petals (see more here).


Time and time again, in my discussions with other artists, the point is made that getting out of your environment is one of the best and simplest ways to get the creative process rolling.

No matter how inspiring your workspace is, there’s only so much creative work that can be done within it. Of course if you’re in a place that’s not inspiring to begin with, the need to be elsewhere is even more urgent. And since most people spend the majority of their time indoors, they’re missing out on a much wider world of inspiration right outside the door.

The purpose of this month’s challenge is to explore how the physical relationship to your working environment effects your creative energy. You will see how even a small change in environment is powerful way to creating perspective shifts and open you up to new possibilities."

Don't forget to take a photo of what you do and share it online with #CreativeSprint & @ALRCreates.

Sign up to get these monthly challenges in your inbox HERE.
 

Creative Practice at Etsy

Last month we had the great pleasure to participate in the Good Experience Live conference in NYC. The first day of this 2-day event featured a series of diverse speakers all tackling the issue of impact in user experience, in one way or another.

I was particularly moved by several speakers who employed their creativity to address a complex problem that concerned them and included the stakeholders in the process: Nancy Lublin CEO of Crisis Text Line, Nikki Sylianteng creator of To Park Or Not To Park who invited the public into her design process, Omar Ishaq a Radiation Oncologist at NYU who uses photography to get a deeper understanding of patient experiences (Human Theater) and Jordyn Lexton former high school teacher who created Drive Change to combat recidivism rates for formerly incarcerated teens.  Their earnest stories shared the resilience, adaptability and resourcefulness required to have a meaningful impact. 

noah scalin sketches of speakers at GEL conference for his #CreativeSprint 

noah scalin sketches of speakers at GEL conference for his #CreativeSprint 

For a more thorough recap of the event read Aiden Heller's great blog post for The Big Picture research and design, HERE.

After hearing all these great stories, everyone was ready to roll-up their sleeves and make something happen. We ran a workshop on Collaborative Culture, Sustainable Growth and the Power of Creative Practice at the Etsy Labs in Brooklyn.

Participants got a chance to experience A Year in A Day, making multiple variations on a theme using limited resources on a strict deadline.  As the subway trains rumbled towards the Brooklyn Bridge just outside the windows, the group powered through their challenge, surprising themselves and each other. After celebrating their efforts, we dug into a discussion about how creative practice can be used to impact individuals and motive entire organizations to innovate and grow. 

#CreativeSprint Home Stretch

I had to start this post with rainbows because it was just such an uplifting (and surreal) feeling to visit Instagram this morning and see this. I felt like I was Dorothy waking up in Oz only better, because it wasn't a dream! 

As we come into the home stretch of our 30-day challenge, it is these experiences that are getting me thinking about the tremendous potential for all the amazing things we can do together in the future. And that is really what creative practice is all about; exploring, testing, experimenting, playing and discovering what our own unique and authentic contribution can be to making the world better for ourselves and those we share it with, every day

This past week's tasks focused on different ways to collaborate and work together.

We took suggestions from friends.

We started something for another to finish.

We were inspired by other people's jobs.

We collaborated with other #CreativeSprint-ers.

We created games.


Only a few days left! Be sure to follow @ALRCreates and search #CreativeSprint on Instagram and Twitter to see more as we cross the finish line of this 30-day challenge.

SIGN UP HERE to join our global community.