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How to Improve Creativity: Insights from Our Founder

How to Improve Creativity: Insights from Our Founder

Artist Bruce Garrabrandt once said, "Creativity doesn't wait for the perfect moment." And that's definitely true. But sometimes there's a perfect moment to acknowledge creativity! That moment is now. In honor of the UN's "World Creativity and Innovation Day" on April 21st every year, we're celebrating the creative spirit. 

Park & Lex Founder Dana is the creative person behind the colorful beaded jewelry you see on this online shop. She conceives of all the designs, dreams up interesting color combinations, and then makes all the products by hand. Being creative is a major part of her identity, and it gives her the ability to bring beautiful jewelry to you.

Curious about how she's able to be so creative all the time? Wondering how to improve creativity yourself? Keep reading this Q&A with Dana to find some inspiration for your own journey. 

Have you always considered yourself to be a creative person, or did you realize that later in life?

Always. I was lucky enough to grow up with creatives – my mother is a fiber and jewelry artist like myself, my grandfather was an expert weaver and hat designer, and my uncle is a fine artist – so I was always encouraged to nurture my interest in the arts. The schools, extracurricular programs, and summer camps I attended growing up were always centered on creativity. I’m so grateful to have had my creative tendencies understood and nurtured from the time I was born.

Have you always expressed your creativity through jewelry designing/making? Do you have other creative outlets? 

I have many passions in the applied arts. I was never a competent painter or illustrator, even though I tried, but working with fiber and beads has always come naturally to me. I’ve spent my life needlepointing, crocheting, and knitting, all of which I love as much as designing and making jewelry. I’ve published many designs for knit and crochet, and have taught all of these techniques throughout my adult life.

What time of day do you feel the most creative?

I’m an incurable night owl. I’ve desperately tried to change my internal clock - especially since having a child - without success. The later the day gets, the more invigorated, inspired and motivated I become. There’s nothing I love more than working late into the night when so much of the world is asleep.

Can you describe your creative process?

The process can begin one of two ways. The first is feeling inspired by the materials. I’ll get a new bead or think of a color I want to use and start planning how to use it. I’ll decide what style of necklace, bracelet or earring I want to make and start building. 

The second is wanting to make a certain design or style. I’ll think of the type of piece I want to make - a color-block necklace, for example - and then I’ll take out all the beads I have in the color family I want to use and start narrowing it down.

Once I’ve started working on any given piece, I’ll evaluate as I go. If I’m not totally happy with the way it’s turning out, I’ll make adjustments. I’m a perfectionist, so I don’t mind undoing work I’ve done, even if it means I’ve lost a lot of time. The final piece needs to be “right”, and I’m not satisfied until it is!

What inspires you?

Everything. I get inspiration everywhere. Flowers, clothing, watching films and television, museums, shopping... I’m inspired by other artists but am very careful NEVER to copy. It’s essential to me that I’m always doing something different from everyone else. But sometimes I’ll see another jewelry designer use two different color gemstones in a piece, for example, and I’ll be inspired to use that color combination as well.

Can you describe a time when you faced a creative block, and how did you overcome it?

It’s very rare and fortunately hasn’t happened in a long time. When I do have a block, I feel really frustrated and unhappy.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to learn that feeling tapped out means it’s important to rest and refuel. I’ll usually take the opportunity to create order by cleaning up the mess on my desk or reorganizing my bead storage. Usually, taking out all my beads and finding a different way of organizing them creates a flood of new ideas!

If this doesn’t do the trick, I allow myself to take a break from beading altogether and work on something completely different, like a crocheted scarf, to get the juices flowing again. The break never lasts long!

Can you describe a time when you took a creative risk, and what was the outcome?

I’m not a risky person by nature (I play the $5 tables in Vegas!), so I don’t often try something completely out of left field. But I sort of feel like everything I do is a risk because I never know how something will be received. I might love a color combination or design, and then find that no one responds favorably. I never let that get me down, though. I’m very comfortable taking something apart and repurposing the materials.

Who are your creativity "heros" or people you look up to?

This may sound cliche, but my mom. Our artistic natures are very different - she's very “free”, while I’m more controlled. I always envied her lack of artistic inhibition and even tried to emulate her style when I was a little girl (without success). We’ve always worked well together because we balance each other out beautifully, and we continue to seek out each other’s opinions and advice on all our projects. She has made me a braver artist, unafraid of failure and willing to try things outside of my comfort zone. I'm very goal oriented, but she always reminds me to to enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

Anything else you'd like to share about creativity?

Everyone is creative in some way. People who think they have no aptitude for the arts or making things just haven't had the right guidance or found the right outlet. The reason I still teach is because I feel passionately that everyone can make something beautiful as long as they have the desire. Finding an artistic outlet - painting, dancing, playing the piano, knitting - will change your life. Go out there, try something new, and don’t be afraid!

What do you think? Do you feel more inspired to be a creative person and dazzle the world with your gifts? As Dana mentioned, if you're wondering how to improve creativity, then you simply need to keep pursuing your options until you find something that works for you. In the meantime, you can shop Dana's creative designs and benefit from her outside-the-box thinking.