I've always felt that being creative is different than being weird. Think about that for a second. If I were to describe one of my friends, and say, hey, this friend of mine, Travis, he's really creative, you'd think about him in a certain way, probably in a positive light, but if I were to say, you know, my friend, Travis, the guy is just weird. You would think, well there's something a little bit off, maybe something a little bit wrong. You know, creativity isn't just about doing things differently for different sake. It's about trying to do things in a way that's authentic to who we really are, and the more that our creativity can fit who we are, the better off we'll be. Now, this whole idea of fit, I think, was illustrated perfectly in this experience I had. I was photographing this calligraphy artist, and she's one of the best calligraphy artists in the world, and she is really fun, and she was writing these beautiful scripts, and I noticed that her pen was unique, and I asked her...
, I said, well, what's the story with your pen, and she said, well, when I was studying calligraphy, I was studying under this master calligrapher, and at the end of my time there, he said you're ready for your pen. And I said, what are you talking about? And he said, you're ready. He said come into my studio, and so, she came in and there was a box. He said, I want you to reach your hand into the box. I want you to feel for the pen that fits your hand, and she said, as she was feeling the pens, she was hoping that she was gonna select one that was aesthetically beautiful as well, and she selected the pen that was a perfect fit, and there it was, and I think there's something really neat about that story, about having the tool which is the perfect fit for who we are, and if we want to become more creative, it isn't about impersonating, or trying to be someone else. It's about being our authentic selves. I think this can be seen in fashion as well. I was hanging out with one of my friend, Brian, and he was wearing this really cool jacket he just got at a thrift store in Paris. He had returned to the states, and I was like, aw Travis, can I try that on? And I put it on, and it just looked kind of goofy on me because we were different sizes. The fit wasn't right, and if we want to be creative, or if we want to have that sense of style, or that vision and voice, which is unique to us, fit is a really important thing, so how then do we being to develop or maybe even find our own vision and voice? Well here I have just a couple of ideas. The first one comes from a friend, Jeff Johnson, who's a mountaineer, rock climber. He does other things as well, but I was talking with him about climbing and mountaineering, and he was saying that, when you climb, there are different climbs that are rated by their degree of difficulty, and as a climber, you start at the bottom of the degree of difficulty, and then you move up. Let's say it's one, two, three, four, and five, or whatever it is, and if you try to skip to a higher level, sometimes you'll be able to accomplish that climb, but you'll do so in just an awkward way, so to have good style as a climber, it's not just about leap frogging to the next thing, but really mastering that level, and then moving ahead. So here's the lesson for you and I. Sometimes we see someone do something amazing and great and we think we have to do that thing, but rather than leap frogging and jumping ahead of ourselves stick where you are, do good at that, and then, slowly make your way up, and what that will help you to do is to not impersonate, but to have your own voice, your own vision, you own authenticity in what you're doing. All right, the second thought I have for you is to begin to think about your aspirational style. Well what kind of style do you really want to have? One of the ways that you can think about this is analogously. I like to make comparison to perhaps things like music. Say well, I want my photography to be more like acoustic guitar and less like electric, more like music that has a little bit of distortion, and perhaps, not quite so clean, music that's like the cello versus the violin, whatever it is, you get the idea, and sometimes when we think about it in a different way, it helps us to define what we really want to achieve, and so, I encourage you to think about that with your own stuff that you create. All right, what are the action steps? One, what we want to do is begin to brainstorm different ways that we can define our aspirational style, not the style you have now, but the one you want to get to one day. The second thing is to begin to ask others how they would describe their own style themself. You meet someone who is a photographer, and let's say this photographer creates landscapes, or portraits, or whatever it is. Ask them, well hey, how would you describe your style? Hear it from them, and you'll often get words that you can then use yourself because when you hear them describe it, you'll say, oh, right, that's the element, that's the little thing that sets them apart, that makes them have their own unique voice, and the more that you can take time to do this stuff, the greater the chance that you'll have a style, or a vision and voice that fits who you are, and ultimately, the better work that you can create.