From the time I was a kid, I loved creating. I loved drawing and painting. I loved listening to my Dad tell stories and telling my own fanciful ones. My family would always say, “That Ryan is so creative!”

In my adult years I decided to go into graphic design school for college. From photography to sculpture, or animation to hand printing, I have always had a love for all things creative. I’d obsess over the new trends and techniques in art. I loved being in the creative world and surrounded by creative people.

The problem? I never felt creative. I always battled fierce insecurity when it came to creativity.

Everyone else seemed to come up with the original ideas.  I would do a school project, and look with envy at all the other more-imaginative projects. I loved drawing comic book characters, but had to mostly trace them. I was crippled by perfectionism. I would end up with projects I hated and would throw them away after I finished them.

But over the years, God has kept me in the creative realm. Whether it’s in my church, or OUTCRY I am consistently in a place where I am looked at as the “creative one” in the room, and that can be a lot of pressure! And, if I’m being honest, I am still plagued by the same struggles that held me back as a child. But I have learned that many of these struggles can be strengths. I have grown to love the chaos of creativity and understand that self-conciousness is a crucial part of the creative process.

I’ve also learned that everyone can be creative. Creativity isn’t as mysterious and elusive as we perceive it to be. Ultimately to be creative means that you are thinking outside of the box (whether societies box, or your own) and taking risk to try something new.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Creativity isn’t as mysterious and elusive as we perceive it to be[/pullquote]

So here are 3 quick principles I’ve learned over the years to help me stay creative!

Stay Flexible

Toward the end of 2016 I was re-branding OUTCRY tour for 2017. I found a painter named Jim LePage who photographed paint smears that were just mesmerizing! Very Jackson Pollock. And instantly I was sold! I worked weeks to integrate it into the design. I bought the rights, and had it all packaged up. I sent it out to the team to start integrating into social media, web, video etc.

Then I got a text from someone on the team. It  simply said “Ryan, have you seen the new Hillsong design?” I hadn’t, but it felt ominous.

Sure enough it looked very similar to what I just sent out! As much as I loved it, I had to immediately dump it and start over. And now we were late! Ultimately I fell on a Mars design (that I talked about in this OUTCRY blog) and I loved it even more. But I had to stay flexible and willing to dump a lot of hard work to get to the right direction. Let go of the good to get to the great.

Seek Feedback

This is hard for everyone. But some feedback comes from people you don’t want to listen to! I try to purposefully seek out feedback from two different types of people. First, someone that intimidates me creatively. This is scary, but totally worth it! Second, someone that is totally disconnected from it, to give me the “average Joe” opinion. This will give you invaluable, gut-instinct from an every-day perspective.

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]create an atmosphere where you can talk about areas of improvement[/pullquote]

For a team, the culture of feedback comes from the top down. If you lead, create an atmosphere where you can talk about areas of improvement, without people feeling like they “screwed up” or that their job is on the line. And don’t give feedback when emotions are high (ie. on Sunday morning). Wait till everyone can talk rationally and without drama.


Make Creative Risk a Habit

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Don’t wrap your personal identity around your creative work[/pullquote]

When you create something, there is always a fear barrier the minute you show someone else. But this is natural. It’s actually good. It shows that you took risk and put yourself on the line. But the fear can go too far. Don’t wrap your personal identity around your creative work. Its just something you created, it doesn’t define who you are. Cross that fear barrier often. Make it a habit and your creative work will get exponentially better!


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