Creativity never rests…until I say so!

I get about 3,000 (advertising) messages fired at me every day, I can choose from a huge range of streaming services, I have to think in the morning what I want to eat for dinner and I also have to think about an issue of a customer.

Huge number of impulses that I can all use perfectly as inspiration for unique ideas, silly puns or the answer to difficult questions. Because of this my creativity never stops! That’s all nice, but sometimes it doesn’t make me feel good at all!

Some people meditate, go to the sauna or lose themselves completely in a good book to relax… I have no patience for that at all. To calm down the hustle and bustle in my head, I have three ways to close myself off from all stimuli, but with which I continue to challenge myself creatively!

1. Music

Music is a very big outlet with which I give a soundtrack to my life and can let go of everything for a while.

For example, already through the routine of setting up an LP. The whole act of picking out one LP among 300+ LPs, carefully placing the needle and flipping the record almost feels like a religious experience at times. Wonderfully soothing.

Perhaps even more important than listening to music is making music. I taught myself to play the guitar at least 15 years ago, without having a single day of lessons. In 2021 it was time to give that musical muscle a new impulse, after I joined a local Leiden band as a vocalist and double bassist.

Contrabass was completely new to me, it plays completely differently than a guitar and moreover it fits 2x in length. Stubborn as I am, I didn’t want a lesson and wanted to figure out everything myself from finger positions to bass rhythms. I think it’s important to play by feel so that each song gets a creative twist and its own character. It is important that a synergy is created between the other instruments. It’s all about balance.

2. Photography

Like music, photography is for me a means to create my own world. A world as I see and experience it.

Everywhere I go, whether it’s a walk in the neighborhood or a vacation to Asia, I take my camera with me. I never think in advance what I want to photograph because I like to be surprised, it ensures that I go hyper-focused in search of a strong subject and that my working brain switches to sleep mode.

At such a moment I really focus on looking and approaching my subject the way I want. I train myself in this way to find creative compositions that do justice to the subject.

Although I use photography to take a break from work, it has helped me a lot to become a better art director. I have more eye for composition and detail. Two birds with one stone!

3. Capoeira

Capoeira is a Brazilian sport that is often mistaken for a dance, but nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, there is music, acrobatics and there seems to be a choreography with kicks and dodges, but those who don’t duck can get hit pretty badly.

Capoeira is very important to me because it has a musical aspect (uplifting music and singing) and it is a strategic game between two people. Within a circle with limited space, you smoothly circle around each other with a succession of acrobatics, kicks and dodges; with the aim of outsmarting and outsmarting each other.

During the game you get zero chance to think about other things than what is happening at that moment. You have to be sharp on what the other person is doing and be able to respond to it in a split second. But once you get into the flow of the game, instinct eventually takes over and you move on autopilot.

In addition to a physical effort, Capoeira is a very good brain training. It has also ensured that I can apply my creativity more quickly and that I can anticipate potential problems more quickly during a creative process. If one doesn’t work, then another way to reach my goal.

For me, these are the 3 ways to relax, have fun and recharge myself for a new, challenging assignment.

Where the mind goes de creativity follows.

Written by Max van den Berg