We talk a lot about magic here at Flauk. And, as Director of Alchemy, I am the self-appointed converter of all brilliant base elements into solid digital web gold.
We all struggle with taking the raw ideas floating around in our heads and transforming them into something bursting at the seams with sparkly magic. Whether you’re a natural born creative or a hard and fast logical left-brainer, we all face the curse of the white blank page in the same way. Cultivating a consistent headspace that is ripe for inspiration to strike is essential to making sure you’re ready to create when that bolt of creative lightning hits.
As a book nerd and a certified Netflix documentary binger (the more you know, the more you grow, right?), I’d love to share with you some of the reads and watches that have left me giddy to go out and create magic. All touch on the subject of priming your head and your space for creativity, and each contains a unique perspective on what it means to be a creative and how to mine through the dusty hard rocks for pure epic gold.
1. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.
Love or hate Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert approaches the topic of creative living in this book more beautifully and honestly than any I’ve read before – with a delicate balance of practicality, discipline, and magic. I tore through it in one day, and was left with a completely shifted perspective on what an “artist” truly is, inspired by the wonder of the creative process, and with a set of new tools on how to jumpstart creativity in my daily life.
“With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.” -Amazon
Basically, your fear is like a mall cop who thinks he’s a Navy SEAL: He hasn’t slept in days, he’s all hopped up on Red Bull, and he’s liable to shoot at his own shadow in an absurd effort to keep everyone “safe”.
You have two eyes, two ears and 1 mouth, use it in that proportion. -Episode 8 Interior designer Ilse Crawford
This is by far the best series on design, creativity, and art I’ve ever come across. Each episode explores a star in a specific design discipline, from futuristic shoe crafting to skyscraper innovation, and journeys the dark and light of what it means to be truly creative, how changing the game doesn’t happen overnight, and how pioneers are building creative-focused businesses that change the landscape of our daily lives without us even realizing it. Like any great Netflix series, you will be riveted by the storytelling, the production value, and the humans that are featured.
“Design isn’t a dark art. Websites don’t build themselves. Neither does typography kern, nor cities plan. People do all those things. The new Netflix series Abstract, tries to help people not only see the built, designed world, but understand how it gets that way.” -Wired
“Just get out there and experience life. That just gives you a library in your head to then translate that into unique, new design work.” -Episode 2 Shoe designer Tinker Hatfield
My Favorite Episodes:
Bjarke Ingels: Architecture
Architect Bjarke Ingels unites function, fantasy and sustainability in “pragmatic utopian” designs like a clean power plant topped with a ski slope.
Paula Scher: Graphic Design
Graphic designer Paula Scher paints with words, developing the visual language of iconic brands and institutions around the world.
Tinker Hatfield: Footwear Design
Tinker Hatfield’s background in architecture and athletics sparked his game-changing shoe designs for Nike, including the iconic Air Jordan series.
For me, a very complex world has to be simplified. Has to be stripped down. And design, for me, was a way out of confusion. Because great design simplifies a very complicated world -Episode 7 Photographer Platon
3. Chef’s Table
In order to grow and to improve, you have to be there a bit at the edge of uncertainty. -Francis Mallman
I’m a chef in my other life, so this series, which features the most innovative and creative culinary stars from around the world, is my ultimate source of creative inspiration. If you love food, you will lose your mind over the #foodporn production and displays of jaw-dropping artistry, and marvel at the creative process of the culinary geniuses. And like any good documentary series, it’s not just about food, but grit, growth, business, failure, community, and connection.
My Favorite Episodes (they’re all incredible, so it’s beyond difficult to choose!):
Season 1 Episode 4: Niki Nakayama
In her award-winning Los Angeles restaurant N/Naka, Niki Nakayama brings equal parts creativity, passion and expertise to her kaiseki cuisine.
Season 2 Episode 4. Enrique Olvera
Chef Enrique Olvera transforms Mexico’s most savory street foods and traditional ingredients into award-winning dishes at his Mexico City restaurant.
Season 3 Episode 1. Jeong Kwan
In South Korea, Buddhist nun Jeong Kwan approaches cooking as a spiritual practice. But her meals have left some of the world’s best chefs in awe.
Season 4 Episode 4. Will Goldfarb
After rocketing to fame with his avant-garde desserts, Will Goldfarb abruptly left New York for a new start in Bali, land of fresh cocoa and vanilla.
4. May it Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers
“Decide what to be and go be it” – “Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise,” I and Love and You
Creativity manifests in many forms, and one of my most beloved mediums is in the storytelling and artistic expression of music. The Avett brothers are one of my favorite bands, an Americana duo with a unique gift for crafting stories that touch the deepest parts of your heart causing spontaneous tears while also getting you grooving and singing at the top of your lungs in the car. The documentary gives a uniquely intimate look at their creative songwriting and recording process, what inspires them to create, and the long and winding road to success.
“Because Seth and Scott write together, one point of fascination is collaborative songwriting, and what exactly it looks like when it’s not another name for half the songs coming from one writer and half coming from the other. You watch them writing what became the song “I Wish I Was,” from stubs and strange ideas, from eyes closed in concentration, and little leaps that come from improvisation.”- Npr.org
“Filmed with extraordinary access over more than two years, MAY IT LAST: A PORTRAIT OF THE AVETT BROTHERS is a deeply intimate and revealing look at the Grammy Award-nominated North Carolina band fronted by Seth and Scott Avett. Directors Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio chart the Avett Brothers’ decade-and-a-half rise, while chronicling their 2016 collaboration with famed producer Rick Rubin on the critically-acclaimed album “True Sadness,” released on American Recordings/Republic Records. Using the recording process as a backdrop, the film depicts a lifelong creative partnership put to the test as band members undergo marriage, divorce, parenthood, illness, and the challenges of the music business. More than just a concert documentary, MAY IT LAST is a meditation on family, love, and the passage of time.” avettbrothersfilm.com
5. How I Built This Podcast
I think luck only happens when you are actively moving and searching for what is next. I think when you are at home saying “man things are not happening to me” Sure! What are you doing at home? Go and walk! I don’t care where. Start moving. Look for the horizon. I was looking for my horizon. – Episode: Celebrity Chef Jose Andres
While not specifically about creativity, How I Built This is bursting at the seams with the best and brightest business owners around. I know one thing for sure: you do not get to where they did without pure and simple innovation and creative thinking. Every episode dives deep with the founders of companies like Spanx, Warby Parker, Tom’s, Airbnb, and Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, on how their ideas were dreamed up and turned into the mega-successful businesses they are today.
“Guy Raz dives into the stories behind some of the world’s best known companies. How I Built This weaves a narrative journey about innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists—and the movements they built” -NPR
My Favorite Episodes:
Spanx: Sara Blakely
Instagram: Kevin Systrom & Mike Krieger
Airbnb: Joe Gebbia
Jeni’s Spendid Ice Cream
Celebrity Chef: Jose Andres
6. Steal like an Artist
If you ever find that you’re the most talented person in the room, you need to find another room.
Full disclosure: I haven’t read this one yet, but it’s sitting in my queue as the #1 recommendation from every creative business owner I have polled so I feel obliged to list it here!
“You don’t need to be a genius, you just need to be yourself. That’s the message from Austin Kleon, a young writer and artist who knows that creativity is everywhere, creativity is for everyone. A manifesto for the digital age, Steal Like an Artist is a guide whose positive message, graphic look and illustrations, exercises, and examples will put readers directly in touch with their artistic side.” -Amazon
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, films, or any other sources of creative inspiration you’d love to recommend to the Flauk? Please leave a comment below to share!
Co-Founder / Chief Alchemy Officer
Stephanie is Flauk’s head website tinkerer, social strategist, and digital puzzle builder. She’s devoted to transforming all of your company’s offline missions, goals and dreams into solid gold out in the vast webiverse.