Posted by: Liz Massey | November 18, 2009

Surf’s Up: Top Creativity Links for November 18, 2009

Illustration courtesy of Duchesssa via SXC.

10 Ways to Stimulate the Economy With Your Brain
A nice post from Pam Slim’s Escape from Cubicle Nation blog, which contains excellent ideas for stirring up commerce in your own backyard, with no investment or red tape involved.
Although Pam’s focus is on boosting local businesses, not creativity per se, many of the tips either require a little creativity to get off the ground (or at least creativity’s second cousin, moxie) or are tips that will be a win-win for working artists who want to stimulate their own personal economy, as well as that of the community in which they live.
To demonstrate my point, here are three of her tips I especially like.

Host an event at your local coffee shop. If you have been meaning to gather friends together for a social event, suggest you meet at a favorite local haunt. The dollars spent there will be appreciated.
Constantly promote others on your social networks. If you see one of your trusted friends promoting a course or workshop or selling a great product, spread the word.
Hook up people who should work together. Maybe you know a graphic designer who would work really well with your friend who is a copywriter. Make the connection, and both businesses can grow.

The unspoken premise of many of these tips is giving in order to get. Make the effort to implement a few tips on Pam’s list, and get increased visibility and trust in the eyes of your friends, neighbors and customers, as well as a happier, more optimistic community that may just thank you by checking out your goods and services.

In Defense Of 1,000 True Fans – Part I – The Mountain Goats
In Defense Of 1,000 True Fans – Part II – Matthew Ebel

Ariel Hyatt has written a couple of thought-provoking posts on the Music Think Tank blog. Both of them relate to artists who are exemplars of the 1,000 True Fans model. In part I, she explains the model in a little more detail, quoting Corey Denis at a New Music Seminar presentation asserting that are three rules to follow if one wants to apply this model.

“The three rules generally work together: Setting appropriate expectations, focusing on your art, and connecting to your fans as you develop over a long period of time. Your career is an investment by you, and anyone who wants to pay you to be you. And for a return on your investment, your goal is to make it a desirable investment to your most beloved fans. But how do they become true fans? If you remember the first two rules, the third is up to you.”

Denis lists several more tips to make the 1,000 True Fans idea work, setting them in the context of how they were applied by The Mountain Goats, a band who recently promoted their new release by way of a performance on the Colbert Report.
Hyatt continues the series by interviewing social media savvy singer/songwriter/keyboardist Matthew Ebel, who, as of the post’s writing, is actually making more than 25 percent of his net income from just 40 fans. Ebel has some interesting tips for those wanting to cultivate a dedicated fan base…here are a few excerpts from pointers he gives during the interview.

Stop the Musical Masturbation
“I wasted so much time playing open mics and writer’s nights in Nashville and Boston. The same is true of all the ‘hot new music sites’ that spring up every 20 minutes on the Internet … Fans go to Facebook or iTunes, not Stereofame. I could waste all my time playing for a crowd of other broke indie artists or I can spend my efforts approaching fans where they’re already congregating.”

Shove Yourself Into A Niche
“I’m inspired by certain things– technology, animals, politics, sci-fi/ fantasy –and so is every other artist. Whatever I’m writing about, there’s a community based around that topic. Instead of going after generic ‘music fan’ crowds, I chose to focus on specific niches that share MY interests … not only is my music relevant to them, I can relate to them on a personal level.”

Keep Them Screaming Your Name
“In October of 2008 I started my own subscription service …with no clue whether the fans would like it or not. Part of the offerings were two new songs and one live concert recording every month. Little did I realize that new releases every two weeks would be better than any good album reviews or press coverage. Giving my fans something new to talk about every two weeks meant exactly that: they talk about me every two weeks.”

Whether or not you believe the 1,000 True Fans model would work for your discipline, both posts are a refreshing break from economic gloom and doom forecasts, especially in the ever-dicey world of professional music making!

What’s Thwarting American Innovation? Too Much Science, Says Roger Martin
From Fast Martin, dean of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, says in his new book, “The Design of Business,” that scientific and analytic thinking can only do so much for business, since it studies the past and the past is never exactly like the future.
There’s an interesting Q and A in the article where Martin basically lays out his thesis. Here are a couple of potent outtakes.

“In a knowledge-intensive world, design thinking is critical to overcoming the biggest block: overcoming analytical thinking and fear of intuitive thinking. The design thinker enables the organization to balance exploration and exploitation, invention of business and administration of business, originality and mastery…

“You don’t have to convert the whole organization to design thinking. Propose a little experiment–say, three months in length–where you test out a bite-sized chunk of a problem using this method. If you have a little success, be sure to then attach metrics to it. In that way, you turn the future into the past in a way they understand.”

It’s encouraging to see a business school dean realizing there’s more to innovation than PowerPoints and Excel spreadsheets rehashing the past! Could this be another sign that Daniel Pink’s thesis that right-brain qualities are the key to future economic success is gaining traction?

Bonus Links!
Periodic Table of Typefaces
Interesting visual chart of advancements in typography. Based on sources related to best-practices for graphic designers.
12 of the World’s Coolest Packaging Designs
A slideshow from Innovative, thought provoking and cool!
Solo Creativity, part 1
From Andy Eklund’s Creative Streak blog. First of a two-part series focusing on useful solo brainstorming techniques.



  1. hey, i just found your website through google image search (they indexed the typography periodic table)… I’m really glad I clicked!

    Cool site, awesome subject-matter, awesome links!!! Thanks!

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