• "Music paves the way and dictates all my creativity." (Marawa Wamp)Source: Marawa Wamp
Want to tap into that lazy left side of your brain? Take your cue from Australia’s top creative types who share their tricks and tips for getting the inspiration flowing, getting organised and getting it done.
Naomi Chrisoulakis

3 Feb 2016 - 10:59 AM  UPDATED 3 Feb 2016 - 2:45 PM
Jenny Kee, artist and fashion designer 

“Every year, I go looking for wild waratahs that grow in fire-affected bushland in the Blue Mountains. I love to surround myself with them, and then paint them—they feel special and sacred. Seeing them in the wild has become a habit, and it never fails to get my creative juices going.”

Fiona McFarlane, Miles Franklin-shortlisted author of The High Places

"Creativity responds to consistent attention: I feed mine by exposing it, all the time, to the creative expression of other people; I exercise it every day by doing my own work; and I establish rules (like daily word limits and internet-blocking software) that mean I'm able to protect it from distraction, busyness, and self-doubt. It isn't a mystical quality that comes and goes of its own choosing - I can create the conditions that mean it will show up to work whenever I do - though of course there are days when everything seems more effortless.

Jacob Nash, head designer at Bangarra Dance Theatre

“At Bangarra Dance Theatre, we tell stories from this land, about the people who live on it and their connection to place—there are stories and songlines that stretch back 40,000 years into the past, present and beyond. To get the creative juices flowing, I travel to country; to where the story originates. I stand in that landscape and listen to the voices of the people whose country I am standing on.”

Related viewing: Colour Theory with Jacob Nash

Steven Chee, photographer 

“I definitely believe I work better in the morning. If I could start work at 7am every morning I would. If I receive a call sheet with a 9am call time I feel like I've missed the starting gun AND we get stuck in traffic on the way!”

Candice Fox, award-winning author of Fall

“I like to play musical chairs. I spend my day shifting through different environments so that my work always stays fresh, even if it's the same project for months (or years). I start with a couple of hours at the home office, then go to my local cafe and work there for a couple of hours, then to the local library. The harder the project, the more often I move - I sometimes change chairs at the one cafe three or four times.

Mark Simpson, Creative Director of animation company Sixty40 

“My go-to method is simply to start. One step at a time, following the set process. I've never done a job that doesn't go: research, idea, script, references, design, storyboard, voices, animate, finish, sound, deliver. So as long as I remember what stage I’m up to, I’m fine. If all else fails, I go for a surf or a swim in big waves. Resets all your systems.”

Gypsy Taylor, designer and illustrator 

“After pro-actively-crastinating (an important part of artistic growth!), I have a few go to’s. I’m a sucker for a to-do list. I use workflowy.com religiously. Sometimes I swap my work desk for a booth in a cafe for a change of scenery and a peanut butter milkshake with my Moleskine and 3B pencil. When all else fails my winning technique is to put 90 mins on my alarm clock and not look at any distracting devices. Pure, non-interrupted creative time for an hour and a half; silent, filled with a background podcast or my favourite record.”

Lenka, singer, songwriter and actress 

“Nature is my most powerful creative-juicer. If I'm feeling uninspired I need some beach or forest time, or even just lying under a tree looking up at the leaves, and then the ideas start flowing.”

Nikki Majajas, accessories designer 

“Even though I love all of the aspects of creating there are so many other tasks that have to also get done in order to have a functional practice. What works for me to keep it all flowing is to have chunks of time allotted to certain tasks. I'll do a week's worth of designing all at the same sitting, just like I'll do all of my book keeping in one go.”

Matt Cosgrove, author and illustrator 

“Creativity can strike at anytime, so always having a notepad handy to jot down ideas as soon as they pop into my head has become a habit. Even if that's in the middle of the night (apologies to my wife). Our house is littered with notebooks filled with scribbles, ideas, words, phrases, titles and compositions. Sometimes these ideas blossom into whole books, sometimes nothing happens - but at least the idea is captured and out of my head. I sometimes discover a doodle or sentence that I scribbled down ten years ago that is perfect for what I'm currently working on, or at the time it went nowhere but suddenly it comes to life for me.”

Marawa Wamp, world record-holding hula hoop performer 

“First up, I need to have sorted my hair out before I can get too far into the zone. Good hair, clean mind. Then coffee, Pinterest and a good soundtrack. Music paves the way and dictates all my creativity. And no Facebook - I deleted my page 2 years ago. Best thing ever.”


Love the story? Follow the author here: Twitter @nchrisoulakis Instagram @naomichrisoulakis


More reading
Monotasking: the secret to getting more done
Is your to-do list never ending? It’s time to stop multitasking.