Creative Insites

By Edo Steinberg

Between his many artistic endeavors and research, Josh Sites has to stay imaginative. He has a few techniques to keep his mind fresh.

“The method I enjoy the most is lateral thinking,” Josh says. “You purposefully pull yourself out of the moment and reevaluate what you’re doing. I use it a lot when I’m working on music. If I’m in the mixing stage, and I’m stuck and I don’t like how it sounds, I’ll utilize it. It’ll completely pull me out of the moment and I’ll return to my problem either thinking about the thing that I just put into my brain, and that will give me a fresh perspective, or at the very least, I’ve taken myself off this track that was leading nowhere. Now I have a fresh set of ears and I can make new decisions.”

ObliqueStrategiesJosh often uses a deck of cards called “Oblique Strategies” to help him think laterally. “Whenever you’re stuck, you flip over a card and there’s a prompt on it. You do what it says, or not, but regardless, you evaluate the statement. For instance, it might say something like ‘what would your parents think?’ If I seriously entertain the card, I may still come up with nothing, but I’m now wasting brain energy on what my parents would think. It’s getting me unstuck. Other times it is very applicable, like ‘make it more blue,’ and that triggers thoughts in my mind about ‘blue, like the ocean, waves – got it! I should add some chorus effects, because that sounds like waves.’ Sometimes it’s very concrete and sometimes very abstract.”

You can also make rules to stay creative. “They are mostly arbitrary rules,” Josh says before giving an example from his painting, to which he adds the caveat that he isn’t very good at it. “When I decide to paint, I’ll give myself rules. Having all these paints and paintbrushes at my ready, due to my fiancée Alicia’s vast collection, it’s really intimidating. I can do anything right now, or at least there’s that pressure, because realistically I don’t have the technique to make whatever I imagine on the canvass,” Josh laughs. “For instance, I decide I’m only going to use four colors and two rectangles.”

The rules can be broken. “Since they are arbitrary, they’re there only as much as they’re helpful. If I’ve accidentally given myself too many rules or put myself in the corner with it, I can now break them, but it’s with purpose. It is no longer an infinite number of possibilities: I’m either following this rule or I’m specifically breaking it.”

Another thing Josh likes is random word or phrase generators. “There was a time that I knew what I wanted to say lyrically, but when I tried writing it, it just sounded cheesy. There was no art to it whatsoever. What I decided to do was to write everything, good or bad. Then, I copied and pasted parts that I liked into software that reorganized the words at random. Now I had all the right symbols in there, and I got to attach new meaning to them. They weren’t in an order anyone else had placed them in. It was combining different thought and different feelings just by jumbling these words around. I would edit it slightly, and then it would make sense.”

Hopefully, these strategies can help you stay creative, too!

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