November 4, 2019
In this episode, the tables have been turned, and I am on the other side of the microphone!
In the last series of the podcast, I interviewed Magnus Goransson, Design Director at LEGO’s Creative Play Lab. After our conversation, Magnus reached out and offered to interview me in return – specifically about my performance work.
One of my many roles as a creative is being a creature performer. I trained as an actor and I specialise in bringing non-human characters to life. One of the most well-known of these was Tinky Winky from Teletubbies. And as you’ll hear, this struck a chord with Magnus, who was intrigued to know more.
Some of the topics we cover in our conversation include:
- how I discovered the world of creature performance
- my early training and how it continues to influence my work today
- how that training overlaps with how designers work
- how I use physical constraints to inform the creative process
- we talk about some of the unique challenges of this line of work
- and we compare notes on a few practical tips for creatives
Please enjoy this slightly different episode of The Practical Creative!
May 5, 2019
In this wrap up episode, I recap all my guests in the season exploring the power of play, and highlight some of the key strategies and takeaways that anyone can use to incorporate more play into their lives and creative practice.
May 1, 2019
Magnus works at LEGO as Design Director in the Creative Play Lab – where he works with teams to design and develop toys of the future. His work is informed by a huge and constantly growing body of research conducted by LEGO into both how, and why, children play. And in this conversation, we cover a range of topics including:
- how LEGO fosters a culture of play amongst it’s employees (and this is really fun)
- the benefits of working in teams to prevent and overcome blocks
- the reality of designing products for a major corporation, particularly as a creative person, and how this can lead to burnout
- why adults prefer to have ‘hobbies’ rather than admit to ‘playing’
- we also talk about how Magnus managed to find alternative outlets for his own creativity as he moved from being a hands-on designer to a director – and this was fascinating
And as always, we finish with a challenge to really ‘engulf yourself in play’.
So please enjoy!
April 14, 2019
Sandy is an award winning artist whose work appears in collections around the globe. Her work is the result of a fierce commitment to a spontaneous and intuitive process. In fact, you’ll hear the phrases ‘letting go’, ‘being in the here and now’ and ‘empty mind’ several times in this interview. Working across media, including ceramics, painting, installation and sculpture, Sandy’s work is always bold, energetic, and hugely life-affirming.
This conversation was recorded at her home in the seaside village of Appledore, Devon, in the UK, where Sandy also has her studio and exhibition space. Some of the topics we cover include:
- key moments that helped her to define her intuitive approach
- how Sandy cultivates a state of ‘not knowing’ when creating her work
- the value of trusting intuition and allowing your body to lead your creative process
- dealing with uncertainty, fear, and not liking your work
- the importance of ‘letting go’ and saying yes
And what drives her to consistently take on new and bigger challenges.
This was a delightful conversation with one of the bravest artists I know. Sandy’s commitment to, and trust in, the act of letting go, of not knowing – is as challenging as it is inspiring. Please enjoy.
April 7, 2019
A brief, interim episode and catchup! Checking in with you, recapping some of the creative challenges from my guests, and a book recommendation to improve your 'inner dialogue'.
Catch up on all my previous guests either here, or at thepracticalcreative.life
March 31, 2019
Mike is an author, an entrepreneur, and he also conducts research into workplace wellness. So what does this mean, and how does it fit into the theme of play? Mike has created some fantastic tools for measuring and assessing how you spend your time – in order to live a more deliberate life – and this includes simple things you can start doing today to put more fun into your life.
Some of the topics we cover include:
- why a ‘balanced life’ is a fallacy
- we explore Mike’s Play Model, which offers a helpful vocabulary for categorizing different activities in your life
- using a time log to really focus on how you’re spending your time, and where you might be able to, as Mike puts it, “sprinkle a little more fun into your life”
- how to be more proactive and avoid waiting for pain to move you into action
- how Mike uses long-term goal setting to create the life he wants now, and in the future (and ensuring that he has fun along the way).
Plus, Mike leaves us with a challenge to take some of the ideas in this conversation and apply them to your own life, by examining how you spend the 168 hours of your week.
If you’ve ever heard the saying that “life is about the journey, and not the destination” and wondered how to have more fun along the journey, there are definitely some ideas in this conversation that will be of interest.
March 24, 2019
Mary Robinette is a puppeteer, audiobook narrator, science fiction author, and she is no stranger to winning awards. One of her short stories won a Hugo award, she won the Campbell award for Best New Writer, and one of her novels was nominated for a Nebula – all of which are a big deal in the science fiction and fantasy genre. But her list of accomplishments goes on, with Mary Robinette also winning two UNIMA awards for her work in puppetry.
I was delighted to get the opportunity to talk to Mary Robinette about her work; particularly as she has found success in what appear to be two very different worlds – although she disagrees, and you’ll hear why.
Some of the topics we cover include:
- the importance of ‘doodling’ and how she uses it to get out of feeling ‘stuck’
- managing depression as a creative, and still getting work done
- the importance of valuing your own taste
And a wonderful writing challenge to encourage you to ‘cross pollinate.’
This was an intriguing, and surprisingly frank, conversation that covered a wide range of topics and offers an insight into two fascinating, creative worlds.
March 17, 2019
Yesim is a play expert and futurist who has worked with major international brands such as LEGO, Hasbro and Toys R’ Us. Her work has taken her from studying children at play and toy design to teaching executives how to access their own innate power of play.
This was an utterly fascinating conversation, and Yesim does a brilliant job of creating a vocabulary and context that takes the idea of play from something that we might dismiss as frivolous or reserved for the weekend, and instead she places it front and centre, as a fundamental aspect of the human experience (including adults), and even that play is a power that we all have access to, and one that can be cultivated on a daily basis.
Other topics we cover include
- Cultural differences in play
- How you can teach play and innovation
- Some context on why play has been relegated to ‘child-only’ status
- The connection between play and failure
and a fantastic challenge at the end to practice playfulness by ‘tickling your mind’.
This was a fascinating and inspiring conversation about perceptions of play, the need for play even as adults, and practical steps you can take to increase your own ‘play muscle’ - so please enjoy.
March 10, 2019
Charlie is an author, filmmaker and marketing strategist. His work has led to rubbing elbows with the likes of Tim Ferriss, Ramit Sethi, Gary Vaynerchuck, the list goes on, and he’s given talks for Google and The Pentagon. Charlie’s written two books about play, one chronicling his discovery of play as an antidote to anxiety, and another celebrating how luminaries throughout history have valued play; including Bob Dylan, Plato, JK Rowling, Einstein, Jay-Z and Mark Twain.
Charlie has a fascinating relationship to the spirit of play and it’s value to mental health and happiness – which we really dig into.
Some of the other topics we cover include:
- how Charlie used play to treat his anxiety which then lead to writing ‘Play it Away’
- some of the mindshifts he made to bring more joy into his life and work
- how improv and wrestling can foster play
- how he turned writing a book into a playful project collaborating with 50 artists from around the world
We also talk about:
- how to create opportunities for more play in your daily life
- the value of journalling
- and there’s a brilliant challenge at the end to help kick-start your own play project
Charlie was an amazing guest, and this conversation is full of so many great takeaways – please enjoy!
February 16, 2019
Kathryn Poole is an artist from Liverpool in the United Kingdom. I had the opportunity to speak with Kathryn after she was announced as the winner of the Jackson’s Art Emerging Artist Prize in Drawing. And I’m so glad that I did.
Kathryn creates exquisite and highly detailed drawings that result from her fascinating process; a combination of the scientific method, an interest in memory, and roadkill.
The subject matter may be sombre, but Kathryn’s approach is delightfully inquisitive and cheerful.
Some of the topics we cover in this conversation include:
- How she warms up before beginning work and maintains focus for sustained periods of time
- Managing time to create alongside a demanding day job
- The difference between using roadkill versus taxidermy as source material
- The virtues of working in black and white
- Her thoughts on entering art competitions
- and Kathryn’s creative challenge for you to try in your own practice.
I had so much fun talking with Kathryn and exploring her wonderfully distinctive practice; our conversation is full of fantastic observations and practical takeaways – please enjoy!