Q&A with June speaker—Jim Haven—who will be speaking on the topic WONDER.

1. How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
I think creativity is simply problem solving. However, the more unexpected or unique solutions are, the more overtly creative.  When I experience something truly creative it sort of makes my brain smile as it recognizes a clever solution. I find creativity to be intellectual and emotional at the same time.  

Pretty much everything I get involved with requires some form of creativity. I know that sounds a bit general but it’s been the center of my career.  I will say that more often than not it involves writing. For example, I’m often working in design yet I can’t physically design anything outside of my head with anything more than words. 

2. Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
The best inspiration for creativity is in mistakes or misinterpretations. In some ways I think that is what our brains are doing when we are being creative. Just making weird mistakes and free associations. But you have to get out in the world to feed your misinterpretations. Walking down the street, wondering about history or why something is the way it is. You have to be curious and observant. The more you do this the better you’ll be at inspiring your own randomness on cue. It’s this imbalance that puts things in motion because humans like to solve things in logical ways. I saw Frank De Ruwe of Natwerk in Amsterdam describe his work and this process with a remarkably refreshing illustration. According to Frank it’s when you have something “normal” and something “not” and you add them together to create something “not normal.”

3. What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
Work hard and then relax.  It’s hard to solve a problem directly, you need a little indirect thinking. Go do something else that’s productive or anything that changes your focus. The moment you stop flexing your brain is when an idea will come. 

4. Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
At this very moment, Olafur Elliasion or Mark Ryden. They are both remarkable and ground breaking artists but entirely different in terms of style. Mark Ryden is essentially the father of Pop Surrealism. (A term coined right here in Seattle at Roq La Rue by Kirsten Anderson.) He has ridiculous craft and an insanely vivid mind that’s a joy to explore through his work. Olafur Elliason is a huge thinker that combines technology, architecture and the understanding of light to make stunningly ambitious experiences and strong personal statements. There is a distinctly clean Nordic sensibility to it as well. Tomorrow I might have a different answer. I just enjoy their thinking. As artists they communicate with voices I admire.  

5. What’s the most recent thing you learned (big or small)?
I just learned this tonight having a conversation with a couple ex pats here in Seattle. There used to be an ATM in Hoxton Square in East London called the Cockney Cash Point and I you could choose Cockney Rhyming Slang as a language. For example it asked you to enter your “Huckleberry Finn” which is your pin to get your “Bangers ‘n Mash” which is cash. 

6. What are you proudest of in your life?
My friendships. 

7. What music are you listening to these days?
I’m going back three steps before I go forward in terms of my old to new music ratio. There is so much to explore. I enjoy weird, obscure and unusual collaborations or experiments of the 60s and 70s. Guys like Lee Hazlewood will start you on a journey that is lot of fun. He’s like a weird cowboy songwriter from Oklahoma who moved to Sweden for a while and made some charmingly absurd music that gets stuck in your brain.  

I am just as interested in the context as I am the music.   For example, 1970’s Italian musician Adriano Celentano composed a song that is complete gibberish but made to sound like English songs did to native Italians speakers. It’s called Prisencolinensinainciusol. It also happens to be super catchy. Actually, better just watch it, here. The irony is I don’t really listen to lyrics, mostly just the sounds and rhythms.