Be Creative About Making Your Own Opportunities

It’s not that I particularly like being a person who tries to make my own opportunities. It’s just the easiest way. So I’m very lazy in that sense.

I wish opportunity just all appear before me. If all the things I want appeared like magic. Then everyone knew what I want and did it. So that I wouldn’t have to look to find all the things I imagine.

I’m a realist. We see many who live as if that fantasy is what’s supposed to happen. They serve as a good reminder to ask for what you want. Be cool when you get what you get. Do what you can to find what you’re looking for.

At the same time it still often feels like I imagine things and they happen.

When you’re used to be a creative, you forget about the work a lot of the time. It’s a habit that is developed and cultivated.

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

52 Podcasts That Inspire My Creativity & Productivity

Podcasts I listen to:

  1. Feeling Good – Psychiatrist and Author David Burns discusses mood improvement tips and exercises.
  2. Happier with Gretchen Rubin – Gretchen (author of The Happiness Project and The Four Tendencies) and her sister Elizabeth Craft (TV writer) discuss habits
  3. Happier in Hollywood – Liz Craft and Sarah Fain discuss the struggles as TV writers in the male-dominated entertainment industry.
  4. Awesome Etiquette – The great-grandchildren of etiquette author Emily Post discuss modern manners in the digital age based on the tenants of consideration, respect, and honest.
  5. Getting Things Done – Productivity tips from author and consultant David Allen.
  6. TED Radio Hour – TED Talks adapted for audio
  7. The James Altucher Show
  8. The Upgrade by Lifehacker
  9. Slate’s Dear Prudence – Life advice from columnist Mallory Ortberg
  10. Windows Weekly – I’m both a Mac and Windows user. Power tips for power users of Microsoft’s operating syste
  11. Pop Culture Happy Hour
  12. InDesign Secrets
  13. By The Book – Jolenta Greenberg and her  friend Kristen Meinzer live by the practices of a self-help book each episode to find out which ones might work
  14. Hidden Brain
  15. HBR IdeaCast – Business and management ideas from Harvard Business Review.
  16. PBS NewsHour – Rated as one of the more objective sources of news coverage.
  17. Hello From the Magic Tavern – A man falls through a dimensional portal behind a Burger King into a magic land filled with wizards, magical monsters, and adventurers. Starring Chicago Improvisers.
  18. That’s How I Remember It – Actors flawlessly recreate perfectly exactly movies they’ve seen and haven’t seen from memory on the spot.
  19. A Way with Words – A call-in show about the English language linguistics, slang, new words, jokes, word games, grammar, regional dialects and word history.
  20. The Marie Forleo Podcast
  21. Radical Candor – Workplace advice
  22. I Hate My Boss – Workplace advice
  23. The Dinner Party Download
  24. If I Were You
  25. Dear Sugars
  26. Get-Done Guy’s Quick and Dirty Tips to Work Less and Do More
  27. The Savvy Psychologist’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Mental Health
  28. Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing
  29. The Nutrition Diva’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Eating Well and Feeling Fabulous
  30. Money Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for a Richer Life
  31. Planet Money
  32. Freakonomics
  33. Recode Decode with Kara Swisher
  34. Recode Media with Peter Kafka
  35. Katie Couric
  36. Judge John Hodgman
  37. Anna Faris Is Unqualified
  38. The Backline – An Improv Podcast
  39. This Week in Google
  40. All About Android
  41. The Accidental Creative
  42. Side Hustle School
  43. The Mortified Podcast
  44. Schmanners
  45. Myths and Legends
  46. Hannah and Matt Know It All
  47. Improv Nerd with Jimmy Carrane
  48. improv4humans with Matt Besser
  49. The American Life
  50. Design Matters with Debbie Millman
  51. Marvel Cinematic Universe – Covering Marvel Comics films.
  52. FiveThirtyEight – Politics through the eyes of statistics and probability

Also check out my podcast Uncanny Creativity. What are your favorite podcasts? Any I missed that need to be included?

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

Quotes to help you have more fun

A few quotes that help me have more fun:

When overgeneralizing, be curious about what’s new and different:
“All generalizations are dangerous, even this one.” Alexandre Dumas fils

When it’s all or nothing, explore the what’s in between:
“We must stand firm between two kinds of madness: the belief that we can do anything; and the belief that we can do nothing.” Alain

When magnifying the bad and minimizing the good:
“Disappointment is really just a term for our refusal to look on the bright side.” Richelle E. Goodrich

Jumping to conclusions and imagining the other’s thoughts and possible terrible futures, be present:
“Our busy minds are forever jumping to conclusions, manufacturing and interpreting signs that aren’t there.” Epictetus

When emotional reasoning, look for truth:
“That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.” Christopher Hitchens / Hitchens’s razor. (Latin proverb “Quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur”, “What is freely asserted is freely dismissed.”)

When “should” clouds your expectations, stop resisting:
“And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” Max Ehrmann, Desiderata

When labels feel true:
“People are too complicated to have simple labels.” Philip Pullman, The Amber Spyglass

When blame, comparison and guilt cloud your senses:
“Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

Graphic Designers, here’s how make your client relationships better

“In a book about an octopus, Tomi Ungerer purposefully gave the octopus seven tentacles. He said so many kids would have the pleasure of calling it to his and our attention” Ursula Nordstrom

When clients call or email with an edit, I like to react with almost too extreme gratitude. Usually, they’re ready to justify or perhaps thinking I’ll be defensive. It’s more practical to encourage them to please freely give details so I can do my work.

Connect. We learn more from each other when we feel safe:

  1. Rather than suffer, accept vulnerability as a reminder to solve one’s own problems and develop self-reflective awareness
  2. Rather than lash out, accept the priority of casual clarification and direct assertiveness without blame, criticism, or accusation.
  3. Rather than play hero, accept the skill of showing concern without fixing. Encourage others to develop and practice their own life tools.

Listen to more about Ursula Nordstrom on Gretchen Rubin’s podcast: A Little Happier: Sometimes, Flawed Can Be More Perfect Than Perfection.

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.

How to Take Action When Creativity Feels Hard

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve been feeling a little stuck with a creative project lately. Trust me, I know how you feel. Even after twenty years as a graphic designer, I still have my fair share of “creative block” moments. For me, creative block can end up looking like procrastinating, focusing on less urgent or less creative tasks, or just feeling a little stuck.

But the good news is, there are a few simple strategies that can help to get those creative juices flowing again. First and foremost, it’s important to set clear goals and priorities. Know what you want to accomplish, and focus on the most important tasks first. Remember why you’re doing this – for me, it’s because I want to make creative and cool projects every day. That’s why I became a designer in the first place.

To help me stay focused on my goals, I’ll often open up a mood board where I keep designs that inspire me and that could inform my work. I’ll also look at technical articles that remind me of the basics of good layout and design. This helps me to stay grounded and focused on my goals, even when I’m feeling a little stuck.

Another important strategy is to have a regular schedule. Whether it’s a daily or weekly routine, having dedicated times for all of your important tasks can help to keep you on track. And speaking of staying on track, it’s important to minimize distractions as much as possible. Turn off notifications, set aside specific times for checking email, and find ways to stay focused on your work.

But don’t forget to take breaks and practice self-care! It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle, but it’s important to take regular breaks to rest and recharge. Whether it’s going for a walk, meditating, or just taking a few deep breaths, taking care of yourself is crucial for maintaining your productivity and creativity.

So, what about when you’re feeling really stuck and none of these strategies seem to be working? Well, that’s when it’s time to get a little bit more creative. Try starting with the most practical parts of the project – for me, that might mean opening a document and getting the size right, or putting something on the page without judgment. Or, if it’s a particularly creatively challenging project, I’ll name the file “Project Name Ideas” and make it a judgment-free space.

Another tip is to look at inspiration and try using very specific parts of what you like in your own idea. Draw from a few inspirations and try getting them to mesh together. And don’t be afraid to try out the bad ideas too – even at your worst, you’ll have some usable thoughts.

And finally, don’t be afraid to get something down on paper, even if it’s not perfect. Whether you’re sketching out ideas, writing down messy thoughts, or experimenting with different materials, it’s important to start creating something. The process of making can often spark new ideas and help you to overcome those creative blocks. You then have something that you can edit and work through.

So there you have it – a few of my tried-and-true strategies for getting unstuck with a creative project. Remember, you’re not alone in feeling a little stuck sometimes. We’ve all been there. But with a little bit of effort and these simple strategies, you’ll be back to creating amazing work in no time.

Brian E. Young is a graphic designer and artist in Baltimore, MD.