Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Creative Retreat

I am involved with an amazing group of creatives here in Cincinnati, Ohio. We are a motley crew of writers, designers, photographers, stylists, singer/songwriters, actors, fashion designers, sculptors, movie makers and tree climbers and we have a regular "meet up" every Monday at a local coffee shop. Often our meetings are loud and lively discussions on what is inspiring us at the moment, how we can move our creative careers forward, how we can overcome the difficult parts of ourselves that hold us back and expand the wonderful parts that make us great artists. There is a lot of enthusiastic hand grabbing, journal writing, pencil pointing, googling and laughing (sometimes tears too) as we encourage our friends on our creative life journey. It's more amazing than I ever thought it could be. At the beginning I figured that I'd be a sometimes participant but I now refuse to schedule anything during my meeting time because I find it such an energizing start to my week!

One of our members, Mike Fleisch, is a "Graphic Facilitator" for a living. This means that he goes into great corporate giant office meetings and scribes (writes and draws on a whiteboard) what occurs during that meeting. I'm totally amazed that this is actually a paying gig, but he is a wonderful leader in the world of collaboration. At his suggestion, we tried to do what he does in these corporate atmospheres with a creative angle. Rather than facilitate a corporate take-over (this is purely imagination on my part, I don't know if he really does that type of thing) he wanted to paricipate in something much more challenging: get creatives to collaborate on a project and come up with a product at the end of the collaborative effort. I was "in" on word one because I know how amazing Mike is. I'm pretty sure he's a legitimate genius, though his Mensa memebership is undisclosed but I can't stop using words like "brilliant", "mind-blowing smart" and "so, so cool" when I talk about him. Plus, I love stuff like this. Heavens, half the content I write on this blog is about analyzing the creative process. What a wonderful opportunity to witness and participate in the conception and birth of a creative project!

So yesterday, five of us who were able to clear our schedule almost the whole day, holed-up at Chase Public in Northside to see what would happen. Mike led the show with a completely professional presentation. We did what we were encouraged to do and let the magic happen. And magic it is. Without telling too much detail (there may be some tweaking of the process) I'll show some pictures of how the day progressed.

While you look at the photos, think about whether this is something you'd be stoked to do as well. Would you like to do an entire day? Two days? What do you think would make a great collaborative project? Is it something you'd do with strangers, or your creative group if you already have one? Is it something your kids would enjoy?
Here is Mike presenting one of the creative exercises. An example of his "scribing" is on the chalkboard at the left.

Samples from our first creative visual "exercise".

Discussing our first exercise and enjoying coffee from Sidewinder's Cafe.

An "overview" of our creative table. Look at all the different media we brought (literally) to the table.

A peek into April's sketchbook after a writing exercise.

This discussion took place at the lovely couches by the windows. That's Dave holding back a witty remark about my writing sample. :o)

Mike sharing something that inspires him. It's a funky instrument thing. Very cool.

April sharing a song she wrote for a children's musical. Can you guess what inspires her?

Some of the ideas ready for dissection and elaboration.
I hated leaving when it was time to go. I was creatively energized but also a little exhausted. We didn't "finish" our project and I'm hoping we get back to do just that. Mad props go to Mike (of course) but also to Jenifer, Dave and April for being so amazing. I feel so privileged to know these people and to have the opportunity to do what I love so much with positive and inspiring people.


  1. Wow, that looks like a really cool experience. It's great that you worked together with people that are all creative in completely different ways.

  2. This inspires me.

  3. That sounds like an amazing experience! What an inspiration.

  4. Goodness, Margot, nice blogging! And I wish I could do something to clarify what I "do," but I can't. You nailed it ; )

  5. I want to be a part of that. Could I be a part of that?


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