3 Tips for Unlocking Your Imagination

by | Updated: December 4th, 2016 | Read time: 3 minutes

While some people undeniably excel at crafting jewelry or capturing the essence of their world on canvas, each of us is entitled to find, explore and communicate our own form of creative expression. To begin, it’s necessary to reject the idea that imagination is the exclusive domain of the young, or a state of mind that only trained artists are allowed to access. Whether or not you have a fine arts degree, calling on your own muse and unleashing your personal creativity can revitalize you and bring a deeper level of satisfaction and fulfillment to your life.3 Tips to Unleash Your Imagination

Author and internationally recognized multimedia artist Phil Hansen believes that creativity is a kind of muscle that needs to be exercised on a regular basis if it’s to be productive. Creativity, he says, is about connecting dots: The more things you’ve worked on, the more you’re able to connect different things in unusual ways. This concept was the driving force behind his book, Tattoo a Banana And Other Ways to Turn Anything and Everything Into Art (Penguin, 2012), which offers ways to practice and hone creativity by experimenting with everyday items—many of which can be found around the house.

In his book, Hansen also suggests that art is an action—not merely a result. To illustrate this idea, he recently began an Internet series called “Phil in the Whaaat,” offering projects for people who want to strengthen their creative muscles. He offers three tips to help launch you on your own creative path.

Move yourself

Hansen says he often embarks on long walks after hitting a wall on a creative project, or when he simply needs to brainstorm new ideas. The rhythmic physical movement induces a state of relaxation, which allows his mind to wander freely—often sparking new ideas, or solutions to problems with a particular piece of work. “It takes a while for your mind to relax,” he says, “so I suggest that you start by committing to at least six days, and walking for at least 45 minutes on each of these days. If you don’t like walking, any type of physical activity that you find personally relaxing (and that doesn’t require a lot of focus) can also be productive.”

See everything as transitory

Not too long ago, Hansen spent an entire year, creating an art series that he titled “Goodbye Art.” After he completed each piece, he destroyed it. A lot of people asked him how he could destroy something he’d invested so much time and effort in creating. “I feel that practicing destruction is a vital part of staying in the creative flow,” he explains. “The act of deconstruction really helped me see the value of the creative process, and moved me toward letting go of the results. And letting go decluttered my creative space to make room for new creativity. So, maybe the next time you create something artistic, destroy it and see where your mind takes you next.”

Embrace limitations

Through his work as an artist, Hansen has learned that embracing limitations can really drive the process of creativity. In high school, his obsession with pointillism—a painting technique that utilizes tiny dots of color to collectively form a larger image—ended up damaging the nerves in his right arm, resulting in a permanent jitter. “I could no longer do the pointillism that I loved, so I started experimenting with methods where the shaking in my arm wouldn’t affect my work. I discovered that if I worked on a larger scale with bigger materials, my hand wouldn’t really hurt. This limitation completely changed my artistic horizons and led me to the art that I do today.”

Each of us, Hansen points out, faces daily limitations. Instead of using them as an excuse to disengage from creative pursuits, embrace your limitations and focus on finding creative ways to overcome them. “I absolutely think we are all naturally creative, as our ability to create determines our ability to survive,” he says.

Creativity also leads to innovation and growth, which is why it’s vital for adults to be creative. Unfortunately, our society doesn’t nurture creativity in general, and bills it as something frivolous or a waste of time—so we tend to grow up with the belief that it’s only for children or a few gifted ones. Acknowledging that its innate as well as essential is an important first step to unlocking your own creativity