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Between The Covers: Ron Tite, Everyone’s An Artist

Between The Covers: Ron Tite, <I>Everyone’s An Artist</I>

In our latest Blog Series, “Between the Covers”, various employees at Speakers’ Spotlight will be exploring different books written by our beloved speakers and highlighting the important topics that they talk about.

For the first issue of “Between the Covers” we’ll be taking a deeper look at Ron Tite’s, Everyone’s an Artist (Or At Least They Should Be), an amazing read that inspires the artist in everyone.  From the meals you cook to the hobbies you enjoy, or the office you work in, Ron’s book is a guide to unlocking your inner artist, even if you don’t think you have one! After reading Ron’s book I had a few more questions about the book, how it came to be and what inspires him to be an artist:

What inspired you to write a book on creativity?  Was there a personal experience or an event that made you believe that this is a book the general public or audiences you speak to could benefit from?

Telling people that they need to be more creative is a pretty easy thing to do. There are a lot of books talking about the need for creativity, but not enough that are helping people do it. Canadians are busy, and while creativity is critical, they’re also hearing that they need to be more data-centric, more empowering, more mobile, and more gluten free. By the time they remember that they need to drink eight glasses of water a day, they end up throwing their hands in the air and pleading, “Can someone just show me how??!”. I wanted to provide an road map for them that was interesting to read, easy to understand, and compelling enough implement.

People don’t go to church to be converted, they go to be reminded. I wanted to write this to remind myself as much as I wanted to write it for others.

In your daily life, how do you think like an artist? Is this something that you constantly remind yourself of, or do you believe that the process of creation has always been something you are capable of?

There are a lot of ways that I think and act like an artist. It may be easier for me considering my background in stand-up and my career as a copywriter and creative director, where I was literally paid to be creative. That being said, I can fall into the trap of retreating to yesterday’s ideas just as much as anyone else. Creativity doesn’t just happen. It’s work. Experience just means you have both a knowledge of when you need to do it and the will to force yourself to.

Businesses, or good businesses, are always in the process of reinventing themselves and trying to stay ahead of the disruptors in their industry. Many businesses allow people personal time to work on projects or, for example, have a music room in their buildings. Do you think that employers are valuing creativity in a different way now? Rather than having a hobby outside of work, do you think employers are trying to create workplaces that breed creativity?

I go back and forth on that one. On one hand, spaces where people are free and comfortable can certainly help creativity. It’s hard to express yourself in a space that has no expression in it. On the other hand, I think people can use location as an easy excuse. They’re constantly looking for the right environment and blame their lack of creativity on their surroundings. I also don’t know that the office is the place for the great thinking to happen. A foosball table in a corporate office is a fine idea, but it’s still in an office. I’d rather people surround themselves with stuff that has nothing to do with the business. Go to an art gallery. Or a café. Or a park. I’d rather an advertising creative team surround themselves with graffiti than with award show annuals. The secret is to find what works for you and do that. You’ll be evaluated on the quality of your work, not on the quality of location you do it in.

Interesting ideas come from interesting people and interesting people are interested in different things. The passions you pursue after 6pm have a tremendous effect on the tasks you perform before 6pm. Not enough managers encourage that.

In your opinion, do you think the most difficult part of your ideologies in the book is the actual acceptance that anyone can be an artist?  If not, what do you consider to be the most difficult part of constructing artistry in people?

Apple told us to celebrate the crazy ones. It’s a great spot but it’s wrong. You don’t have to be crazy or a rebel or a square peg in a round hole. You can be you. Many assume they can’t be creative because they’re not a creative. They give up because we told them that creativity was the exclusive domain of a certain type of person. That’s sad. I have a lot of friends who are engineers. They’re brilliantly creative even though they’re the exact opposite of what a creative person is supposed to look and act like.

Luckily, the simplicity and low cost of creative expression has reminded people that they can be creative. Have you seen the stunning photos being taken on Instagram? Listened to the insightful podcasts being produced on iTunes? Watched the amazing music videos uploaded to Youtube? Everyone IS an artist because we finally have the means to match our desire.

That being said, I certainly don’t expect people to be painters, or dancers, or comedians. They don’t need to literally be artists. They just need act like those who are. The real artists of this world produce creativity. It’s their product. They have certain behaviours and traits that we all can apply to our own lives to be more creative. If you want to be a good team member, learn from a pro hockey player. If you want to be more creative, learn from a respected artist.

One of the main pillars in your book is the process of constant reinvention. For a company that is set in their ways, what is a way employers can organically instill creativity into their work environments?

I’d start with allowing staff to add their own personality to what they do. There are some places we need corporate mandates but providing a script of how someone should have a phone conversation isn’t one them. We’ve programmed our people to death with how they should act and dress and speak. Great creativity is really just a response to a personal observation. Sometimes, the output is a painting. Other times, it’s the solution to an operational crisis in a manufacturing environment. In either case, people will never get there if they can’t add their own personality to their surroundings.

Are you able to provide a few examples of companies that have a grasp on creative work environments and allowing their employees to release the artist in them? Are there industries that you think could make improvements on fostering creativity?

Pick a category. Then select the disruptor to that category. I’m wiling to bet that they’re an anti-establishment entity with people who have ignored the rules and solved the problems the establishment won’t.

One of your chapters talks about the importance of questioning and the discovery process. Were you ever asked a question from an employee that completely changed the route you took for your business?

About a million times. And in most of those, the question was “Why?”.

Catch our next edition of “Between the Covers” where we’ll explore Chris Bailey’s The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time.
Brenna Pavlidis/November, 2016