When PJ joined our #practicecreativity challenge we were thrilled.  His deep contemplation for the daily challenges and thoughtful work inspired us – and his stories behind the work took our breath away. Learn a little more about this image maker who seeks to connect and support fellow creative minds.

Tell us a little bit about your work:

I am an image maker.  It ties together much of what has turned out to be a portfolio career. Currently, I operate a commercial photography business that has also diversified into marketing, graphic design and social media consulting.  I am also a reporter and photojournalist for the local paper. For fun, I am a bartender at a historic opera house that houses a restaurant, two bars and event space. At the end of the day, I’m an artist who does a lot of other things to maintain a livelihood and to keep in motion.

What is your definition of creativity?

To me, creativity is interpreting things in a new way or from a different perspective.  It is applying these interpretations to solving problems or building works that improve the human condition.

What kind of things do you do to get your “creative juices” flowing? (What inspires you)?

Being in nature is the greatest driver of my inspiration.  Part of that is probably just that I can be alone and away from distraction to observe the world around me. Another driver is when someone presents me with a problem that needs to be solved.

Who would you say has been one of your main influences?

I think it might be funny that a creative would say that scientist is one of their main influences, but for me, I’d have to say that Carl Sagan is one of my greatest influences. I think many believe science to be a rigid thing, a required class in school. However, scientists are to me the greatest explorers.  They are always pushing to understand more of the universe around us. This requires the ability to see beyond common accepted thought and stretch the imagination.

How did you discover that you were a creative thinker? 

Not sure when I identified myself as a creative thinker. Certainly over the years family, friends, teachers and co-workers kept reinforcing that I was indeed creative. Fortunately,for the most part,  I had a lot of support and wasn’t pushed to be something that I wasn’t. There were definitely pitfalls and obstacles along the way- I nearly had the art beat out of me by a college art professor who sadly had a very narrow vision. Ironic.

What are some challenges you face?

Since I’ve left the traditional corporate world, I’ve had tons of intrinsic rewards and benefits to my work. It is still a constant battle to obtain financial compensation anywhere close to what I enjoyed in a traditional job. My wife and family have been ridiculously supportive, but it has been a burden.

How do you encourage creativity in others?

I still feel everyone has something to offer creatively.  That feeling has taken a beating at times when people refuse to live up to their potential, either from self-doubt or pressures placed upon them by society, family or work. Some creatives, like me, fight a constant battle with themselves about their value as an artist/creative. I find it so rewarding to talk to other creatives and talk about this common thread. It helps to understand we are not alone in the struggle. A musician friend and I often sit at an old beat up wooden table in the back of them room at the historic opera hall. We call it the “therapy table”  and so many rewarding conversations have ensued. I feel a million times better about my work after one of these sessions.

In what ways did the Practice Creativity Challenge affect your thinking?

I totally had no clue what to expect and came in with really no preconceived notions of what the challenge would be like. It was so great to explore tasks that I’ve never done or haven’t done in a very long time. Looking at the world in a different way helps break out of ruts we can get stuck in. AND once again, sharing and networking with other creatives might be the greatest benefit of all.

What advice would you give to other people who are motivated to become more creative?

Find a collaborator or a group that can challenge and support you.  J.R.R. Tolkien, CS Lewis and other were part of an informal literary group called the Inklings, that encouraged and supported each other.  Hemingway went to Paris and surrounded himself with other writers, painters and creatives. I love to be involved in creative communities and keep looking for people to add to my circle

What would you like your creative legacy to be? 

I don’t often think of legacy.  I hope I’ve brought some unique vision to people. I hope I’ve created some art that created an emotion in people. I hope I’ve inspired a few to approach life in a different way or to see things in more ways that just the traditional perspective

Anything else you’d like to add?
Don’t quit. Think big.  Don’t let them talk you out of it.

photo courtesy of PJ Anderson

photo courtesy of PJ Anderson