How to put yourself in inspiration’s path.

By Cassie Hughes (Co-founder & Strategy Director) and Gabrey Means (Co-founder & Creative Director) at Grow Marketing.

When creativity is your livelihood, keeping the fresh ideas flowing is mission critical. But everyone — from accountants and attorneys to interior designers and musicians — can benefit from regularly breaking routine and heading out on an inspiration mission.

So what’s an inspiration mission? An inspiration mission is dedicated to seeking out and immersing yourself in experiences that are not part of your daily habit. By stepping outside your day-to-day rituals, you open up your mind to new possibilities.

The rules for a successful inspiration mission are simple:

  1. The only reason to look at your phone is to use the camera
  2. Throw out timetables and agendas
  3. Seek out the new
  4. Record your impressions, but only AFTER the mission is complete

No matter where you live, there are no shortage of ways to put yourself in inspiration’s path.

1. Art Immersion

Whether you live in a big city or a small town, there is a wide range of ways to experience the visual arts. Wander a museum on a weekday afternoon and see what naturally draws you in.

Non-profit artist collectives or studios will allow you to get up close and personal with the artists in your community and can spark interesting conversations about the cultural themes driving their work. Art in public spaces, such as street art or sculpture gardens in parks, are a wonderful way to observe the interplay between art and the natural world.

2. Live Performances

Plays, opera and ballets are all multi-sensory forms of storytelling that can help quiet the analytical right brain and tap into the more creative left. Rather than purchasing tickets for familiar shows, opt for an experimental performance.

Going to hear local live music or listen to authors reading their work at an independent bookstore is a way to support your local artist community while giving your creative juices a boost.  If you live in or are visiting a big city like San Francisco or New York, seek out the more cutting-edge, such as Pop-Up Magazine or Sleep No More, performance collectives who are interested in engaging audiences in a whole new way.

3. Retail Therapy

Smart brands have created some really compelling retail experiences designed to inspire. Best Made Company offers workshops on knife sharpening and axe restoration at its 36 White location in New York. Rapha’s retail locations, which they refer to as clubs, offer an immersive journey for the passionate cyclist.

From live streaming of cycling events, to a top-notch coffee bar to cigar boxes filled with complimentary cards that outline local rides, there’s plenty to experience without buying a thing. Rare bookstores and antique and vintage clothing shops can transport you to a different time and mindset, while showcasing timeless design cues that never go out of style.

4. The Natural World

Of course the most wondrous inspiration can be found by simply stepping outside. City parks, mountain trails, beaches and open fields all have facets of beauty to share. Landscapes can inspire year round, from autumn’s fiery colors to the stark, bare branches of winter to the vibrant palettes of spring and summer.

Nature is the original inspiration for man-made creations in the material world and continues to serve as an artistic muse, from the dramatic black and white prints of Ansel Adams to Andrew Goldsworthy, whose palette and installations are sourced entirely in the natural world. When the weather is less than welcoming, just flipping through their gorgeous books can help keep your creative juices flowing.

Whether you can commit a whole day or just a few stolen moments to bringing inspiration into your purview, commit to making it a regular habit and a priority.  The creative dividends will pay off. Who knows, your work may even end up serving as inspiration for someone else.

About the guest blogger: Cassie Hughes is the co-founder and strategy director of Grow Marketing, an experiential marketing agency headquartered in San Francisco. Prior to starting her own agency, Hughes served as the Director of Marketing and Publicity for Levi’s. Founded in 2001, Hughes and her partner, Gabrey Means, have built Grow from a two-person consultancy into an award-winning agency that creates live experiences for a range of brands, including Google, Pernod Ricard, Visa, Pepsico, Dignity Health, Lincoln and Levi’s.