Shop Talk

Open Discussion: What Do You Do to Let Your Creative Mind Rest?

In this week’s Open Discussion, I’m making the assumption that most of our community spends so much critical “mind-time” making, illustrating, designing, reading, watching, or thinking about creative pursuits. Even if we’re not actively producing in the studio, our minds are still ticking over layouts and other creative ponderings, right? So what do you do when you’re NOT thinking about the next big thing? How do you let your brains rest? What do you do in your time off to let your minds run idle?

Many of the artists I know work day jobs in addition to the many hours they spend on their own artwork, and somehow they manage to find time to switch their brain off for a while. Nearly every artist I know binge-watches seasons of TV shows on their laptops after working in the studio for 10 or 12 hours (I’m looking at you Mad Men, The Wire and, Breaking Bad). Do you let your mind chill out at all, and what do you do in this time?

Author Haruki Murakami goes swimming to let his brain switch off and relax (as did Kurt Vonnegut). Beethoven used to disengage by engaging in making coffee precisely the way he liked by obsessively counting out 60 beans to go into each cup. Interestingly, it seems there’s no one specific activity that allows the brain to relax and re-group by focusing on other (often repetitive) tasks, but it seems there are activities that feature a series of routines which open up a new space for thinking (or not) for creatives. John Milton used to meditate in the early mornings, and Victor Hugo used to take ice cold baths on his roof, proving there’s no one way to recharge creative brains.

"Inner Dialogue" by GrizzlyGaz

At the artists studios I work in we often hit a tennis ball against a wall (Shining-style) or watch an episode of TV shows after a particularly heavy session of working on our own artwork. What works for you? I’m particularly interested to hear unusual enterprises that aren’t the most common examples. Other unusual activities that are routine or heavily repetitive are also welcome, as I think there is a correlation between repeated action (like running a bath or running laps) that allows us to mindlessly relax.

Let us know in the comments below how you let your brain rest?