Intermitten 2016: A Celebration of Creativity and Technology

I had the pleasure of being in the audience for the first-ever Intermitten conference in Ann Arbor on August 5 and 6. If you didn’t attend, you missed out on quite a memorable event, brimming with great insight, innovative technology and wonderful creative minds. Between the wide variety of presentations, the subsequent activities and wealth of conversations, I left the event with numerous takeaways that I will be applying to my creative process.

“Be creative because you know you have to.”

Zach Saginaw (Renowned electronic musician)

Panel on Creativity & TechnologyThe above quote provided a clear and concise summary of Intermitten’s overall message. Everyone who spoke at Intermitten exuded a strong passion for what they did and leveraged that existing drive into a career. Passion came first, and the pursuit of excellence created opportunities. Creativity shouldn’t be forced due to an obligation or set of end goals. Find an interest and dive in for the sake of learning and enjoyment.

“Notice what you notice and trust that it matters.”

Sean Hoskins (Dance Technology Coordinator, University of Michigan Department of Dance)

In all creative pursuits, confidence is key to success. Trusting your observations and their significance is the first step in breaking new ground in your craft. After all, if you doubt your creative taste, everyone else will too. Go out of your way to fully analyze minute details that you may normally shrug off. If you noticed it, it means something! As Sean said: “Explore and reframe. Get in there. Be curious!”

“Deep understanding comes from playful practice.”

Sam Pierce Lolla (Co-Founder, Made in A2)

I like this because it concisely explains the relationship between the first two quotes. “Playful practice” implies being creative for the sake of being creative, not because of obligation or necessity. It is during these times when you’re truly and deeply immersed in your medium that you’re going to notice the nuances you may have otherwise overlooked. Exploring your medium once or twice is not enough. Experiment over and over and over, and learn from the process.

“Passion isn’t enough.”

Dustin Bromley (Event Marketing Coordinator, Unbounce)

Most presenters at Intermitten spoke from an impassioned and personal perspective, focusing on a holistic approach to their creative process. However, a few presenters offered more broken-down, pragmatic steps that provided valuable counterpoint to the bigger-picture nature of most presentations.

Dustin Bromley outlined his three-step approach to creative execution thusly:

1. Find your natural process.

    Are you an idea person, or do you work best improving an existing idea? Dustin highlighted creative dynamics in a team environment, acknowledging that different people fit into different roles during the conception of a creative piece.

2. Listen to John Cleese.

    John Cleese famously said, “Distractions kill creativity.” This rings true; in order to be creative, we need to remove ourselves from them.

3. Start small and just do something.

    Getting started on a creative project is the most difficult part of the process. Simply taking action will help get the ball rolling. Regardless of the size of the effort, begin the process.

Nancy Shore of the Ann Arbor Transit Authority explained the difficulties that face the adoption of alternative transportation, including convenience, immediacy and habit, and her team’s approaches to solving them. Using things like commuter challenges, games and apps, the Ann Arbor Transit Authority’s creative solutions have shown promising results.

Highlights from the POP-IN at the Ann Arbor Art Center.

All in all, Intermitten 2016 was an enthralling experience, and it was clear that all the speakers were truly passionate about their presentations. The insight was real, the camaraderie positive and the environment inspiring. It was impossible not to leave the conference pumped up about my own creative endeavors and about being a member of the Ann Arbor creative community. I know I’ll be applying the above advice towards my writing, music and overall professional attitude. If you didn’t attend this year, I highly recommend that you make the trip out next time around. I know I’ll be there.

*All pictures sourced from Intermitten’s Twitter page.

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