“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.” – Steve Jobs
I’ve been thinking a lot about where ideas come from. This is in observation of where my own ideas come from, and in fact as I started writing this post, I ended up writing an entirely different post that will be a continuation of this thought, just adding further fuel to my question. I think the short answer to that is “who knows?” they seem to just get beamed down from the heavens and knock around in your brain until you do something with them.
I moved from Los Angeles to Boulder in 2010. If you had told me then that I would end up living in Louisville, Colorado, population 30,000 and voted Best Small Town in America, I would have thought you were nuts. There’s no way this city girl would be living quite literally out on the prairie in the Best Small Town in America. But life has a funny way of working out, and John Lennon was right about it happening while making other plans. I wasn’t making this plan.
Annnny-way, Here I am, in Louisville, Colorado, a small but undeniably charming town with all the trappings of quintessential Small Town USA, so perfect in it’s American small-towniness, you can hardly believe it’s real. If Pleasantville or Mayberry existed, this is it.
Charming as it is, small town livin’ has presented me with challenges as a creative person. Truth be told, LA made me crazy. I had a love/hate relationship with it for the 10 years I lived there, and by the time I left I craved a little peace, quiet and free parking. But once away, I realized how much I soaked up from life in a city – I liked the chaos, the grit, the local characters, and the mish-mash of architectural styles, people, and the fact that you could never ever claim there was nothing to do. Los Angeles’ personality shows up in layers, and you can see it and feel it in its unplanned mess of urban sprawl. I kind of loved it. The mess that is LA provided an endless source of visual stimulation and ideas.
And now I’m learning to love an entirely different kind of place. Louisville couldn’t be further away on the lifestyle spectrum from LA or any big city. As I mentioned, it’s small, it’s quiet, and it’s very well behaved. It’s orderly and cute and the streets are lined with adorable old homes left over from its days as a mining town. I walk around here a lot – because you can do that – and let myself get distracted by the scenery, which, at first gave me a lot of inspiration, but then after awhile became kind of repetitive because well, it’s a small town and there are only so many streets a person can
Repetitive gets boring, but it can also be a great creative challenge. In design, there’s the idea that limitations make for an interesting result, and in fact are often required. Without them you can do anything, and if you can do anything, you often don’t know where to start. Limitations provide a jumping off point and focus. So I guess I could say that Louisville has become my design project/weirdo artist conceptual piece with limitations. When I take walks through town, I could quit looking around and just lapse into a hypnotic autopilot stroll because it would be easy to think there’s nothing new to see. But that’s not true. In my quest for interesting pictures (for Instagram, I admit it!), I starting noticing something — when I was no longer being struck by a particular thing that caught my interest, I realized that maybe I was keeping my focus too small. I needed to widen my perspective, and that’s when I started noticing a larger pattern — the little white houses of Louisville.
Louisville is peppered with these old small white homes, every one different from one another, but somehow seeming like they belong to the same collection. Art school friends, I know you’re thinking, uh, Becher. Everyone else who’s wondering, “Becher?” Click here: Becher. Suddenly, I had something new to obsess over, and collecting images of these little white houses became a creative game. Then I started noticing other patterns. Louisville is also populated with some funky colored suburban houses, and then that became a project — most likely to be revealed at a later date. And undoubtedly that idea will eventually lead to yet another revelation.
There will be more Little White Houses of Louisville to come. Follow Bigbad Industries on Instragram to see them and other ideas as they pop up.
What inspires you about where you live? If you don’t know, take a walk and start looking! Then report back and share with me below.