How to train your brain to be more creative?

A few ways to train your brain to make new connections (creative thinking).

  1. Disrupt Your Schedule Disrupt your normal routine. Pick a week and discover a new route to the office each day, you'll open up your creative capacity.

  2. Do Nothing Make a point to schedule free time to relax and do nothing, under-scheduled minds have time to dream.

  3. Don’t be Afraid to Screw Up Don't be afraid to make mistakes, it activates a most engaging form of learning (creative problem solving) you'll find ways to make other choices that perhaps are more efficient than the tries that were "errors".

  4. Search for New Things Creative people love to forage for new things. They don't like perfect experiences that are curated. Engage in the work of making new connections and discoveries on your own.

Train Your Brain to Be More Creative

China Counterfeits & Knock-Offs

During my last visit to China to tour factories for a client, I stumbled upon this disembowled Sequin Pet in their showroom.

Clear that this vendor purchased a sample, and dissected it to understand the design. I’m more than certain this vendor also prepared a “copy”.  They were slightly mortified when I shared with them that I was the original creator.  

Not only did this vendor copy this particular design, but they had copied a wide assortment of products developed by my former PD team at Faber-Castell Creativity for Kids. Disheartening but a fact of PD and Design. Unless a brand is actively defending IP, expect to see brilliant design copied, and copied fast.


Sharpening Creative Leadership Skills

From my personal office library, books on leadership.

From my personal office library, books on leadership.

What personal investment do you make in leadership and creative growth? In effort to make sure I continue to build my skills, I enrolled in leadership coursework at University of Michigan via Coursera.

One of the final course exercises was to identify the "why" of what I do in my creative business role of creative leadership. It was a solid exercise and my classmates had good critique for my below submission:

Questions 1 - 3

1. As designers and developers, why do we do what we do?

2. What does success look like?

3. How must we act to ensure success?

My Answers:

A 1. We create products and product experiences for consumers so that they may experience the joys of visual creative activities. We wish to give them the foundation in tools, materials and knowledge in order to continually learn and grow their creative techniques.

A 2. Consumers who are continually building on their skill bases, and experiencing graduated degrees of art and creative knowledge. They are happy with their accomplishments and are confident in continuing their creative journey. Our company is credited with giving them this amazing experience.

A 3. We must continue to serve the customer’s need for new experiences and great products. We must continue to ask if our process is serving them well.

This exercise I'll definitely take with me in my next project challenge. 

Excerpt from: Loadstar Leadership: A Product Development and Designer's Notebook © 2018 Delanie West

Mandala Art Therapy

Mandala Art Therapy - a new product experience via inspiration and call-to-creation packaging Product development doesn’t always require you to create new products, often great new products are a presentation of new experiences using existing products.

A primary responsibility as VP of Product Development and Design at Faber-Castell was developing new-to-the-world products but also presenting new experiences for the 256-year-old brands’ existing product. For the Mandala Pitt Pen Set, the goal was to inspire consumers to experience Faber-Castell Pitt pens in a casual, non-technical way.

This collection of pens, already existing in the brand’s product pipeline, required inspiration in form of packaging inviting (call-to-create) the consumer to experience the therapeutic process of mandala making. To make the experience easy, and to add value - stencils are included. The art of creating Mandalas is proven to be therapeutic “Mandalas can be an excellent art therapy intervention for both children and adults.”

I am available for new product development and product development solutions for your branded or private label line. 

At Age 11 I launched my First Toy & Craft Business - Kid Entrepreneur Selling Craft Kits in the early 80’s 

I like to say there are three categories in the craft business: Do it Yourself, Do it With Me and Do It For Me  In the early 80’s I was in the "Do it For Me" Business.

Id' say "architect" when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. The next best thing when you're 9 is assembling dollhouses. There weren’t many open-ended or even guided craft experiences for kids, nothing like the selections in the market today. Ma and Pa hobby shops sold dollhouses for girls, and model car and truck sets for boys, oh and latch hook kits, that was pretty much it. I couldn’t get enough of this DIY stuff, as many dollhouses, model car sets and latch hook kits as my mother would buy, I’d assemble. Mom told me she refused to allow me to be bored as a kid, I was always crafting, assembling and making.

I officially launched my first DIY Craft Company in 1985. I was CEO, Sales, Designer, Production, Quality Assurance, Shipping and Ad Agency. I kept my operating costs down.😂

"Story Book Cottage Dolls Houses by Dell" ( Even as a kid was branding and selling ) 
My tagline was “Great Gift for all Ages! Years of Enjoyment! What kid thinks about this kind of stuff??? Who was I?? 

"Fully assembled and furnished for 53.00 USD."  The lead time was two weeks. My factory was in my bedroom. I apparently controlled costs by limiting the choice of paint color. 😭 Customers could order a fully customized dollhouse, complete with flowers, a captains’ bed, 2  lounge chairs, coffee table, curio cabinets, table and 4 chairs. 

Storybook Cottage Dollhouse - Greenleaf Dollhouse

Storybook Cottage Dollhouse - Greenleaf Dollhouse

My Sell Sheet - Mom never throws anything away so I have the receipts.

My Sell Sheet - Mom never throws anything away so I have the receipts.

Back when # meant NUMBER! Can you imagine #hashtagging a phone number 😱

Back when # meant NUMBER! Can you imagine #hashtagging a phone number 😱

Dollhouses were (and still are) sold in flat pack boxes, the customer assembled the house and the furniture. This was the part I LOVED.  Someone from my church who knew of my hobby asked me to build one for their kid. I had my first customer. 🎯

I designed (typed) my own sell sheet, samples, pricing list and order form (with up-sell options). My customers could order the ultimate in luxury options, they could select house, trim and shingle paint color. For an additional charge - they could have carpet, curtains, wallpaper, an entire dollhouse family, and whatever "miscellaneous fixtures and furnishings" were. If you wanted to place an order, you filled out the form, called me on the house phone, and paid a deposit. My receipt was on the sell sheet. 

I loved miniatures, and almost 15 years later, I had the opportunity to think in miniature once again as designer and developer for Stickopotamus and later on, Jolee’s sticker line, the first three-dimensional sticker (which rose sticker price points from .99 upwards to 4.99). Thinking in miniature was THE perfect creative process prep for illustration for sticker design. My love of small tiny things was the impetus behind the endless options and line extensions for those enormously successful brands. The DIY in-a-box assembly aspect helped me in my role as VP for the Creativity for Kids brand. Greenleaf Dollhouse influenced many of the creative things loved and created as a product designer. Today you are able to purchase this exact Dollhouse Kit online from $33.00 to $200.00. 

With many years in the art, toy craft business, only this past week did I remember my early venture into the craft business, how could I ever forget that? 😏




What a Vice President of Product Development and Creative for a multi-National Brand Does.

I’m always asked, what a VP of Product Development and Creative for a multi-national brand does?

I’ll share one of the many tasks I enjoyed most, Creative Direction: I’ve written, edited & directed content for a number of #DIY #HOWTO art and creative books & kits. Planning, styling step-by-step images and three language translations. Ensuring a rewarding customer experience and they finish feeling as if they are Basquiat or Picasso.

Most importantly I’ve mentored and shared all these skills with jr. development and design colleagues which makes for a much stronger business unit.



Book projects featured are for Faber-Castell 

4 Steps to Identifying the White Space in Your Market

  1. What do you sell, or what service do you offer? Make this clear to your teams, your customers and to your consumers. 

  2. Who's your target consumer - focus on the niche, you can't be all things to all markets and consumers. Apply a laser focus.

  3. Leverage your core competencies - do what you do best.

  4. Leg up - what's your competitive advantage? Identify it.

Delanie West on identifying White Space

Creative Keys x Delanie West x BeSuperCreative: How Baking & Starbucks influenced Mixed Media Product Development Ideas

Sharing some of my product legacies: These were both fun projects!

Texture Cards were inspired by both my standing in line at Starbucks viewing the beautiful artwork on the gift cards at the register and my love of baking and all of the clever texture & pastry brushes offered to add detail to cakes and sauces. With the growing popularity of artist textures for the mixed media consumer, I wanted to present an inexpensive solution for mixed media artists to manipulate their texture of choice. 

Texture Luxe, also an answer for a luxurious texture experience for the mixed media artist. It was developed in three colorways: Silver, Gold, and Pearlescent. 

Texture Luxe Gel Medium Whipped Spackle, Gelatos and Texture Cards
Silver Texture Luxe & Texture Cards
Texture Luxe and Texture Cards
Unprinted first samples for approval.

Creative Keys x Delanie West x BeSuperCreative: Vision Boards - Creative Direction - Product Development & Design

This was an interesting project. All the materials were included to create your custom vision board and help you visualize and your goals! Learn how to create vision boards that are both beautiful and inspirational #Visionboard with #design_memory_craft #Vision Board kit! (Instructional kit, fabric planning board, pens, #listing sheets and embellishments)