, Inspiration, Professional Development

3 Ways to Amp Up Your Creativity at OKC’s Festival of the Arts

attendees enjoying the Festival of the Arts in downtown Oklahoma City

You’ve been sitting in the same desk, in the same office, doing the same job for what feels like eons — we know the feeling. When you get into a professional rut, sometimes the best tactic to dig yourself out is to surround yourself with people whose zest for life hasn’t been extinguished by the daily routine of stale break room coffee and ringing office phones.

Fortunately for us all, Oklahoma City’s Festival of the Arts is just days away, and the annual event gives everyone from kids to college students to professionals on the edge of burnout a chance to reset and spark their creativity. With that amped up creativity, you can find unique solutions to workplace problems, increase your satisfaction within your career, and bring different perspectives to tasks that you’ve had running on autopilot.

The festival takes place April 23-28 at Bicentennial Park and places you right in the heart of Oklahoma City, where you’re surrounded by makers and creatives and the most ingenious new foods you’ve tasted all year. So, if you’re looking to reignite your creative chi, give the Festival of the Arts a try and find dozens of ways to bring creativity back into your professional life.

Find Your Inner Lyricist Through Live Music

four musicians in cowboy hats playing instruments on stage at the Festival of the Arts in downtown Oklahoma City
All photos courtesy Festival of the Arts

Studies have shown that engaging with music can help us be more creative. That means dabbling in music creation, cuing up your favorite Spotify playlist while you walk your dog, or, like the Festival of the Arts, surrounding yourself with musicians of various genres and backgrounds.

Take this study on creativity from the scientific journal PLOS ONE, for example. It examines two groups of people performing the same task: one group that listened to “happy music” (in this case, it was classical music high on arousal and positive mood), and another that performed the task in silence. The findings?

“Music listening can be easily integrated into daily life and may provide an innovative means to facilitate creative cognition in an efficient way in various scientific, educational, and organizational settings when creative thinking is needed.”

In other words, music is a big contributor to boosting your creativity. At the arts fest, seek out the live music stages featuring over 300 performers, including local favorites Chase Kerby and the Villains, Beau Jennings and the Tigers, and Shortt Dogg.

Soak in Visual Art to Combat Mental Fatigue

an artist painting an octopus at the Festival of the Arts in downtown Oklahoma City
All photos courtesy Festival of the Arts

Just being around visual art, like strolling through a museum or turning one of your cubicle walls into a mini art gallery, can reap professional benefits for anyone. The popular tech, finance, and politics website, Business Insider, has our back on this one, citing a study that showed students have stronger critical thinking skills and are more socially tolerant after visiting an art museum.

“… Other research shows that (more general) arts programs may help older adults keep healthy and stave off cognitive decline, though more studies are needed in the area,” the study pointed out.

That’s proof enough for us to expose ourselves to art any chance we get. However, the evidence doesn’t stop there.

Also from Business Insider: “Visiting a museum can relieve mental fatigue and restore the ability to focus in the same way that the outdoors can, according to research from the University of Queensland in Australia — this research wasn’t limited to art museums, which is why the assignment doesn’t require an art museum specifically.”

While the arts fest isn’t technically a museum, it’s quite possibly the next best thing. Plus, it showcases artwork from 155 artists from across the country, so you’re bound to be inspired by something or someone. This year you’ll even get to take some inspiration back to the office with you if you stop by the brand new photobooth, complete with props and artwork spinning off of this year’s theme, “Born in a Day.” Share your pics on social media with the hashtag #OKCFA and get inspired by others who’ve visited the festival.

What’s more? Anyone can glaze their own pottery, thanks to Paseo Pottery, and have it fired in an on-site kiln to pick up an hour or two later. How’s that for a visual representation of how truly creative you can be?

Get Inspired by the Work of Culinary Creatives

We’re not here to hawk “15 foods for creative thinking,” or “seven best meals for a mental boost,” although we do believe there’s some logic in that. Instead, we’re here to say the Festival of the Arts touts outside-the-box dishes that, when you really think about the creativity that went into constructing them, could help you bottle a little bit of that imaginative lightning for yourself.

Stop by one of the many culinary demonstrations and see how to create an extraordinary dish on your own or learn a new skill to use in the kitchen. It’s one huge area for inspiration, said festival co-chair Susan Whittington. You can learn the art of sushi-making with Yukozuna, then head to their food tent to try one of their poke bowls.

“I think you get really great tips from some of these chefs, like simple things like how to best peel garlic,” she says. “They give you lots of different tips — especially for young people who might be a little intimidated by cooking. I think it would be a very good idea to stop by if you’re interested in food or cooking.”

Just look at the fig and prosciutto crepe from Crepe Brewers — that’s nothing like the grab-and-go breakfast you pick up on the way to your 9-to-5 or the bowl of cereal you scarf down before running out the door in the morning, now is it?

Exhibit B: The tequila bread pudding from Interurban. Who would have thought this distilled beverage would ever find a home in bread pudding, and somehow it would be delicious? It’s that creativity in the unexpected pairing of food that festival organizers hope inspires attendees to live a little more creatively in their day to day.

Find the festival’s complete menu here, and when you go, challenge yourself to try something new, like the cherry dessert egg rolls from Taste of Soul, or the Belgium waffle parfait from Brown’s Kitchen, or the grilled cheese doughnut from Tom + Chee, or the … OK, we’ll stop now.

What else is inspiring? The fact the festival is one of the most Earth-friendly events you’ll find around OKC, as everything is either recyclable or compostable. As festival co-chair Randy Lewis says, “There is no Planet B, only Planet A.” (Nice one, Randy.)

Looking for more ways to boost your creativity? Check out our other blog posts on the RSC@OKC Innovation Station blog!