• Greg Ellis

That one time where I was on a creativity panel with a musical idol

The dude on the left of the picture, who looks like he's listening intently to everything I'm saying (but in reality is probably itching his chin, that's Warren Maxwell. He's been in bands like Fat Freddy's Drop, Trinity Roots and Little Bushman - all bands I listen to. Along with Warren, I'm up at Massey University alongside fashion designers, writers, animators and creatives to talk about my creative process to a bunch of Massey students and staff.

It is one of those moments in my life where the Impostor Syndrome has kicked in. Despite being in the creativity business for 26 years it can still be a weird and humbling experience to be sitting alongside people like Warren and talking about what I do. Largely, I believe, the hour was spent with me trying not to squeal with delight. Hopefully along the way I had some interesting, or better still, useful things to say.

One of the things I did talk about is the concept of the "staffie". I think this originally came from hospo where there are a certain number of free drinks that staff members get during the night. I like to think that when I'm performing or creating things I slip some "staffies" in - things that were originally just for me. Jokes or characters or a prop or something that tickles my fancy. I do this to keep things fresh for me but you have to balance those with becoming self-indulgent. Because if it's all just stuff you slip in there for your own benefit you end up alienating people. Over time what I've discovered is that "staffies" are often some of the best moments in a performance or creative piece. Audiences really respond to the sense of freshness and energy you bring to them and they can end up being special moments for everyone. Not every time - putting obscure historical references into an improvised comedy show may not hit the mark with anyone but as long as it doesn't interfere with what I'm trying to do it's good.

People who do creative work for a job often forget to keep doing things that challenge and entertain them and in doing so they lose some of the spontaneity, sense of play and fun that makes their best work come alive.

It was good to be reminded of that. And meet Warren Maxwell. Actually mainly meet Warren Maxwell.

#Wellington #creativity

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