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The NZ Creativity Challenge 2015, luck and frustration

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I recommend luck as a key requirement for creativity. Another serious asset is frustration. Luck and frustration had everything to do with the beginning of The Learning Connexion.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I went to art school and hated it. The best thing that happened was catching pneumonia, dicing with death and then going to Palmerston North Teachers College (having failed to complete my art studies). The teachers college was brilliant – a shining light in New Zealand’s blotchy story of education. Alas when I was sent into schools (‘on section’ it was called) I found them very distressing. Instead of catching pneumonia I finished the programme, achieved favourable mention and decided that I couldn’t survive teaching in a regular school. I set off to Auckland to make woodcut prints and be part of the counter culture (not something that existed in Palmerston North).

Auckland liked my artwork but not on a scale that paid the rent. What people really wanted were hippie posters. We’re talking 1969, a time when hair dressers lost customers, men danced naked at pop concerts and it was fashionable to experiment with dodgy chemicals. I was a bit different so I bought a book to learn silk-screen printing because the poster option looked like fun.

My first efforts at DIY printing where technically terrible but they sold – in a single bulk purchase. We managed to get a stand at NZ’s first pop festival and scraped together enough money to hire a booth at the Auckland Easter Show.

002 Milne brothers Richard and Jonathan 1971

Brothers: Richard and Jonathan Milne - 1971

By this time my brother Richard was doing a lot of the printing (we had built an efficient little cottage industry). The show got off to a sluggish start that inspired us to a new idea. On day two we created a look-alike poster of Peter Fonda on a motorbike (the movie ‘Easyrider’ was a current hit). My brother printed like a madman while I fronted our 3 x 3 metre stall. On day three we were mobbed. There were times when people were ten deep, pushing to buy a sheet of paper with a stark black image on it. By the end of the week we had enough money to buy a house and my brother bought a motorbike of his own with the change.

003 eclectic posters circ 1971

Eclectic Posters - 1971

The whole saga was like a foretaste of the NZ Creativity Challenge 2015. It involved a creative blend of business, technology, art and risk taking. The frustration helped because it was a motivator. Without motivation there’s no drive to get out of bed, let along attempt to climb impossible mountains. Luck helped – right time, right place. And there was something else. Pneumonia taught me something about myself and about education. I wanted to develop a new option in education – an option for people who believed that creativity is just as important as reading, writing and arithmetic. Twenty-six years ago I started The Learning Connexion. The Creativity Challenge is part of the continuing story.

The conference theme is ‘Creativity Crosses Boundaries’. It’s a celebration of diverse disciplines. It brings together some world famous experts on creativity, opening their hearts and minds to each other and to you. For experts, think rock stars. These are people who matter for education and for our galaxy. We can expect an incredible creativity festival. And check out the seriously amazing ticket options on www.creativitychallenge.co.nz or visit via www.tlc.ac.nz


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