Top Places in Milwaukee to Spark Creativity
As any creative thinker knows, when faced with the proverbial blank canvas, sometimes you gotta walk away from that canvas. Walk away, clear your head, and hit “refresh” on your right-brain thinking. But where to go? Here are a few spots in and around Milwaukee that may help you rediscover your muse.
GO LOW: Our city has a ton of great coffee houses to find a corner nook and whip out that sketchpad. But, this is Milwaukee — so when the situation calls for a little more, I like to hunker down in a dark corner bar to find inspiration. Sometimes the combination of a dart board, bad lighting and classic rock on the jukebox is just enough to unlock the block.
GO WANDERING: When looking for inspiration, flipping through dog-eared copies of Communication Arts will only get you so far. Our fair city has no shortage of interesting neighborhoods to wander through by foot; I recommend a stroll down Farwell Avenue on the East Side. Start with the murals in Black Cat Alley, then head southwest past the Oriental Theatre toward Brady Street. Along the way you’ll find telephone poles blanketed with DIY band posters, small record stores loaded with inspiring artwork on album covers, and even some funky taxidermy at Koppa’s to challenge your reality and shake up your creative juices.
GO SERENE: Likely not a surprise here, but the openness found along our “third coast” does wonders for the creative soul. There’s just something about the endless horizon and open water of Lake Michigan that invites your inner zen to hook up with your creative muse for an inspiring evening stroll along the beach.
If you’re looking for more than a leisurely pace while purging your creative blocks, I’d recommend a bike ride on the Oak Leaf Trail. Or a run, if that’s your jam. Or, since it is Wisconsin and winter is here, strap on some cross-country skis. Cruising along any section of the path, past rivers and parks and through classic Milwaukee neighborhoods, will do the trick; opening your senses to your natural surroundings will naturally free your creative mind — and undoubtedly burn a few calories along the way.
GO INTO THE PAST: Admittedly, fresh air doesn’t always equal fresh ideas. If that’s the case, you may want to try an indoor spot that will inspire — and delight — your creativity. Peruse the wonders of an antique store, where a vintage item with classic typography may spark an idea. Spend a few hours in a museum — art, history or culture — to open your mind. Or, for really tough creative problems, give your right brain a break and hang out at the Milwaukee Public Library downtown, where you can admire the architecture, indulge in people-watching, and simply roam the stacks until you’re ready to refocus on concepting with a fresh perspective.
Whether you consider Milwaukee a small city or a big town, there are a ton of spots to spark the next great idea. Spots that are just quiet enough, or busy enough, or funky enough, or…well, you get the idea. If you’ve got a few, consider yourself lucky. If not, then try out some of these places. And when you find the right spot, dream up the perfect concept, and win prestigious awards for your work, don’t forget to thank me in your acceptance speech.