An Interview with Ken Mitchell
I met Ken while hunting down the perfect birthday present and wandered into his shop, The Aviary. After realizing I wanted to touch everything in his store, we got to chatting about his background and the building of his store and realized this guy gets it. Every object, from pen sets to cameras, was a playful tool to invest in—and in some cases, rediscover—one’s creativity. It’s so easy to lose our sense of wonder as grownups and he is determined to rebuild play into our culture. Ken was the obvious fit for this month’s talk and we hope you’ll join us! You can grab your tickets for “Paradox of Play and the Creative Process” here.
CM: How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?
KM: I agree with what Steve Jobs said about it: Creativity is about connecting things. There is so much depth to this simple definition. It implies a wealth of experience in a variety of fields and interests are necessary for creative expression. Toward that end, I find myself digging deep into topics that I have little personal expertise; physics, history, religion, psychology, art. It also has meant working in a variety of roles and industries. It means be willing to be an “amateur” over and over again.
CM: Where do you find your best creative inspiration?
KM: It has always been people that inspire me, people that provide me insight into a new way to experience the world. It is easy for me to fall into a routine. When I see someone else’s creative expression it causes me to stretch myself. But in a more practical sense, I find most of my inspiration through simple observation of the world around me.
CM: What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?
KM: Try everything that interests you, especially the things that you told yourself (or were told by others) you can’t because you don’t have the talent.
CM: Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?
KM: Nicole Miller, owner of Blackbird. She has been at the forefront of so many Seattle retail trends, I wonder what she thinks about how creativity can be applied to specialty retail so that it can survive and thrive in today’s internet-centric, mass-market culture.
CM: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
KM: I am doing it right now. I had a good job and when most people my age are working toward retirement, I leapt into the unknown waters of a new retail concept with nothing more than a belief that the retail experience and personal creativity mattered, and that through the process I would find a new path.
CM: What keeps you awake at night?
KM: Irrational Fears- I often wonder why it is that fear, basically an instinctual response to a perceived threat, can be so powerful and night, while hope, a uniquely human quality is not.
Ken Mitchell is the owner of The Aviary, a creativity shop in the Ballard neighborhood that features a variety of unique products to and encourage and enable personal creative expression. In previous lives, he ran product development and marketing organizations for a variety of companies in the toy and baby products industries.
Again, join us for Ken’s talk,”Paradox of Play and the Creative Process” on Oct 11 at 8:30am at the EMP! Tickets here.