Blinns put creativity to work

By Alexandra Kukulka

Students frequently meet with their counselors to discuss their futures at Columbia and beyond. Some may agree with the advice they are given, while others may soon forget what they are told.

For students in the second category, spouses Bob Blinn, an adviser in Columbia’s Advising Center, and Mary Blinn, assistant to the chair of the Music Department, have written a book titled “Putting Creativity to Work” that aims to help students become successful artists by offering guidance similar to a college counselor’s.

The idea for the book came during Bob’s 20 years of counseling students in the Film & Video, Theatre, Music and Dance departments. According to him, the ideas in the book are what he tells students every day.

“He tells this to new students who come in and [gives the same advice] as a workshop a couple times a year,” Mary said. “He just decided that he had to put this in writing.”

Another reason the pair decided to write the book was their 40 years of experience as  Chicago artists. Bob is a filmmaker and Mary is a graphic designer, film animator, songwriter, poet and fine artist.

They wrote the book in very general terms so that it can reach students of all creative backgrounds, an easy task because of all the creative work they have accomplished, Mary said.

Creativity is the same throughout the art world, Bob said.

“Nobody can teach creativity,” he said. “We can teach you how to use it. That is what this book is about. It’s how to get [creativity] out there and to not be afraid of it.”

According to Mary, Bob wrote the book and she edited it. The first draft was eight pages long, so she told him to make it longer by adding more detail and having fun with it. She explained to him that students can hear his tone of voice and his points of emphasis when he gives them advice, but it didn’t translate into writing.

The book was written for high school and college students, Bob said. It can help high schoolers pick a particular creative field they want to get into and assist higher education students in making the most of their time at an arts college, he added.

“Every student I talk to, this is the first time they are hearing this,” Bob said. “I think [the book] should go along [with education] because if they know this stuff as early as possible, they can start connecting with their faculty and fellow students.”

Mary and Bob are most excited about the book being sold at ShopColumbia in the Wabash Campus Building, 623 S. Wabash Ave. The proceeds will go toward student scholarships. The couple is already affiliated with the faculty and staff scholarship program.

The most important part of the book is its focus on internships, Bob said. According to him, he wrote that resumes are not as important for applicants as determination and a person’s sense of self.

Elliott Scott, internship coordinator for the Audio Arts & Acoustics Department, said he agrees that internships are important for networking and building the foundations of a career but he believes resumes are essential to secure both.

“Even if you don’t need it to get the internship, resumes are a great foundation to start with [for future jobs],” Scott said.

Once a student gets an internship, the book encourages collaboration with other artists to enhance his or her own creativity, Mary said.

“Most creative people don’t do just one thing,” she said. “They really don’t. Whatever you do creatively you have to support with some other creative thing.”