How the big questions you have can turn into a blog

Oana Filip

Steve Chap­man is a TEDx speak­er cheer­ing cre­ativ­i­ty on his blog made with Felt. He helps peo­ple and orga­ni­za­tions flour­ish their poten­tial in life-chang­ing ways. Can Scor­pi­ons Smoke is his dig­i­tal crib where you can get lost with­out regrets.

I had the plea­sure to chat via e-mail with one of our emblem­at­ic cus­tomers. In fact, we con­sid­er Steve almost a friend since we suc­ceed­ed to cre­ate such strong bonds. I loved find­ing out more about the sto­ry behind the scenes and hope­ful­ly you will too have plen­ty of things to learn from this inter­view.

For Steve, CSS has noth­ing to do with cod­ing skills. It comes from Can Scor­pi­ons Smoke?

Q: Who’s Steve and what’s the story behind

Steve: I’m a UK based artist who writes and con­sults on cre­ativ­i­ty and the human con­di­tion. If I’m not in my lit­tle stu­dio at home I’m work­ing with indi­vid­u­als, groups or organ­i­sa­tions to help them (re)discover their own cre­ative spir­it.

Q: Where did the passion for creativity come from?

Steve: I was an incred­i­bly cre­ative kid at pri­ma­ry school. My teach­ers real­ly sup­port­ed me and used to encour­age me to write and illus­trate sto­ries and read them to the younger kids.

How­ev­er, when I moved up to sec­ondary school at age 11 it all changed. The focus was on aca­d­e­m­ic achieve­ment which I wasn’t par­tic­u­lar­ly good at and my cre­ativ­i­ty got lost some­where around that time. I left school with poor grades and decid­ed that I wasn’t par­tic­u­lar­ly cre­ative or clever. It was only lat­er in life (in my mid 30s) that things start­ed to change.

I had some real­ly sup­port­ive boss­es at work (in a big cor­po­rate) who, like my pri­ma­ry school teach­ers, encour­aged me. They spon­sored me on a num­ber of things includ­ing an MSc in human cul­ture and change. It was here that I dis­cov­ered the cre­ative spir­it once more, writ­ing my dis­ser­ta­tion on spon­tane­ity. (I start­ed my blog around this time too) I soon left the cor­po­rate world and took the rather scary step of set­ting up my own busi­ness. I have nev­er looked back.

On a num­ber of occa­sions I’ve con­sid­ered pay­ing a web design­er to do my blog but both Patch and Felt have giv­en me the tools to get the site look­ing exact­ly as I want it to.

Q: What made you pay it forward to other folks?

Steve: At one lev­el, every­thing I do is for me. My writ­ing is sim­ply me mak­ing sense of the world. My art is sim­ply me explor­ing who I am. But I have found that through open­ly shar­ing all of this with oth­ers that it is a resource for them too and may help inspire them to nur­ture their own cre­ative spir­it and bring more adven­ture and play into their lives.

And at the same time it intro­duces me to loads of amaz­ing peo­ple who, in turn, inspire me so it is a sym­bi­ot­ic thing. So many of us had a sim­i­lar expe­ri­ence to me and leave behind our cre­ative spir­it. But as George Bernard Shaw once said “We don’t stop play­ing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop play­ing.” I hope my lit­tle blog helps us stay young in some way.

Look after Steve’s speech — ”This talk isn’t very good. Danc­ing with my inner crit­ic”

Q: What influenced you to start a blog in the first place?

Steve: When I fin­ished my MSc in 2011 I found that I still had so much that I want­ed to write about but had no more assign­ments to encour­age me to do it.

The blog was my way of writ­ing stuff and see­ing what peo­ple thought of it and it evolved from there. As I look back at some of the ear­ly posts it seems like a dif­fer­ent per­son has writ­ten them. This is great as it shows me that the blog has been a very impor­tant and help­ful way of hon­ing my writ­ing and influ­enc­ing what I am inter­est­ed in.

I get e-mails from peo­ple telling me that they enjoyed get­ting “lost” on my site!

Q: How does the current digital crib help you on a professional level?

Steve: The blog has nev­er been about gen­er­at­ing work, sim­ply shar­ing my cur­rent think­ing, the big ques­tions I have in my head. And this is love­ly because it means that I pay very lit­tle atten­tion to brand­ing, prod­ucts, ser­vices (etc) and focus all of my effort on con­tent. But, some­what para­dox­i­cal­ly, this has con­nect­ed me with loads of real­ly inter­est­ing peo­ple who are of a sim­i­lar mind­set which has led to all sorts of things.

The blog has also been real­ly help­ful with the aca­d­e­m­ic work I do (I’m vis­it­ing fac­ul­ty on a few MSc pro­grammes) as there is always a rel­e­vant piece of writ­ing I can send on to stu­dents as a bit of pre-read­ing or fol­low-up read­ing.

Q: How do stand out and nurture a community around your blog?

Steve: My phi­los­o­phy is sim­ply to only ever write stuff that I’m inter­est­ed in and then give it away to who­ev­er wants it and a brand has emerged around this that has a fol­low­ing.

Most peo­ple read the blog because they too are inter­est­ed in chal­leng­ing the sta­tus quo either in their own lives or in their organ­i­sa­tions and they tend to for­ward on posts to oth­ers who have sim­i­lar inter­ests. So, in this sense the com­mu­ni­ty has grown organ­i­cal­ly and occa­sion­al­ly I’ll get peo­ple com­ing to work­shops or events because they’ve been read­ers of the blog for many years.

It start­ed to feel like the blog/theme was a part­ner­ship rather than the usu­al supplier/client rela­tion­ship.

Q: Why did you switch themes and change the look-and-feel of your blog?

Steve: I used the Patch theme for many years and loved it but felt that it didn’t have the flex­i­bil­i­ty that I need­ed. I want­ed to be able to dis­play con­tent in a num­ber of dif­fer­ent ways such as recent blogs, pop­u­lar blogs, events (etc) and felt looked like it could do all of this exact­ly how I need­ed. The amount of cus­tomis­able options in Felt is incred­i­ble. There isn’t a sin­gle thing I’ve not been able to do.

On a num­ber of occa­sions I’ve con­sid­ered pay­ing a web design­er to do my blog but both Patch and Felt have giv­en me the tools to get the site look­ing exact­ly as I want it to.

Q: How does the current theme help you achieve your goals?

Steve: The abil­i­ty to seg­re­gate posts on the front page is per­fect. That and the chance to have a num­ber of dif­fer­ent­ly func­tion­ing sec­tions on one page. It allows those who want the lat­est posts to find them eas­i­ly, those who want to browse old­er posts, those who want to find out about work­shops (etc).

And peo­ple arriv­ing at the blog for the first time have a trea­sure trove of stuff to explore. I get e-mails from peo­ple telling me that they enjoyed get­ting “lost” on my site!

I’m here to help you create a fabulous blog

Express your ideas bet­ter next to me.

Get start­ed now

Q: You’re a true believer of our work. What convinced you to choose us?

Steve: First­ly it was because I liked the look of the Patch theme but then I dis­cov­ered how sup­port­ive and respon­sive Pix­el­grade were. It start­ed to feel like the blog/theme was a part­ner­ship rather than the usu­al supplier/client rela­tion­ship.

So, when I want­ed to change the look and feel of my site I was delight­ed to hear that Felt was com­ing. It feels like we’re all in this togeth­er which is so rare these days.

Beau­ti­ful illus­tra­tion made by Steve for our crew

Q: How would you define the experience of collaborating with our crew?

Steve: It is an absolute joy. It feels like a part­ner­ship where I am writ­ing con­tent to show­case the theme and the Pix­el­grade crew are devel­op­ing a theme to show­case my con­tent.

I asked Steve two kind favours: one was to draw some­thing that he thinks it defines our col­lab­o­ra­tion (that’s how we got the love­ly visu­al from above), and the sec­ond was to leave a mes­sage if there is some­thing he would like to have known ear­li­er. Stay awe­some, mate! 👏

A blog is like a fin­ger­print — it is unique­ly yours. Ignore all the advice about what to do, how to do it and just do what­ev­er you want to do, when­ev­er you want to do it. And those peo­ple who are most gen­uine­ly inter­est­ed in what you do will dis­cov­er it.

Steve Chapman reaches his and others' potential through the power of creativity. He's sharing inspiring stories about his activity on a beautiful blog made with Felt.
Oana Filip
Oana Filip

Digital storyteller @Pixelgrade and community builder for creative industries. A true believer in the power of making the world a better place.