Designer Ethan Bodner, a senior at Hartford Art School, is the author of Creative Grab Bag, a collection of work from artists, illustrators, and designers from around the world. Bodnar created more than 30 unique tasks and gave each contributor a task that different from his or her typical work. The book, which contains images of each artist’s creative task, typical work, and a biography with a short reflection on their creative process, captures the spirit of exploration and innovation and challenge readers to break out of their usual work.

creative grab bag

What inspired you to write Creative Grab Bag?
Creative Grab Bag is about exploring your creativity and I think that is what I did by pushing myself further to make and publish a book. I had been seeing people launch book projects online that involved a diverse group of contributing artists for their books. From there I just decided that I wanted to make a book. The idea of actually doing something that could be tangible was really inspiring.

What was your process for writing/compiling it?
The first thing I did was create a very long list of artists, designers, illustrators, and all sorts of creative people who I had been bookmarking or looking at their work online. Then I created a website and sent out emails to them all inviting them to be part of the book. So many amazing people said “yes” and I am grateful for their support and contributions.

How did you go about getting it published?
I looked own my own bookshelf to figure out who published the design books that I had. From there I did some more research on the internet and found that all the publishers had contact information and instructions for pitching a book. So I emailed them all to see if any were interested, and HOW Books was!

What was your favorite part of making Creative Grab Bag?
The best part about putting together Creative Grab Bag was the amazing artists that I got to work with. It brought me so much happiness to check my email and see a new piece of work come in it that someone had created specifically for my book.

Advice for non-fiction writers and artists?
Just start writing and making your book, email lots of people, and don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice.

What are some things that you feel stop people from being creative?
Everyone is creative, I think the fact that many people don’t realize that is the main thing that stops people from being creative. You don’t have to be an amazing painter or something visual, creativity comes in many forms.

What do you know now that you wish you knew at the beginning of this project?
The most important thing is to just connect with people. It’s so easy to just send someone an email and reach out, many times people will respond to you.



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