What do an athlete and an artist have in common?
The Creative Performer journey began in 2010 and has been evolving ever since. Amanda and Jarred met in graduate school. Jarred was in the final year of his MFA in Graphic Design, and Amanda was just starting her Ph.D in Psychology while also winding down the final year of her career as a track and field athlete. At the time they met, both Amanda and Jarred were deeply immersed in the formative years of developing and refining their professional crafts. Since then, they’ve been having a ten-year conversation about the numerous and exciting discoveries and overlaps in their fields. These discoveries eventually led to the development of the Creative Performer, which intersects the worlds of sport / performance psychology and creativity to assist creative professionals in learning to manage performance pressure and other performance blocks more effectively. We’ve found that this process for creatives essentially mirrors the same process as other high performers due to the focus on producing outcomes under evaluation and the subsequent stress that arises. Most of us are familiar with the image of the distraught field goal kicker that misses the game winning kick—and the popular, but flawed notion that “they had one job,” but we aren’t as familiar with the trials and tribulations of what creative practitioners experience as they attempt to continuously manifest creative outcomes for themselves—or for their paying clients. Amanda and Jarred actively co-teach Creative Performance driven projects at the university level, lecture and write about Creative Performance for academic conferences, and host workshops with professional creative teams currently operating in the private sector.
Amanda Alexander is a Licensed Psychologist specializing in Sport & Performance Psychology and founder of Stretch Performance Psychology, a private counseling + consulting practice. Amanda specializes in working with high performing and creative populations such as athletes, performing artists, physicians/surgeons, and graduate students. She views her craft as a marriage of art and science and is passionate about helping others reach their fullest potential in whatever field they strive to excel within. As a previous collegiate Division I Track & Field athlete, Alexander earned Academic All-American (second team) honors and was a member of the 2009 Indoor National Championship winning Track & Field team at the University of Tennessee. She continues to stay highly active through yoga, running, swimming, paddleboarding, traveling, and always staying on the lookout for a good piece of chocolate or a new houseplant.
Jarred Elrod is a proud citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, a practicing Graphic Designer, and an Assistant Professor of Graphic Design at the University of Florida. His primary area of research is developing cross-discipline methodologies to enhance creative potential and mental resiliency in design students and practicing professionals. As a practitioner, Elrod works on client-based and self-initiated projects primarily situated in the areas of social justice advocacy, higher education and theatre. Elrod received his B.F.A. in Graphic Design from West Texas A&M University and his M.F.A. in Graphic Design from the University of Tennessee. He has taught as a Visiting Professor of Graphic Design and Illustration at Gaungxi Arts Institute in Nanning, China and his work has been featured in HOW Magazine, the Texas Biennial, the Bolivia International Poster Biennial, The Uruguay International Poster Festival, and more. When he’s not teaching or making, he can be found on ambitious, coffee-fueled road trips with his with his spouse and their Labrador Retriever.