What I have learned the most during this unit is that values are equally important as design skills. We are all inevitably influenced by our values. For example, I know that I like my design experiences to be fun, open and filled with a lot of conversations with others. When I get to engage in these activities during my creative process I find that ideas come quicker and my ability to explore is easier. These are the moments I find the most joy in design, so I try to make sure that each project, whether at school, or at work, is centered around enjoying the process. I know when I’m not enjoying it, I won’t be creative. When I’m not enjoying it, it feels like a job not a design opportunity. While I never really thought about this as a creative value, but more a personal value, I have learned that when the two merge I find more passion in my design and more desire to make it better.
Archive for February, 2013
At the beginning of every quarter I am always so excited about what I am going to learn. It always seems like just the right timing for me. I start feeling like I haven’t stretched my creativity at work, my mind wonders throughout the day and I crave being able to design. Then the quarter starts and I quickly find myself wondering what did I get myself into! Work inevitably gets busy, my home life gets busy and school get busy and I wonder what the heck am I doing? What I have found interesting, is as the end of the quarter nears, I start to reflect on the projects I’ve done and the conversations I’ve had with classmates and I get excited all over again for the next quarter. It’s so interesting to me that regardless of how stressed I get, I still find calm working on my school projects and I wonder how can I carry this over into my job? Is it the lack of limits in school that I find exciting? Is it that I don’t have to worry about the number of hours I’m charging to a project for design? I’m not sure, but I do know that at least in my current position, there is something that does not carry over from my education experience into my professional experience. Is it the same situation for others in the field? If so, I wonder what can we do to change this? Do we need to help non-designers understand the value of design exploration? I find design is a difficult line item to convince a client to invest in during a large project. Research, programming, printing, etc all seem to be rationale expenses, but “design exploration” not so much. Again, I think about his at the end of almost every quarter and I want to try and find a meaningful way to integrate it into my daily job.
Reflecting on Hugh Dubberly’s “How Do You Design?” models, I definitely realized the area that I lack the most in is in envisioning and openness. I find doing my day-t0-day job I have definitely fallen into the pattern or getting a task, researching it and then just doing it. Whether it’s because of a deadline, or perhaps because I’ve been doing it for so long, I find myself getting complacent in my design solutions. It’s like “OK, another website, let me do what I know will work and what I know they’ll be happy with so I can move onto the next project. It can be a frustrating part of my job understanding that I have to move quickly and sometimes an idea pops into my head that I either can’t implement in time, or can’t convince the client to engage in. This is what I enjoy the most about school is that while the quarters move quickly, I still have more time than in my job to explore opportunities. It’s also been great to exercise this part of my creative process in school. I find the more I engage in it during the quarter, the quicker I can explore it during my word day. I do think that design thinking is like any other skill, if you want to get stronger, you have to exercise it. When I was in undergraduate school, the practice of design thinking wasn’t taught as rigorously as it has been during my graduate studies and I have been so grateful for the lessons.
Kelli Anderson’s video this week was probably one of my favorite I’ve watched all quarter in any of my classes. It was interesting, at first, I was kind of bored and was thinking “Ugh, this is going to be a long video.” But, then she started talking about her theory of disruptive wonder and show how she approached this in her creative life. I loved it! It was one of those moments when you think, gosh, I wish I had designed that. What I liked the most about how Anderson described things was it was light-hearted. Oftentimes when I read, or listen to people talk about shaking things up, it always seems to be in a more aggressive manner. Anderson was fun, she made me laugh and it inspired me to want to follow her guidance in my own creative process. I am completely open to disruptive wonder and would love for it to be part of my creative process. I feel like disruptive wonder is what graphic design is all about, it’s not just about doing what people ask, but adding a little spice into the ordinary brochure, website, or business card. This isn’t completely new notion to me, but I have to admit it was the first time that I actually felt the desire to want to try harder. Again, I loved Anderson’s approach to design and I admired the level of fun and joy she expressed in each example.
I was raised by two parents who absolutely adore jazz music and one of them is quiet the musician herself. When I was younger, we went to jazz concerts all over the world, talked to the musicians and learned about the music, flow was something that always seemed to come up in conversations. Sure, I understood it in theory and there were times we were at concerts and I could feel something that seemed like “Wow! all of the musicians were just on!” But, on a personal creative level, it wasn’t until I was in my 20′s and exploring my creativity through painting that I really experienced flow for myself. I remember painting one night and I was listening to some great jazz music and before I knew it the sun was coming up. I remember being amazed that everything seemed to just come so easily that night, I wasn’t questioning anything, I wasn’t trying to solve anything, it just flowed out and I lost myself in the moment.
That is what I have learned about my creative flow; I can’t force it, I can’t make it happen, I just have to be open and patient and have confidence that it will happen. Yes, there are times when I’m up against a deadline at work, or at school, and I begin to worry that nothing is sparking in my mind, but I try to continually remind myself to just trust myself because it will come. I try to remind myself of this during all steps of my creative process, but I admit that I sometimes forget it particularly at the beginning when I’m researching, reading and trying to find answers. It’s not until I get to sit down and create that I take a breath and try to stay open. I would like to insert this reminder during my research and collaboration steps of my creative process. In my earlier post I identified my greatest weakness as my bias to just jump right into a solution and I feel that is because I am blocking my own creative flow to get the job done. If I can be committed to staying open through all phases of my creative process, I think my experience of flow may actually come sooner and perhaps make the rest of the process easier.
In an ideal world, this diagram would be my creative process. To start, I receive a task. Whether it’s from a client, my boss, my teacher, a friend, whatever it all starts with someone saying “Hey, we need this!” Maybe even me saying it. The next step is to learn about it. The basic who, what, where, why, when questions that must be answered or I feel a little lost. Then I begin to research it. Oftentimes a task is centered on a business that I have no knowledge of. On any given day I might be working with a custom home builder, the military, a non-profit and a pet service company. By no means do I know the ins and outs of these businesses, or their audience. This part of my process is always the longest. I find I struggle with a design if I don’t understand the business. I find that research and collaborate go hand in hand quiet often. Most of the time the individuals that assist me with my research are also the decision makers during the project. While I’m learning about what they do, we continually bounce ideas off each other, brainstorm and explore possibilities. Then comes the fun part – I get to create! This is always the part I enjoy the most, taking all of the information I’ve collected and put it all together. I love making sense of chaos in a creative way. Then sometimes it’s back to the drawing board for revisions, hopefully not too many because I’ve listened and interpreted well at the beginning of the process. Then we’re done, but it doesn’t mean I end things there. While in the diagram, things may visually end, but I think it’s important to always explore how anything you create can evolve and grow over time.
The skill I would welcome the most in collaborating with others is someone’s ability to “think outside the box.” I find my biggest weakness is that I have a hard time moving beyond the expected solutions. I think a lot of it comes from working in an environment that clients want the same thing day after day and it’s very hard to convince them to be “different.”
The most successful process during Exploration A was brainstorming with my classmate Laurel. While we were not assigned partners, we checked in with each other throughout the project. In my day-to-day job I rarely get to take the time to brainstorm, particularly with others, mostly just with clients. While it’s very helpful to brainstorm with clients, I found it so refreshing to brainstorm with other designers. I didn’t have to explain everything too much and the ideas we bounced off each other pushed my creative process. It was great! I think the element that was missing the most was a clear understanding of what I wanted to do. I never really felt like I grasped this exploration. Perhaps it was the fact that we had no constraints and that is a foreign thing to me constantly working with clients. I always have guidelines and then I work within them. I also think I got stuck on one concept and found it difficult to go outside that idea when I realized it may not work, I just kept trying to figure out how to solve the design problem within my idea instead of maybe just going in a different direction. While I understand we have to work within the timetable of the school quarter, I also think it would have been helpful to spend less time picking words and expanding on the list of words and allowing more time to brainstorm with our classmates.
My self-assessment for Project A visual presentation – let’s see how objective I can be!
Presentation Topic Introduction
I thought the introduction was fine, but I debated for a long time if the introduction to the definition of “DIY Design” was too long. I kept thinking about cutting it back, but what I found most interesting during my research was that it was the hardest part to do. We all assume DIY is just “do it yourself” but when I actually thought about it, graphic designers “do it” themselves, so I felt it was important. What I found most revealing, and something I’m considering exploring for Project B is if the DIY debate is fueled by the actual lack of a definition.
Tone was acceptable, but I think I could have tried to be a bit more casual, accentuate phrases better and slow down a bit
There were a few times I would differ in how I referred to DIY, sometimes it was DIY Design and others it was DIY Graphic Design. I need to make sure I am consistent in the phrase in order not to get confusing.
I was pleased with the presentation, I had more animation ideas in my mind, but have to admit that time constraints just caught up with me. I also think I could have used more imagery to support what I was saying towards the end, particularly the section about the pros and cons.
I thought it flowed well, but ended a bit abruptly. I was unsure how much I should go into a conclusion without seeming to take a side – that was my biggest challenge. So, what I tried to do was set the stage for Project B.
I was pleased with the timing. There were a few mistimed elements, specifically the Martha Stewart section, but all in all I was good with it.
When looking back at my original definition of graphic design during Unit 1, not much has changed. I still define it as the way I communicate with others. However, what has changed is my view on design thinking. To be honest, I hadn’t given it much thought before this class, and hadn’t really even thought much about the term. After going through the Bootcamp Bootleg writings and exercises, design thinking became a term that meant a lot to me. Prior to reading it I would just think of things as “creative blocks” or I would just brainstorm in my head. Now I realize that design thinking is about more than just brainstorming ideas, it’s also about making exploring opportunities between unseen connections. Typically someone would ask for a business card design, or a website and I would say “ok, what should I do?” I didn’t really take the time to explore connections between design items that may never occur to me; I totally jumped into the obvious and thought I’d make it original by doing some new design element. Now I realize that it’s valuable to take that time before working on a piece to “think outside the box.”
Another element that has evolved since the beginning of this class is understanding I do have heuristic bias’ within the way I design. I always thought I didn’t and that I was pretty open to all things. But, after exploring our discussions, talking with classmates, and again reading through the Bootcamp Bootleg I realized I am guilty of many of the patterns a designer can fall prey to: jumping to the obvious solution, making the surface connection and not really challenging myself. So, while my definition of graphic design remains in tact, I do interpret elements within graphic design differently.
With our mid-term projects due next week I found my design thinking mind has been on overload the past few days; trying to brainstorm this, sketch that, research over there and type a blog here. I posted two blog entries earlier tonight and then sat down for a little retail therapy and brain numbing with a cup of tea and a brownie. I visited some of my usual favorite shopping sites to see what was new and if anything good was on sale and then I typed in one of my favorite t-shirt stores into my browser: http://www.creativegrowthforeverybody.com/. The website is Creative Growth for Everyone and it is the collaborative partner with the Creative Growth Art Center in California. There mission is to serve adults with mental and physical disabilities in a studio environment for artistic development, gallery, exhibition,and representation. The center hosts exhibits and offers classes in a wide range of art categories and they sell many of the items made by the studio artists on the Creative Growth for Everybody website.
I love this organization and the thoughtful campaigns they produce to help raise awareness and spread voices for those who may not have the opportunity to do for themselves. After a long week of work and school and feeling frustrated I was browsing through the shirts and happened to click on one of the artist’s bios. I felt inspired and fortunate to be a designer who gets to be in the same community as these inspiring artists and it made me appreciate the voice I get the opportunity to explore every day. While I stepped away from school work to rid my design frustration, I found myself appreciating it even more and reminding myself to never take my opportunities for granted. It’s amazing where we can find inspiration, especially when we’re not looking.
Some of the products from the website: