Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Music Videos

Music videos are a fascinating medium for popular visual culture. Check out www.submarinechannel.com for the work of some of the top music video directors like Spike Jonze, Jonathan Glaser and Michale Gondry

Thursday, April 06, 2006

design inspiration & entertainment

Creativity on Demand

We've all been there - that cold, barren landscape where ideas fear to tread. You think to yourself, "right, now I'm going to think of an idea," so you get a piece of paper and a pencil and sit down on your chair. Then? Nothing. Hmmmm....maybe the blankness of the page is intimidating, so you doodle a bit....actually, maybe what you need is a cup of coffee. So, you get some coffee and come back to discover that no ideas have been lured onto the page you've nonchalantly left on your desk. Damn! So you doodle some more....hmmmm. This can go on for hours and leave you feeling frustrated and completely demotivated.

So what exactly is the best way to go about it? It's all very well to get up on a Sunday and think, "Today I feel creative!" and paint a beautiful picture you've been thinking about doing for a while. No problem! Easy as pie! The problem with being a creative professional in any industry is that people pay you to be creative. Suddenly the mysterious, magical activity of creating something completely new is a product/service, like toothpaste or being a proctologist (aaaargh!). The worst bit is that you have to do it on demand. This is where it can get rather tricky.

Firstly, you need to realise that creativity is a process. It's easier to be 'spontaneously' creative when you've spent time thinking about it beforehand.When you start painting on that lazy Sunday most of the creative work has already been done. The process is there, you're just following it intuitively without really being conscious of it. So therefore to be creative on demand you need to be able to consciously direct yourself through the right steps, even if it's in a pretty informal manner. Below is a quick overview of the innovative or creative process (thanks to Discovery Training). Next time you're stuck or have 'creative block' take a look and see if you're missing any steps.

  1. Environment: make sure you're in a place where you are comfortable. Some people find that they need a lot of stimulation: music or TV or a crowded street cafe environment. Others find that they need peace and quiet with no disruptions. It's easier to produce creative work in an environment where you don't feel threatened, pressured or distracted.
    When you get stuck try changing your environment: go for a drive, go out for a cup of coffee...look around your environment for ideas...

  2. Focus: Design is a problem solving activity. Get a clear idea of what exactly it is that you're trying to do. A graphic designer experienced creative block while trying to design the templates for an intranet for a client who wanted something "similar but different" to their website. After trying out a few unsatisfactory design ideas she went back and thought about what really made their intranet different from their website, how could the design communicate this? She ended up focusing the metaphor of a home, and approached the design more as an interior decorating exercise, taking a contemporary designer home as inspiration. This lead to a very successful original design which could be validated to the client.

  3. Generate: People often make the mistake of skipping straight to this stage and not spending enough time defining the problem they are solving. As a designer this is where you start finding reference, playing with design elements and variations. It's easy to get stuck here, hmmmm, maaaybe if I move this block left.....no, ctrl/apple-z....er....what about if I move it down a bit.....not sure....what about an extra line....hmmmm...ctrl/apple-z, ctrl/apple-z, ctrl/apple-z, ctrl/apple-z.... You need to recognise when you're not exploring options but just messing around and wasting time because you have no focus or direction.

  4. Harvest: This is the point where you narrow down your ideas and focus on one or two of them and develop and expand them. As a designer your skills really come into play here as you refine and extend your initial concept, as always it's important to keep your focus in mind or you may end up drifting.

  5. Implement: The last thing you need to do is implement your design. If it's a print design this might involve finalising the design, making sure that the job is set up in the most cost-effective way, making sure that the artwork goes out on time, checking proofs etc. If this step is neglected all of the time and effort you have put in is basically a complete waste. If Picasso had just thought really hard about cubism and made a few small doodles of his ideas instead of painting on large canvases, we would never had heard of him.

Friday, March 24, 2006

One Hundred Billion Neurons

A human brain weighs in at about 1.4 kg and has about one hundred billion neurons, connected via synapses. Your brain makes about a million new connections for every second of your life! In fact, if you think about it, there are more possible connections between neurons in a single human brain than there are atoms in the known universe!

Thank goodness for that! We can all breathe a sigh of relief - coming up with brilliant, creative concepts should be dead easy then...
...shouldn't it?