Saturday, 28 September 2013

on rabbit holes and creative process

Inside a Japanese woodblock print studio. Total immersion in the process. Photo by Kylie Budge (circa 2003)

 A fellow researcher, Melonie Fullick (@qui_oui) and I have been chatting about rabbit holes and the PhD process on Twitter lately. This is because we both feel like we travel down somewhere deep in apsects of our research work, and it feels like a solo place where we can't think about other things. We just have to tunnel down like a rabbit and do our thing there for a while until we're ready to come back up. Melonie even wrote a blog post about it yesterday. She describes the process and feeling well, I think.

As I read her post this morning over breakfast it got me thinking about the creative process and how it has similar rabbit hole qualities. You know that feeling, when things are going well with a project and you forget to eat and can't bear to stop. Hours and hours can pass by without you noticing. Psychologists call this 'flow', the idea where immersion in creating is so deep that time seems to stop for the person involved. They also talk about it being a single-minded immersion. Which led me to the rabbit hole analogy. It's a similar idea.

I was thinking about this quality of single-mindedness the other night as I watched Jennifer Byrne interview Elizabeth Gilbert on the ABC. Elizabeth was talking about the process of writing and creating her new work of fiction, The Signature of all Things, a massive 512 page story set in the early 1800s. When she spoke about writing this book and bringing the story to life I was struck by the details, the collecting and sorting and researching and weaving of all the tiny minutiae that make up a fantastic story (and if Jennifer's reading of it is anything to go by, it will be great. The book will be released next week). Surely creating something like this requires at least one rabbit hole? Maybe more?

And yesterday I read Lucy Feagins interview with the Sydney artist Cressida Campbell on The Design Files. I've always admired Cressida's prints so was really excited to see this interview. In it she talks about her process. One thing that struck me is she said that while a small work can take her 2 weeks to make, a larger work can take up to 4 months. And Cressida admitted she usually only works on creating one print at a time. A great example of the rabbit hole! Check out the article with Sean Fennessy's beauitful photography showcasing Cressida's studio.

I wonder, do you experience the rabbit hole feeling when creating? Or something else entirely?

Friday, 20 September 2013

happiness is...

I've been really enjoying catching up on some of the Creative Mornings Melbourne video series, so I thought I'd mention another recent one that provided me with quite a bit of food for thought. Designer/Illustrator and 'multi-disciplinary' maestro, Beci Orpin, spoke about happiness and creativity in this lovely video.

Beci speaks with lots of examples from her life about what keeps her happy, and links this all very closely to her ability to maintain a work life driven by design. She mentions the following happiness points important to her:

+ her sketchbooks
+ making mistakes
+ riding her bike
+ breaking the rules
+ having her cats around
+ diversity
+ finding inspiration
+ community
+ running your own race

Two things I found quite wonderful to hear her speak about were 1. making mistakes, and 2. running your own race. Beci shares a very honest tale of what she feels was probably a business 'mistake' earlier on in her designer career. I found it refreshing to hear how she viewed this and the learning she drew from it. It would be easy to write something like this off as a failure and dwell on it unproductively for ages. Instead, she used the experience to figure out what she is better at and used this to propel her forward into other design adventures.

The second point, about running your own race, was communicated simply, but holds a powerful message. Beci talks about not getting caught up in what your creative peers are doing and measuring your progress against this. Feeling envious, jaded or ripped off 'is a really big waste of energy', she says. Which is so true when you think about it. And turning your thinking around to see it like this totally changes your perspective from being a negative one to being positive. So run your own race is her main message here.

What brings you happiness in your creative world? Enjoy the video!

Friday, 13 September 2013

documenting the lives of creatives

Studio of Aysen Bayram. Photos by Paul Barbera from Whey They Create.

Something else that jumped out of me from Lucy's talk on image making and the new image economy (see previous post) is the beautiful documenting of creative work spaces that some are undertaking. One such person is Paul Barbera who produces Where They Create, a gorgeous image folio of people in their creative work environments from all over the world. Swoon!

Another production of a similar ilk is that of fvf who collect stories and images of creative folk in their work spaces from different parts of the globe in their series, workplaces. Ooo la la! Through their beautiful photography and text we can see the creative environments of people like artist, Jeongmoon Choi in Berlin or graphic designer, Etienne "Akroe" Bardelli in Paris. This particular collection tends to produce quite a bit from Europe giving those of us far, far away some insight into the creative working environments generated in that part of the world. I love this series and have been following it for a while. I also like the fvf series, interviews, which includes one of my favourites with 100 year old publisher and artist, Gisele d'Ailly van Waterschoot van der Gracht (an impressive name, non?) in Amsterdam.

What amazing and important projects! This documenting of artists, designers and makers in their work spaces and homes, along with interviews about their creative lives is a goldmine of inspiration and insight. Mine that gold, absorb it and share it around, I say.

Friday, 6 September 2013

the new image economy

Recently I watched this fascinating and inspiring talk by the very talented Lucy Feagins from The Design Files as part of the Creative Mornings Melbourne series.

What I loved is the way Lucy talks about something she calls 'the new image economy'. She does in the context of the publishing industry having been thrown on its head of late and talks about what this means for image makers, and how they might make this topsy-turvy space work for them, rather than against them. As well as describing the way the image making industry works in publishing (both print and online) she argues how the new image economy enables image makers to 'be in the driver's seat' and wrest control, despite appearances to the contrary with the proliferation of images on the internet.

The main take-home message raises quite a few questions regarding traditional ideas about intellectual property, something image makers have had a hard time hanging onto over the last 5-10 years, particularly on the internet. Lucy speaks about this issue in relation to her super-popular blog, The Design Files. I was intrigued by the different phases she says she has traveled through to reach a space where she says she has become 'quite zen' about it all, understanding as she does that the image economy has a way of paying back, even when her images are pinned on say, Pinterest, or re-blogged. It's an interesting notion, one with much value and enormous dollops of generosity. And one I think I like very much.

See what you think. Go watch the whole talk now.

Thanks to Erin Wilson's blog for helping me find the video in the first place.