CREATIVE PROCESS

NoVEMBER 1-10, 2019

Daily Creative Output

For my daily creative output, I decided to create one machine per day that solves some problem in my life. I plan to do so through sketching an illustration of a machine idea on paper for each day of the process.

OCTOBER 1-15, 2019

Reflecting on Transportation Project

In order to create our final product, we put a strong emphasis on refining our creative process as a group. We decided to break it up into several individual steps and reflect at each stage of the process. We began by selecting our readymade material based on qualities of its strength, malleability, and customizability. We them moved onto brainstorming using techniques in class such as mind mapping and sketching in crazy eights. Following this, we went through a series of prototypes to create our boat iterations. We took time to reflect on our final product and ended up repeating the creative process in order to deliver a more unique, well-crafted, and transportive final product.


I worked quite well with my partner through the process. We struggled in finding times to meet together as a group and ended up conducting some of the prototyping processes on our own. However, during the times that we were able to meet, we effectively discussed what we wanted to achieve in the final product and researched to ensure we were able to create it. I think the key factor behind our teamwork was the fact that we were both extremely passionate about creating the product and took no issue with spending ample time working on it through the late night.


The most important thing I learned in the process was that it’s ok to reflect on why an idea isn’t working out and to go back to the drawing board. This was surprising to me mainly because I thought we wouldn’t have enough time to create a satisfactory final product. Nonetheless, because we were more passionate in creating our stereopticon idea than the boat idea, we were able to put in the time necessary to develop the product to its completion.


I think what we did best was being comfortable to scrap or refine whenever we found issues with the product. Our prototyping process went through so many iterations because we could identify exactly what problems were impeding our product from reaching its final form. Our comfortability with deleting or editing parts of the product improved its usability and function by miles from what it once was. In addition, taking the time to work with precision through the use of calipers, laser cutters, Adobe Illustrator, Fusion 360, and Affinity Photo ensured the final product had the smallest possible margin for error.


For next time, time management in the product development process could definitely be improved. Most of our prototyping and crafting of the final version were done towards the end of the process. Although I was happy with how it turned out, I’m certain that if we had made more effective use of our timeline, we could have addressed the remaining issues that we noticed with the final product. With a product so dependent on functionality to deliver its effect, it’s imperative that sufficient time is left for testing and fine-tuning of variables.

September 29-30, 2019

Responding to Bon Appetit's Gourmet Skittles Video

Claire Saffitz’s video in which she tries to create her own gourmet version of skittles provides a detailed look at the ideation and iteration process in the context of cooking. She begins the video by analyzing skittles through their weight, ingredients, and composition. Her ideation process starts with determining what ingredients are closest to the ones listed and she begins to experiment with different ways to create the skittles form. She becomes very conscious of variables that she adjusts in the cooking process such as when the sugar was too hot, or the flavor was too sour. Another important step she takes is sleeping on her ideas by taking multiple days to refresh her mind.

Claire’s techniques are all about learning through failure and experimenting with each variable. Such a detailed iteration process was able to very quickly get her the skittle properties that she was aiming for. Saffitz also takes the time to consult her colleagues for both method advice and tasting feedback. Getting opinions form multiple people provided her a more comprehensive picture of where there is room to improve.

 

When she finished working on her final product, she made sure to go back and explain the process from beginning to end. This helps viewers learn from her process. Saffitz also takes the time to reflect on her result and note a few final differences between her skittles and the commercial ones. If she were to go back and further iterate, these aspects would be her first things to think about improving. All in all, her video demonstrates how ideation and refinement can be effectively used to turn an ambitious idea into reality.

September 17-23, 2019

Creating two Creative Expressions of the word "Fear"

[17/09] When tasked with creating two creative expressions for the word "fear" I began by creating a mood board filled with visual stimuli to help me in the ideation process. I selected images that pertained to a red, black, and gray color palette as I thought these colors most effectively conveyed the emotion of fear due to their association with darkness and blood. One issue that I encountered in creating my mood board was that I could not get the printer to print in color despite trying 5 different printers. Nonetheless, I'm happy with my selection of images, textures, typefaces, and colors that make up my impression of fear.

[18/09] I made an effort to select artworks that included forms and textures that evoked a feeling of fear. These were key inspirations which determined my visual style on my 20x30 in format. Conceptually speaking, I tried to experiment with the idea of fear and phobias by thinking about common or archetypal fears. Things that sprung to mind were insomnia and the "monster living under your bed". These concepts eventually weaved their way into my matchbox expression.

[20/09] The first format that I created was my 20x30 in 2D format. Through exploring various images and concepts surrounding fear during the ideation process, I narrowed my expression down to abstractly representing the "feeling of fear". In thinking of my personal encounters with fear and with what other people have experienced, I can envision the feeling of being closed in, and being vulnerable. My 2D expression attempts to visually replicate this common feeling of fear through the use of color and form to convey threatening shards converging on a vulnerable organic form (representing the viewer and their experience with fear). I tried to stay true to the suprematist and abstract examples I found in my mood board exploration, and chose to work with colors that I found earlier.

[21/09] I'm fairly pleased with the outcome of my final product. It was an effective result coming from a few rounds of iteration and revision. The first round of iteration was ideation, the second was creating the mood board, and the third was drafting out this piece and rearranging the elements before finalizing the final iteration. Some things I learned through this specific process were to draw out the "shattered glass" forms onto the paper before cutting. By doing this and organizing the shards around the canvas before gluing, I was able to enclose the rounded silver form from all four sides effectively, and retain the appearance of a shattered material. One aspect which I could have improved on was increasing the density of shards to create a more aggressive frame to house the figure in the middle. The shards appear more like fire than shattered materials in some peoples' interpretations, which was not my initial intention. The motif of fire does seem to work well with my theme of fear nonetheless.

[22/09] For my matchbox formatted piece, I could not find a matchbox despite searching a few convenience stores. In order to work around this problem, I looked up the dimensions of a standard matchbox online, and built one myself out of cardstock paper. My matchbox format was inspired by the fear that children would get when going to sleep because of what lurks in the darkness. I felt this way as a child and would often see figures staring at me through windows or doorsills. The motif of a bloodshot eye not only represents these creatures staring at you from "under the bed", but also nods to the notion that these fears are only within one's own head and keep you awake. In other words, we're more afraid of what we can imagine than what we can see.

I'm quite proud of the concept that went into this piece, as I thought it built nicely upon a trope or stereotype that most viewers will be familiar with. I'm also proud of the fact that I was able to construct a matchbox myself knowing that I wasn't able to find one at a store. One difficulty that I encountered while constructing this was that the dimensions I found online presented a very long matchbox that would not be ideal for creating a bed shape. In order to accommodate for this, I reworked the dimensions for a 6cm long edge instead of a 12cm long one. This resulted in a bed that was more proportionally accurate. One wish for this creative expression that I was not able to fulfill was drawing the eye onto a mirrored surface. This would have helped construct this notion of fear being entirely within oneself. I did look for mirrored materials at a craft store to incorporate, but I was not able to. In order to compromise, I drew the eye on regular printer paper and inserted it into the matchbox. I think this was a fair solution given the circumstances and doesn't erode the piece conceptually. 

The most valuable part of this exercise for me was learning how we can take steps in visual ideation that lead us to a final idea. By using a mood board to ideate (something I haven't really tried too often before), I was able to determine a visual theme that united both pieces. Creating a mood board allowed me to develop positive creative restraints that ultimately led to some interesting ideas, like the matchbox piece. One aspect I hope to develop for the future would be further iterating my pieces. I only got the chance to do a quick scrap paper sketch and go right ahead to making the piece. After learning the limitations of my method for both the 2D and 3D executions, I could have benefited from making another draft for each with visual and conceptual refinements. Nonetheless, I felt that my ideation process and ability to visualize improved as a whole.

September 10, 2019

Responding to Kirby Ferguson's "Everything is a Remix"

Kirby Ferguson's short documentary, "Everything is a Remix" documents a brief modern history of intellectual property and the idea of "remix culture". I found this to be a really fascinating take on the concept of idea ownership as I have taken private intellectual property to be a given for a long time. Thinking about copyright as a byproduct of commercial culture rather than an ethic seems to make sense more now than before. One of the immediate thoughts that sprung to mind was where do we draw the line between plagiarism and inspiration? On one hand, as students we have to turn in assignments that truly reflect our individual understanding of a subject. On the other hand, no idea is truly original and it is good practice to incorporate the ideas of others into your own work (aka standing on the shoulders of the greats). I have encountered this dilemma in my own visual arts work in high school. When using reference images from the internet, my teacher insisted we credit and cite our sources, but tutorials or guides don't have to be cited. What makes a reference image different from a tutorial as intellectual property? Either one of the two will significantly influence one's final work. Similarly, either one of the two was a unique creation by an individual. Furthermore, my work would not be complete without acknowledging the contributions of either a reference image photographer or a tutorial writer. Why is it then that one is classified as inspiration and the other as plagiarism? Upon closer inspection, it seems these paradoxes manifest themselves throughout any creative inquiry we undertake as students.

As much as I agree with the rejection of concepts like intellectual property discussed in the video, I don't agree with ideas being entirely free. In today's world, being credited for your own creation is critical for survival as both an income-earner and an artist. If great idea-generators are never truly recognized for their contribution (because others made quick spinoffs), they may not get the attention they deserve as they come up with future ideas. The intellectual freedom that removing copyright might introduce can also diminish the role of the individual in the process of innovation. Additionally, being legally restricted from copying ideas can be a form of creative fuel. The smartphone market is a classic example of this. As new features are invented by each manufacturer, the other will create an alternative which acts as a slight improvement (but not exact copy) of the original. Despite the fact that each company is its own entity, the nature of copyright allows the cellphone to be a product going through constant iteration by each independent developer.

 

Knowing the nature of this catch 22 between intellectual freedom and privacy, it becomes challenging for me to opinionate on whether I believe in intellectual property as we know it. There are a couple changes I can, however, recommend. The case of patent trolls in the video seems like a clearly stifling process to idea generation and technological progress. Only granting patents to inventors that have clear intention to deploy their product in the real world, and to ideas specific enough not to serve as an "umbrella term" will prevent patent trolling from continuing. Additionally, reducing the time period in which an idea is the sole intellectual property of its creator will speed up the global cycle of innovation. This is difficult to quantify given the varying nature of each idea, but I believe that copyrights shouldn't guarantee full protection to their creators. All in all, this was quite an eye-opening look at how intellectual property can so easily hinder innovation. In the future, I'll be able to reflect on both where I am deriving my own ideas from and how my contributions are used by others. It's critical that society agrees on a way to treat such an abstract set of ethics as it could easily shape the course of human innovation as a whole.

September 8, 2019

Beginning to design personal website

Today I made my process site using Wix.com. In the future I would like to create my own site using html but that's for another time and place.

 © 2020 by Samuel Levin

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