creative-confidence

Creative confidence by David & Tom Kelley

Resources

“Creative confidence” is the first book I listened to instead of reading ūüôā I think it was a good choice to opt for an audio book this time as walking through the process seemed a bit more personal, which is in line with the topic.

We are reassured from the beginning¬†that creativity lies within us all, despite the belief that only the “chosen ones” (aka talented people) can be creative. The book is about fighting this preconceived notion and¬†achieving creativity confidence which is, as the authors state, the base of innovation.

You can find a preview of each chapter here¬†and you can read below my over-detailed notes ūüôā

source: http://www.creativeconfidence.com

source: http://www.creativeconfidence.com

Chapter 1: FLIP – from design thinking to creative confidence

The human-centered approach is at the core of the innovation process, therefore understanding people’s needs, motivations and beliefs,¬†is part of the design thinking process along with examining¬†the technological feasibility (technical factors)¬†and the economic viability (business factors).

There is no standard recipe for bringing new ideas to life but many programs include a variation of the following innovation steps:

  1. Inspiration: seeking new experiences, connecting with people, looking at other industries to see how the issues are addressed
  2. Synthesis: translating the research into actionable items
  3. Ideation/experimentation: generating countless ideas and creating prototypes for the most advanced ones
  4. Implementation: refining the design through an iterative process

It’s important that during the process you keep a¬†growth mindset, the belief that we can expand our capabilities through effort and experience. Combined with¬†focused intentionality, which refers to¬†not leaving anything to chance, it can work miracles or at least, great accomplishments ūüôā

Chapter 2: DARE – from fear to courage

We all should be familiar with the fear of failure, fear of being judged, fear of the unknown…

And most of us try to keep away from failure but it seems that what brings you closer to success is to be prepared for more failure. Or on short, failure sucks but instructs. There is no magic potion, creative people just do more experiments as innovation is a trial & error process. What seems impossible in a giant leap, it is manageable in small steps through incremental change by taking one small manageable step at a time.

Designing for courage:

  • Be a fly on the wall in an online forum¬†by¬†paying attention to customers’ feedback, pain points & latent needs
  • Try your own customer service by pretending to be a customer in order to live the experience by yourself and find gaps or improvement opportunities
  • Talk to unexpected experts (receptionists, medical assistants, repair persons)
  • Play detective and pursue insight¬†by¬†observing how people interact with your product and/or service
  • Interview customers, tell them you’d like to ask a few questions and follow-up with¬†questions like “why?” and “can you tell me more about it?”

An interesting feeling that I believe¬†we all experience when playing a game is hoping until the last moment that victory can be ours even if the situation is not looking always bright ūüėź Apparently this is useful in the creative process (so keep it active!) and there’s also a name for it:¬†urgent optimism! ūüôā

Chapter 3: SPARK – from blank page to insight

In this chapter, we receive a long list of things to do in order to cultivate our creative spark:

  • Choose creativity: even if it sounds a bit silly,¬†attitude¬†is important so like any other thing that you want to accomplish, you first need to¬†decide that you want to make it happen and put efforts into it
  • Think like a traveler: pay close attention to the environment around you, expose yourself to new ideas & experiences, see the world with fresh eyes in order to rediscover the familiar, think of it as a treasure hunt.
  • Take a class in a creative discipline
  • Read magazines & blogs of your interest
  • Listen¬†to different kinds of music
  • Look out for new ideas from different countries, companies, industries
  • If you are stuck on a problem, get away for 20 minutes (you can¬†take a walk)
  • Engage relaxed attention:¬†allow your mind to make new connections with seemingly different ideas by daydreaming
  • Empathise with your end user¬†by observing the users interacting with the product or by interviewing¬†them
  • Do observations in the field. This is¬†a powerful compliment to interviews as you can find latent needs, not so obvious in¬†an interview. When you notice a discrepancy between what you see and what you expected to see, dig deeper. It’s not what you know that gets you in trouble but what you know for sure and it’s not quite so.
  • Ask questions starting with “why” and/or “what if” to understand the motivations behind
  • Reframe challenges. Before searching for solutions, step back and reframe the obvious question in order to address the real problem.
  • Build a creative support network. You don‚Äôt have all the answers and you don‚Äôt need to generate ideas all on your own.

Now, go get¬†sparkling! OR, if it still feels like a big challenge, you can read¬†some tips about how to get moving ūüôā

Chapter 4: LEAP – from planning to action

Two words: DO mindset. Meaning that you need to minimise planning and focus on¬†doing quick prototypes followed by numerous iterations.¬†Translate thoughts “wouldn’t be great if” into deeds and you can even keep a bug list to come up with¬†ideas for improvement.

Action catalyst:
  1. get help: involve someone
  2. create peer pressure: have someone else in the room to get started
  3. gather an audience: talk your ideas through and get feedback
  4. do a bad job: just get something out there
  5. lower the stakes: give less importance to the events

Chapter 5: SEEK – from duty to passion

You can see work as a job, career or calling. In order to have a rewarding professional life, you should be asking yourself 3 questions:

  1. What are you good at?
  2. What would people pay you to do?
  3. What were you born to do?

The last question is usually the hardest to answer so you can try a few tricks:

  • Watch out for the activities¬†where you are completely immersed, when you find your flow
  • Write down each day what made you feel best and gave you satisfaction
  • Jot down the things that you love and explore the key elements that make you happy, then commit time daily to experiment with something in the area
  • Experiment with all kind of activities by enrolling in side projects

Chapter 6: TEAM – creatively confident groups

Besides building an individual creative confidence, innovation in an organisation requires collective change.

5 guidelines to build an innovation culture:

  1. Keep your sense of humour
  2. Build on the energy of others
  3. Minimise hierarchy
  4. Value team camaraderie and trust
  5. Defer judgment

Chapter 7: MOVE – creative confidence to go

This chapter is full of exercises¬†to help you unlock the¬†creativity inside if you. I will summarise only a few, to get a taste of it ūüėČ

Push yourself to think divergently

Tool: mind maps
Time: 15 min
Materials: pen & paper

Instructions:

  • Put one big challenge in the center of the page and look at it as an opportunity for innovation.
  • Add related items and if one seems to need a mind map of its own, then put a rectangle around it to emphasise it.
  • Use each connection to spare new ideas.
  • Keep going: you are done when the page fills with ideas. If that happens and you still have more to write, then reframe the challenge to give it another perspective and start over.
  • Choose the ideas worth implementing.

Tips:

  • The first set of ideas will always feel clich√©s,¬†then your mind will open up with interesting associations.
  • Mind maps help to generate ideas, hence should be used early in the creative process when you want to create something new. You can then use lists to select the best solutions.
Increase your creative output

Tool: 15 sec of brilliance
Time: 10 min/day
Materials: paper & pen or digital means to take notes

Instructions:

  • Capture your ideas right away.
  • Use the technology that fits your life style (for example, I am using Evernote!).
Jump start in ideation session

Tool: 30 circles
Time: 3 min
Materials: pen & paper with 30 identical circles

Instructions:

  • Turn as many blank circles as possible into recognisable shapes.
  • Check out the quantity and the diversity of the ideas.

A very fun way to spend 3 minutes of your time!

Learn from observing people behaviour

Tool: empathy maps
Time: 30-90 min
Materials: whiteboard, flipchart, post-notes

Instructions

  • Draw a 4 quadrant map with the following sections: say, do, think, feel.
  • Populate the quadrants with post-its by using one post-it per idea: do in the lower left quadrant,¬†say in the upper left quadrant,¬†feel¬†in the lower left quadrant and think¬†in the upper left quadrant.¬†Colour code your observations by using green post-its for positive things, yellow post-its for neutral things and pink or red post-its for frustrations/pain-points.
  • Look at the map as a whole and draw insight with conclusions.

Chapter 8: NEXT – embrace creative confidence

The best way to gain creativity confidence is through action. Practice leads to small successes which lead to creativity confidence. Focus on a project for half an hour each day before/after work. Network with like-minded people interested in design thinking. Explore open innovation platforms and communities. Take action!

Hope you enjoyed the reading and if you are not yet convinced that creativity is not something you are born with but an ability to be developed over time through practice then pick up the book “Creative confidence” by¬†David & Tom Kelley, you will surely change your mind!

Visual Design in Action by Ladislav Sutnar

Graphic Design, Resources

Ladislav Sutnar, born in 1897 in Czechoslovakia, is called by some the father of information design, which is a discipline of graphic design.

Following his country occupation by the Nazi in 1939, he emigrated in New York where his contribution to American graphic design brought him an AIGA medal in 1995, almost 20 years after his death.

He was the one adding the parentheses around the American telephone area code numbers when they were first introduced by Bell Telephone Co. and as such, most of his work focused on communicating information by making it clear and accessible to the users.

Without efficient typography, the jet plane pilot cannot read his instrument panel fast enough to survive.

With the same objective…

A designer’s aim is always to intensify comprehension.

While he was the art director¬†of F.W. Dodge’s Sweet’s Catalog Service, he wrote¬†two books together with Knud L√∂nberg-Holmin on the information flow in industrial catalogs: “Catalog design” (1944) and “Catalog design progress” (1950).

He is though best known for the book “Visual design in action” published in 1961 and considered an iconic book of the mid-century, really informative and still relevant today. It reveals Sutnar’s directions on how to use colours, typography,¬†scale and repetition based on¬†his approach to graphic design:

resolution of the polarities of function versus form, utility versus beauty, and rational versus irrational

And now it can be yours ūüėČ as¬†Designers & Books started a campaign on Kickstarter¬†for reprinting this wonderful book, which¬†has been successfully funded a week after the launch. Therefore, if you make your pledge of $62 by June 4th, a facsimile edition will arrive at your door this¬†October, yay!

How do you feel about this project? Excited about¬†the opportunity of having your very own “Visual design in action” by Ladislav Sutnar on your bookshelf?

Free Skillshare class the week of April 20

Resources

Become a better blogger: Content planning

An easy to follow class with specific actions to help you create a 3-month editorial calendar by carefully writing your blog statement, searching for inspiration and creating the calendar template.

An Online Skillshare Class by Andrea Goulet Ford

You will learn how to identify your audience, define your writing style and set goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, appropriate, realistic and time-bound). All these compiled will take the form of your brand statement which is actually the base for planning your content.

The next step is sourcing your inspiration and you will do this by defining your content pillars and digging into a variety of source libraries. Lastly, you will be handed out a template for the editorial calendar to complete with elements like:

  • date
  • category
  • topic/title
  • content details
  • keywords
  • status
  • publication channel

There are 10 videos summing up to a bit under 1 hour and each has an action item to walk you through the process, so do your homework and see you in the project gallery!

Free Skillshare class the week of April 13

Resources

Productivity for Creatives: Turning Ideas into Action

A 72-minute online class with insights on making ideas happen by identifying your drive and putting in place daily habits. I bet you’ll find some good advices in here to avoid procrastination if you have decided to start learning something new or to work on creative projects.

An Online Skillshare Class by Tanner Christensen
function-complex-victor-papanek

Design for the real world by Victor Papanek

Resources

Even if written in¬†1971, “Design for the real world” by Victor Papanek is still¬†relevant today and probably will always be since it’s advocating responsible design in a world where the resources are getting poorer. He strongly believes¬†that design must¬†be used to shape the society¬†in a positive way¬†by improving the life quality¬†of the ones in need.

Design is the conscious effort to impose meaningful order.

Anything that does not add functional value is considered by Victor Papanek as a perversion of design.¬†In a more elaborated definition of¬†Louis Sullivan’s simple principle that “Form follows function”, he enunciates six parts of the function complex.

function-complex-victor-papanek

  1. METHOD: the interaction of tools, materials and processes which need to be used optimally by appealing to creativity
  2. USE: answering to the question “does it work?”
  3. NEED: genuine need (economic, psychological, spiritual, technological, intellectual) vs. instilled one by fad and fashion
  4. TELESIS: the design must reflect the times and conditions that have given rise to it and must fit in with the human socio-economic context
  5. ASSOCIATION: our psychological condition determined by environment, education and culture comes into play towards or against a certain value
  6. AESTHETICS: a tool that helps to transform shapes and colours into elements that move and please us

I do encourage you to read this book and share your opinion in the comments.

roundicons_animals

Icon collections available online

Graphic Design, Resources

There are great collections of icons over the internet, free or premium, for web or printing purposes. I am sharing here my favourites, as a place to go to for inspiration in your designs or for download to use in your personal or commercial projects. Either way, I believe¬†you are going to find them useful and there are pretty good chances to get in love with some of them as well¬†ūüėČ

The Noun Project

A very cool website looking to build a visual language of icons anybody can understand. They come in two styles, line & solid, and they can be created by anyone with the condition to follow certain guidelines in order to be approved for publication.

One of the founders, Edward Boatman, has also taught a free class on Skillshare which I find perfect¬†if you are a very beginner in iconography and/or Adobe Illustrator. The project assignment is to create a set of¬†symbols that tells the story of your day. Once completed, you are encouraged to upload them on the website which is exactly what I did ūüėÄ and I am looking forward to expanding¬†my collection!

Round Icons

I am completely hooked up by their flat round icons. They are sooo colourful and the animal collection, I just love it! The bee, the zebra, the elephant, the cow, the pig, the sheep, the owl (and I could go on and on ūüėĮ ), just¬†ADORABLE! (ain’t so?!)

roundicons

They also have an amazing collection of yoga poses. And a very nice one of space icons! Or if you need an icon with Burj Al Arab or the London Eye, you can get that as well!

Bottom line, there is no way to leave the website without finding some pixel goodness, as on their count, you are able to dig into no less than 74.520 of them!

Icon Finder

This is probably¬†the largest collection online with more than 450.000¬†icons. Search for anything and there are pretty good chances that you may find it ūüėÄ except for “anything”, tried this one ūüėÜ Also a wide range of styles¬†including pixel, 3D and photorealistic.

iconfinder

Flat Icon

Only flat icons, mostly¬†useful in web design.¬†What sets them apart is that they have a generator incorporated¬†that helps you convert icons¬†into font icons so it’s worth checking it for your next project!

flaticon

Icons Mind

Targeting mobile applications, you can find here vector icons with two different styles: line icons for the new iOS and solid icons for Android.

iconsmind

Hope this is some valuable information to you, please share if you are using any other awesome icon packs!

picture_this_points_and_curves_shapes

Picture This by Molly Bang

Graphic Design, Resources

Molly Bang shows us in a wonderful visual book how emotions can be very well represented only by abstract shapes with a series of principles in mind.

The key of how emotions are brought on the canvas stays in the associations of colours, shapes and placement of the elements forming a picture with our own experiences from the day to day life. Therefore, this kind of associations determines our emotional response to a picture.

I have gathered all the principles and represented them by shapes as showed in the book not to get away from the point made by Molly Bang. All these principles work together, they impact one another and are also linked to the context and content.

Gravity
  1. Horizontal shapes give us a sense of stability, even more if they are wide & flat (grounded)
  2. Vertical shapes are more exciting and inspire energy (skyscrapers)
  3. Diagonal shapes are very dynamic and signal motion by expressing objects moving from one state to another and tension due to balance challenge
  4. An object placed on the upper half of the picture looks like it’s floating which makes you think of¬†happiness, spirituality, freedom.
  5. An object placed on the bottom half of the picture looks heavier and more constrained

picture this gravity

Frame

  1. If you put an object in the center of the page, then it will be the greatest point of attraction. To be avoided when the picture is meant to be explored.
  2. When there is no object on the centre of the page and even more, when there are objects crossing over the page, then the picture takes a more dynamic form.

picture this frame

Light and Dark

White/ light backgrounds feel safer than black/ dark backgrounds. White signifies brightness & hope and is used to represent the day while black signifies the unknown & fears and is ideal for showcasing night moments or twilight or bad weather like a storm.

picture this light and dark

Points and curves

Pointy shapes look threatening to us while curved shapes look like they embrace and protect us giving a sense of security.

picture this points and curves

Size

The larger an object in the picture, the strongest it feels.

picture this size

Colour associations

We associate the same or similar colours seen within a picture frame much strongly than we associate shapes.

picture this colour

Repetition & confusion

We prefer repetition over confusion as the first gives us a sense of stability while the latter is frightening for most of us. In the same time, too much repetition is monotonous so either extreme is not preferable.

picture this repetition and confusion

Contrasts

We notice a contrast. This can be between shapes, sizes, colours, placement or any combination of these elements.

picture this contrast

Space

  1. If an object is separated by an empty space from a group of objects, it will look alone, free or vulnerable.
  2. The shapes may imply movement but also may the space between them.
  3. Overlapping two or more objects will blend them together.
  4. A sense of depth can be created by keeping a regular geometric progression rather than an arithmetic one in the space between the objects i.e. if space is 1/2 smaller than the preceding one rather than a fixed amount.
  5. Space implies time, therefore in a situation of¬†danger it will be more tension between two objects farther away than closer¬†as you have the time to become aware of what is about to happen. It’s true that very little space can create the feeling of tension as well.

picture this space

The book also has, in the end, some exercises that invite you to play around with shapes and colours and apply these principles in order to tell a story and communicate a feeling or mood. For example, situations that represent danger like a group of birds attacking a victim or a person trapped in a cage or illustrations of emotions expressed in a poem, painting or song.

I love it that there are so many ways of exploration and the recommended limitation to 3 colours plus white and the usage of sole circles, rectangles and triangles, only make it more interesting.

I gave it a try and exposed myself in the playground area, so you can check mine¬†here. And I am super curious to see yours so please do not hold back from sharing your experiments! ūüôā

learning_platforms_1

Online classes and tutorials for creatives

Resources

Here you can find my favourite platforms for learning! Some are free, others charge a membership fee. There are also mobile and/or tablet apps developed for most of them if you’d like to¬†take your learning dose on-the-go.

learning_platforms_1

CreativeLive

This tends to be my favourite due to the format, you can watch classes live and interact with the speaker on chat with the help of the CreativeLive staff. There are five categories: art & design, photo & video, music & audio, craft & maker, money & life. The sessions can be watched for free while on air or bought afterwards to watch at your convenience. There is also a very nice calendar that gets updated with the classes available during a month for each of the categories. This allows you to schedule ahead and register to all that is of interest to you.

Skillshare

Arguably the second best, be aware it is a strong competition! Skillshare is full of classes for creatives in a wide range of areas: from culinary arts to crafts, photography, design, fashion, film, writing, music and even entrepreneurship. The class is a series of videos that sum up usually to around 1 to 2 hours but can go to several hours as well. What is really engaging on Skillshare is their approach of learning by doing as each class ends with a project that should make use of the acquired skills and techniques.

They are also preaching that everyone can teach so if you feel up to, you can give it a try and share your skills with the world. You don’t need to have any kind of teaching experience, only a big passion for the chosen topic.

Coursera

Not focused on Arts & Design but there is a section you can check out and you’ll come across some very well documented courses. The instructors¬†are from universities around the world and¬†the courses are a long-term engagement spreading on a few months usually. Each week you have a series of short videos to watch and an assignment to complete. They use a peer assessment model, therefore you’ll be graded by your colleagues around the world. End of the course, there is also an exam to take and you have the option¬†to earn verified¬†certificates if this is one of the things you’re looking after.

learning_platforms_2

EDX

Less coverage on the creative domains, most of the courses are in areas like math, computer science and physics but art and design are also amongst the subjects. Like Coursera, they have nice partnerships with top universities around the globe, Harvard is one of them!

Iversity

Same as the last two, this is worth mentioning especially because of the powerful institutions where the teachers come from. And there is a wide range of courses you can take in several languages: English, German, Spanish and Russian.

Gibbon

Based on your topic of choice, you can subscribe to playlists that point to resources over the web, be it an article, documentary or book.

learning_platforms_3

Hack Design

This is a 1-year commitment to learning design. If you sign in, you’ll get one email a week with the most relevant¬†blogs, books, videos and tutorials organised in topics like graphic design principles, typography, UI / UX, product design and a few¬†more. The¬†lessons are curated¬†by¬†designers specialised in these domains to make the best of the experience!

Lynda

The first¬†place to go to for the best tutorials if you’re up¬†to learn the Adobe suite, on different skill levels, from the very beginner to advanced.

Tuts+

As an alternative to Lynda, with a huge library of free articles embedding videos to help you learn.

Most of what I know now in the graphic¬†design¬†field I owe to these incredible, wonderful, don’t know what I would do without them, learning platforms. Hope you’ll find a few minutes to check them out as I’m sure everyone can find something valuable in here! And please share if you also have some great go-to learning sources, as I’m sure you all do! ūüôā