Discovering my Creative Process

...light once gave objects of the world their shape.
from Paul Virilio, The Administration of Fear

After a 30-year marketing career spent hiring, managing and directing creative professionals I, in my 2nd semester MA Fashion program, get the chance to stand in their shoes. I learned that the creative process can be very different when no client is present. In this experience, my creativity came from within me. There were no clients or external influencers setting expectations for the outcome(s) of my creative work.

In this Studio Workshop class, we were taken through three stages of creative experience.

Who's on First?

The first creative exercise was "mark and respond" with a partner, one sheet of paper, one thick marker and one thin marker. I started and nervously drew a bold curved line on the page. Beginning where I ended, my partner responded with a thin squiggly line. We continued until our marks became calls to action and responses. I drew a pair of thick lines, she added a boot to one end. I drew a line with multiple S-shapes, she turned it into a snake. We were now in dialogue and my partner's responses boosted my confidence. Our practice evolved from simply marking and responding, to calling and responding, to creating. It was organic. It was an evolution. It was the maturing of a relationship through creative exploration.

Mark and Respond

I Got Rhythm!

The second exercise was individual work with text. Working with the quote shown at the top of this post, the task was to communicate the rhythm and cadence of the text visually. It took six iterations to get to a layout and overall design that gave meaning to the text. In the first iteration, I knew the word 'objects' would show heavily as my personal belief is objects lay a heavy burden on our planet. Being unfamiliar with the quote, I was unsure as to the weight and significance of the other words. This material exploration influenced my response to the text as I came to know the words better and how they relate. This short audio-visual journey illustrates the impact this material exploration had on my relationship to the text.

Can you hear my comfort with the text evolve?

Text as Object

The last visual iteration of the rhythm and cadence of this quote spoke to me and it said,

Text becomes Object

"I am an object."

The origami folds were inspired by this message and the quote itself became a three-dimensional object.

As I made decisions through each iteration. I wondered how the process and outcome would have changed if I had a client telling me what was important to them. In this moment I think I began to understand the difference between art and design.

What do you mean?

The last exploration added the responsibility of considering layout and aesthetics to communicate the meaning of the text. I chose a quote that, for 10 years, has been the driving force behind my work as a brand strategist.
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.
Oscar Wilde

Since our instructions were to create by adding, I took creative license and removed the word 'already' from the quote. As a linear thinker, I laid down my brightly coloured background first. The word "BE" took prominence on the page. Paired with 'yourself,' on the same colour background, this coupling became a strong call to action to live authentically and firmly with one's own beliefs.

Then, laid on its own background colour, 'everyone else is' became the pathway to the real message. 

I wanted the real message 'taken' to appear on the bright pink backdrop because of the significance 'taken' has for me. To be true to oneself comes from being yourself because being someone else is not possible. Everyone else is truly taken. Engaging visually with the text was about conveying this message.

To remain loyal to the process of creating by adding, I digitized the artwork then added the word 'taken.' Reversing negative space out of the bright pink field gave the word more prominence versus appearing on top of the background colour, as was done with the black letters above. Additionally, the digital format expanded my ability to affect typeface, font size and placement.

Final Composition

Connections and Conclusions

For me, the connections between the various stages of creative exploration can be summarized in three words: confidence, dialogue, and expression.

CONFIDENCE building, with a partner, like having training wheels. (Mark and Respond)

DIALOGUE with one's own creative mind's eye honed my ability to visualize textual expression. (Rhythm and Cadence)

EXPRESSION, the ability to communicate one's beliefs and values visually through text. (Material Exploration and Visual Representation)

Aziz, in her article, referenced below, says "the experience of making ... set me on a trajectory towards exploring the interplay between sound and image" (74). I felt like I had the same experience. The experience of making through exploring the text visually deepened my understanding of the text and how it can be communicated through sounds and the images I was creating. An early exploration of this curiosity is demonstrated in the audio-visual clip above.

Aziz, T. (2009), ‘Shifting the frame: from critical reflective arts practice to practice-based research’,
     Journal of Media Practice 10: 1, pp. 69–80, doi: 10.1386/jmpr.10.1.69/1