Creative Structure

December, 03 2012
Posted in Inspiration
Posted by Rachel

It’s a pleasure to meet you, Noise 13 blog readers!  I’m Rachel — the newest addition to the Noise team and the in-house developer.

It’s been a great experience settling into work here in our awesome Potreroan office space, and it’s been a lot of fun working with the designers on the team.  I come from an engineering background, and although creatively inclined (or so I tell myself…), I’ve never worked for a creative business.  Everyone here smiles kindly when I say things like, “that really famous Japanese artist who does the polka dots” or “oh, is that a designer?”, which is pretty polite of them, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to work with such a talented team.

As a somewhat technical/logical person, I’m used to relying on structure — code, charts, standards, step-by-steps — so when I see creatives at work, I, like many others, tend assume that some unstructured and unfettered instinct is what leads to their product.  Of course, designers and many artists would refute that assumption.  Whether they’re strategizing and problem solving, remaining vigilant in how to stay creative, or refining their discipline of working to create, designers and artists rely quite a lot on structure.  I’ve recently been stumbling upon a number of examples of just how structured the design and artistic processes can be, so I thought I’d share!

Design is a Job

I recently read the book, Design is a Job by Mike Monteiro — an outspoken SF design director and founder at Mule Design.  It’s a great book for designers and non-designers alike to learn (at times bluntly and hilariously) what it means to be a designer and to run your own business.  It gives perspective by defining design as firstly, a problem-solver.  Designers create based on technical knowledge of design, but also create based on a number of different parameters, such as content, mood, medium, goals, and a number of other client needs.  Unlike other forms of art, design is a service-based job.  Designers design to serve their clients, which takes much strategizing, structuring, and creative problem solving.

Steal Like an Artist

I haven’t read this book yet, but I hope to get it for Christmas (*hint* Mom, Dad… if you’re reading).  Steal Like an Artist is by Austin Kleon and is based on a talk he did about 10 things he wishes he knew when he started out as an artist.  It’s both a visually and mentally stimulating manifesto for the artist in the digital age.

His list on how to be creative is:

1.  Steal like an artist.
2.  Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started.
3.  Write the book you want to read.
4.  Use your hands.
5.  Side projects and hobbies are important.
6.  The secret: do good work and share it with people.
7.  Geography is no longer our master.
8.  Be nice. (The world is a small town.)
9.  Be boring. (It’s the only way to get work done.)
10.  Creativity is subtraction.

He gives plenty of advice on how to hone in on your own voice as an artist and how to recognize that creativity is in everyone and everywhere.  And although I gave away the “10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative”, there’s plenty more advice and visual art to find in the book.  Art is a discipline, and Steal offers steps to create discipline as an artist.

Finally, my last example is from the writer, Henry Miller.  In his book, Henry Miller on Writing, he lists his commandments for writing.

Henry Miller Commandments

Again, with the discipline!  In Miller’s 5th commandment, he says, “When you can’t create you can work,“ although also emphasizes not to be a draught-horse.  His list refers to his creative process as being a routine — a little every day — and as an intentional balance of concentration and freedom.

At Noise 13, it’s obvious that there’s a lot of discipline and structure to how the team create, although our work routine might include the occasional Scotch drink for garnish.  I’m lucky to work with such a talented group, and I respect that the designers can balance both creativity and structure in such a successful way.  I’m excited to see what’s in the next year for Noise after 13 years of designing!

A lot of this post’s idea came from Brain Pickings, a website about culminating thoughts on creativity and curiosity.  Definitely one to check out!

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