Friday, April 8, 2011

Questions, Questions, Questions...

Questions that are forming the background to my thinking are...

- What is creativity?
- What is an idea?
- What is inspiration?
- What does it mean to be innovative?
- What does it mean to be innovative in the fashion industry?
- Who are the innovators, and in what way?
- How important is creativity to well-being and social progression?

If being creative is a necessity in the fashion industry, this leads to...

How do we make the most of our creative dispositions?

...I propose a study of methods, exercises and techniques (and the theories behind them). I would love to include primary sources - interviewing students and staff about their thoughts and experiences of being creative.

In terms of presentation...

I would love to deviate away from a typical essay/thesis format, and produce perhaps a small book that students can actually use as a reference. This could include a combination of written theory and exercises/techniques which students can undertake. Depending on what my research actually throws up, I want the presentation to help students engage in their design process and prompt their thoughts... perhaps even provide inspiration..

Working title...

Maybe something like: "The Fashion Designer's Brain: A User's Guide"?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Video: Edward de Bono on...

...a number of things, actually. All of them about thinking, creating, creativity and how to think originally.

Here is the video in question. Some notable points are:

at 0.37 - "...on creative thinking"

I find the distinction between talent and skill at making the most of your talent to be most intriguing. In fact, I am brought back to being interviewed for this degree, and being asked whether or not I considered raw talent to be more important than perseverance and hard work in the fashion industry.

To this day, I am not entirely sure what my answer was. From what I can remember, I said that to be operating in industry, there is surely talent somewhere. But only by truly pushing yourself, your business ideas and your processes can you be successful. (There was actually a lot more rambling going on, but I try not to dwell on it.)

However, I digress. The point is that this short little segment of video left me wondering as to how we as designers should best go about making the most of our talent. It is a reminder, too, that a creative mindset can't simply be just switched on. We have to work, and sometimes work hard, at being creative. If 'creative thinking is a skill', then how do we refine this skill to become better at generating creative and innovative ideas?

at 1.21 - "...on being different"

An interesting way of looking at the creativity: by considering its opposite. In this case, being truly 'creative' means generating ideas that 'have value'. Of course, 'value' is extremely subjective, and perspectives upon what has worth are driven by social, cultural and economic factors which change over time.

I suppose the root of this idea is that, if something only exists because it is different to what has gone before, then there is no true value or use and the process of thinking that lead to its existence was not creative. There was no innovation; no necessity. In regards to the fashion industry, I am now pondering upon how the 'non-creative' thinking contributes to unsustainable practices. If something has no value, it is much more disposable...

at 1.57 - "...on making mistakes"

I love this section to bits. So much so that I have to directly quote:

"... a big deficiency in language, certainly the English language, is we don't have a word which says fully justified venture, which for reasons beyond your control did not succeed. So anything that did not succeed is called a mistake, and people don't like mistakes..."
Well, I happen to love mistakes. Some of them, anyway. Throughout my training at RMIT, I have slowly learned to embrace the 'happy accident' - where the outcome of a trial was not expected, but lead to interesting results that were further explored. I believe this says a lot about how the ability to reflect upon and consider something other than the expected is integral to a successful, creative design process.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Getting Creative

This article by Sarah Wilson (Sunday Age columnist) is about the importance of creativity/creating, and it highlights some interesting points. For example, how the act of physically creating something can almost be meditative... a time for thinking things though.

'Painting, singing, gardening, playing the glockenspiel, finger-knitting: it’s pleasurable. But more than that it exposes ourself to ourself. When we’re creative we naturally narrow our focus and distractions are shut out. Time disappears; we’re in flow. And from here stuff is able to bubble up, stuff that really is the self expressing itself. And so, as we swirl the paint around, mindlessly, we appear on the page. Carl Jung once built is own house and described his creation as “the representation in stone of my innermost thoughts”.'

I've certainly experienced this, particularly when sewing by hand, beading or embroidering. They're acts that, once learned, don't require huge amounts of attention. I find that my mind wanders extensively when undertaking these activities, but there is somehow still direction to my thoughts... almost as though the act of physically making grounds me somewhat.

At this point, too, it is interesting to make the distinction between creating something (perhaps making might be a better term) and being creative... to my mind, this is much like the distinction between craft and art. Most people are capable of creating something, whether this be a knitted scarf or a roast dinner. However, most do so by following a knitting pattern or by following a recipe. Creativity might come in by changing stitches or using different spices. As such, it might be said that there are differing degrees of creativity, for more creative acts would be to make your own pattern, or devise your own recipe.

Anyway, gone off on a bit of a tangent here. But it was nice to see that creativity is viewed (by some at least) as a highly valued attribute.

So what exactly do I mean by...



- noun

1. the state or quality of being creative

2. the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, forms, relationships or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination: the need for creativity in modern industry; creativity in the performing arts.

3. the process by which one utilises creative ability: extensive reading stimulated his creativity.

- adjective

1. having the ability to create

2. characterised by originality of thought; having or showing imagination: a creative mind

3. designed to or tending to stimulate the imagination: creative toys

characterised by sophisticated bending of the rules or conventions: creative accounting

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

How to be creative

Came across this really interesting article about how having routine can actually improve your ability to create and think creatively.

The most fascinating part for me was the comparison of routine to hypnosis: "By repeating the same routine every day, all these creators are effectively hypnotizing themselves, deliberately altering their state of consciousness in order to access the 'deeper state of mind' that allows them to work their creative magic. The different elements of the routine become associated with this creative state of mind, so that they can re-enter it by simply repeating the steps of the routine."

The article also referenced the Daily Routines blog, which is filled with entries about the habits of artists, designers, scientists, etc, and how these might contribute to the creative process. The blog is currently on hold, but there is apparently a Daily Routines book out sometime this year. I'll be keeping my eyes peeled!

All of this got me thinking about whether or not I actually have any routines in place to help me be creative/productive... I probably do, but am not aware of them. More likely I have bad habits - working in places (like at the desk by my window), where I am seemingly compelled to be unproductive. From what this article is saying, I've hypnotised myself somewhat... whenever I sit here, force of habit compels me to not do work.

That said, there are places where I do seem to have sudden flashes of inspiration... like in the shower. I wonder if this happens to anyone else? This is something that I have personally attributed to the fact that I'm relaxed... once I've let go of the day a little bit and my mind isn't actually consciously thinking though the things I want to achieve, a lot of stuff often becomes a lot clearer.

Given all of this, I would love to be able to do a little survey of the fashion cohort at RMIT... lecturers and students. Just to find out if people do have habits to get themselves in the creative zone, or if they experience sudden flashes of inspiration (and if so, where and when these occur). Such feedback could hopefully really assist in refining some further areas for research. Although I am spurred on by the BIG(ger) question of 'What is creativity?', I am narrowing it down to a study of how people in creative fields can assist themselves to be more creative. This might cover a range of techniques, be a compilation of interviews (text or film format), or even a study of the interplay between raw talent and habit...

Phew. Was good to get some of those thoughts out. But will stop for the time being, as I don't want this post to be a big wall of text. I think I have stumbled upon a good creative habit for myself, though... writing. My head is currently churning with ideas...