Friday Mar 14, 2008

Newton's First Law and Thing-a-Day... Getting the creative stone rolling

An object in motion will stay in motion and an object at rest will stay at rest, etc., said Newton. I agree! For me, this is particularly true when it comes to my creative/designing mind. When I'm in the habit of designing and otherwise creating regularly, ideas and energy just begin to flow out more easily. It is more fun to approach, and easier to succeed with design tasks. And when I'm not, well, things get much harder. Stuck, stagnant, uninspired... those become the default designing state. And things go slowly if they do go. Anybody know what I mean? :)

Anyway, last month, I had a wonderful experience that rolled the moss off of my proverbial creative stone :). On a tip from Soraya, I participated in something called Thing-a-Day -- a creative forum where artists and creators of all types signed up online, and agreed to create one "thing-a-day" each day for the month of February.

The medium could be anything -- from painting and drawing, to knitting, music, video, jewelry-making, cooking, robot-building, food sculpture -- whatever. The participants just had to agree to spend somewhere between 20 minutes and an hour each day creating one new thing, then posting it to the community blog, where all the artists/participants could see and comment on each others work daily. I didn't know what to expect when I signed up, but was just looking forward to the challenge of creating something new every day. I gave myself weekly themes, which put some structure around the daily creation, and got to work. The theme for my first week was "morning ritual". Each day that week I did an artwork touching on something I regularly do in the morning. Two of my favorite posts from that week are below:

Well, by 9am the morning after the first day of Thing-a-Day, I knew why I had signed up. 4 new emails were waiting in my inbox -- people responding to what I had posted! This was an unexpected blessing from participating. All of a sudden, I wasn't creating in a vacuum. I posted, and people responded. People posted, I responded. What fun! I spent a bunch of time that same morning making comments on other people's artwork, and enjoying the collective body of work that was growing. I realized how important feedback can be -- to motivate, to inform your design, just to get the energy up around a project.

Anyway, Thing-a-Day was a big success. By the end of February, almost 6,600 new works of art had been created by around 1,400 participants, and an exciting creative community was alive. I personally experienced a giant creative boost by participating, and by getting in the habit of doing creative work every day. The blah/stagnant design fog I had been feeling for months has lifted, and now I'm really really having fun when I sit down to design. And isn't that why we all decided to do this in the first place? I know it is for me -- I love design, and creation in general, and am thankful to be able to do what I do.

The experience has been a great reminder to me of the importance of staying creatively in motion, and also of having a sense of community around what we do. It's got me wondering how we might be able to create similar experiences with what we do here as designers at Sun? I don't know about you all, but sometimes I can feel like a little design island, out here alone. How nice if we can develop more ways to share -- feedback, energy, inspiration, and just an overall greater sense of community to help our work along.

This blog is certainly a great step in the direction! At any rate, I hope you enjoy all the fun work at Thing-a-Day, and find inspiration in it, too :)...

I'll sign off with two more of my favorite posts from the month (snow sculpture emerged as my favorite medium), and then encourage you to check out all the great work that over 1,400 artists posted on Thing-a-Day in February.

Janet Kowal is a visual designer in xDesign. She has a BS in Graphic Design & Illustration, and enjoys creation of all types. Janet works out of Sun's Menlo Park, CA campus.





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