I applied for a fellowship recently. It is Atlas Obscura’s ‘Fellowship of the Loneliest Road’. They are granting $5,000.00 for an artist to drive Rt 50 in Nevada. The road has the moniker as ‘the loneliest road in America’ because of its isolation, paucity of humans and lack of electronic connectivity. The idea is for the artist to creatively document the journey, finding unique and interesting expressions of that loneliness and separation from the fast blur of modern life.
I thought about this quote as I was writing the few essay type responses needed. My main work wasn’t in the writing, it was in the editing, getting the words to be essential to the message instead of filler to make the word count.
Less is More
The minimal art movement of the 20th century was all about this idea. Reduce each form of art to its essential. What is it at its essence, and just do that. Painting for example is color on a two-dimensional surface. It’s not about recreating a thing or a place. It’s not about an illusion of space. It is just color. So, the minimalists were painting flat, abstract images that forced the viewer to just see the paint and it’s properties, not anything else.
Brice Marden – The Seasons – 1975
Architecture was reduced to ‘form follows function’ which is what building something is in its essence. Just a structure to do something in, nothing more.
Andrea Oliva – Italian home
Sculpture is mass, surface, texture.
Tony Smith – untitled – 1960
Music is sound
Dance is movement
Lucinda Childs – ‘Dance’ – 1979
This is a great discussion about minimalism in art music and dance coming together. Worth checking out.
I have been designing a business card for someone recently. She is a creative person and so is her business. That means what seems like just a simple business card design is actually a detailed template for her entire business plan. In planning it out with her I asked a lot of questions, from who is her target audience to what colors she likes. That gave me a starting point but my creative juices didn’t start to flow until I was actually in Photoshop working on fonts, colors, and imagery. It was then that I saw progress. And that is because the act of working is like the act of getting your heart rate up. You don’t get your heart beat up BEFORE you exercise. It’s the exercise that makes your heart rate go up!
This idea is not exclusive to creative work. Another very similar quote brings out how it applies to almost any life situation. “It is easier to act your way to another way of feeling than it is to feel your way to another way of acting.”
Here is the final business card design, by the way.
“You don’t think your way to creative work, you work your way to creative thinking.” – anonymous
Have you ever tried to explain yourself but have done it so badly you dug yourself into a big hole trying to do so? The initial explanation usually isn’t that bad. A few wrong words, a few things left out and voila, the wrong message is sent. The message isn’t that far off but it’s missed the mark enough so that you have to go back and explain again.
From Ditch to Hole
Design is like that. Create the wrong initial impression of your company or idea and you are in a ditch. Compound that with more bad design choices and you’re not just in a ditch, you are in a deep hole. Getting out of that hole means building a ladder to get yourself out. Work that could have gone towards building staircase up a mountain instead.
From the Beginning
How does this happen? By not evaluating the initial design result. Was the first design element understood properly? You have to investigate that or else you might be digging a hole with further design elements. If you don’t get feedback at the beginning you are moving forward blindly. Maybe you will be lucky and the design was spot on, but just as likely your could be digging a deep hole with each subsequent design iteration.