Sketch Book Swoon

While I have always used sketch books as a way to chronicle my collages and work through compositions, I’ve recently fallen in love with the idea of the sketch book as a concept book.

One of the (many!) things I have learned being back in school is the importance of the concept book to the creator and designer. On the first day of one of my classes, the instructor mentioned how we should all be using concept books to sketch our ideas and document our creative process.

At first I was skeptical, but then I discovered a new passion for this type of creative process. It allows me to see my ideas and then execute them – a much easier way to create then straight from my head!

Since then, I have used my sketch book to design a poster, a visual story book, a single frame story and mini-book.

  • Start your own sketch book today!

Ingenuityfest: A Study in Contrasts

After almost 5 years of trying, I finally made it to the Ingenuity Festival, a three-day long extravaganza of technology and art held each year here in Cleveland.

I say, “trying,” because I really have had good intentions of going to the fest the last several years.  Arriving back in Cleveland, shortly before the second year of Ingenuity, I signed up to be a volunteer, thinking it would be a cool and easy way to get a free ticket. Of course, I never actually ended up volunteering and for the next several years life seemed to get in the way during the annual weekend of Ingenuity.

This year seemed to be no different, with a planned trip to Pittsburgh falling on the same weekend as Ingenuity. When one of my instructors mentioned that we could receive 5 extra credit points for going and writing about what we saw, I knew that was the motivation I needed!

I arrived early on Sunday, the third and final day, and was instantly greeted with the contrast of the location: a bridge. Yes, that’s right, a bridge. Actually, the fesitval is located on the obsolete trolley level of the bridge, while cars sped along the upper span. The bridge connects the east and west sides of the city above the Cuyahoga River. Yet, more contrast.

Entering into the cavernous space created such a different experience than if the event had been held in an open lot or even in an enclosed area. I started walking toward the span of the bridge, where there were a hodge podge of displays, everything from local political endorsements to non-profits to the odd assortment of vendors selling taffy, jewelry, etc. Interspersed among this were small exhibitions and random musical performers.

Passing by the man-made waterfall, I approached the east side of the bridge and headed  toward the blaring sounds of a youthful rock band. Bypassing that in favor of the Art Gallery area, I began to be slightly impressed with the installation art pieces that thoroughly used the bridge’s architecture as inspiration.

Walking back to the other side of the bridge, I contemplated how much better the curation of the art could have been. Several mixed media pieces were interesting but didn’t really fit into the scope of the festival and/ or use the space that well.

On the west side of the bridge, in another cavernous space, more art installations filled the area. Some were fascinating and others just trite and almost art-schoolish. The entire puppet show concept was overdone on the East Coast 10 years ago. Finally, the soothing sounds of Angelin Chang, a local professor and Grammy-award winning musician made the my time there worth it.

In my opinion, if the Ingenuity festival could bring in more quality artists like her, then then maybe it would have been a worthwhile experience for me. As it is it appears, it is currently a very amateurish Spoletto Festival. With better curation and more “real” artists, Ingenuityfest could really be a noteworthy arts festival. Sadly, now the best thing it has going is the space and the location.

  • Did you go? What did you think?

Cleveland is Creative

Although, I have known this for awhile, the rest of the world is just catching up and realizing that Cleveland is creative. Featured as one of Fast Company’s most creative cities, Cleveland joins other national cities like San Francisco and New York and international cities Taipei and Vancouver.

While the article focuses on the creative reuse of land in the city, there are so many other things here that make Cleveland creative and just a cool place to live.

  • Check out Cleveland.

Image Courtesy of Fast Company

Design Principles for Self Improvement (Part II)

While I was thinking about this post last night, I was also watching one of my favorite shows, The Big Idea on CNBC. One of the guests was Ty Pennington that hyper yet creative carpenter on those home improvement shows. He talked about how the principles of home design can be used to create our dream life. For instance, he talked about choosing colors and objects for our homes that reflect our personality.

Karim Rashid, a designer and author has a similar philosophy in his book design your self: rethinking the way you live, work, and play. Rashid is best known for his innovative home product, furniture and interior design. Early on, he writes that humans are here to create and that living in such a mass produced world entitles us all to use design, not only to create our environments but also our lives.

Covering topics ranging from life, love, work, and play, this colorful book also includes a section at the end with a yearly guide to getting the most from your life. Despite loving this book and it’s advocacy for leading a creative and individualized life, I found it odd that it was also filled with prescriptive lists and Rashid’s own strict guidelines of how that life should be lived. Still, it’s a must read book to learn how this contemporary creative genius lives and works.

  • How are you using design principles in your daily life?

My New Art Blog

When I started this blog over a year ago, one of my intentions, in addition to exploring all aspects of creativity, was to explore my own personal expression.

As someone who had worked in creative environments, mostly museums for many years, I had never really paid attention to my own art during that time. Leaving that part of my life behind allowed me more time to focus on my own work. I’ve posted some of my collages here but have now decided to dedicate an entire blog to my creative work and process.

DofC Designs will focus on collage*art*jewelry and document this new journey I have begun. Although, I’ll still be covering design and the visual arts here and may occasionally toss in an image or 2 of my work.

  • Look forward to seeing you there!

Changing the World Through Design

This is an impressive goal, but a creative non-profit is trying. Nest, based in St. Louis, was founded to support women artisans in developing countries. It does this by selling products, including clothing, accessories and home goods by an exclusive group of designers. The profits from these sales are used to create micro-loans offered to international artisans, who in turn sell their goods on the nest website. It’s a creative approach to supporting global communities.

Creative Thinking

A specific type of creative thinking involves using images. Since most of us are visual learners by nature, and frankly can’t escape not being so in our society, thinking in images is a natural progression to creativity.

  • That’s the point of this fun tutorial on creative thinking.

Susan Danko Artist

During a recent day trip up to the Lake Erie Islands, I stumbled upon a small gallery. At first writing off the shop as another touristy art trap, I was pleasantly proved wrong, when I discovered some small works by Ohio artist Susan Danko.

They were constructed like reverse shadow boxes with the painting on the back of the box providing a hollowed surface to hang the works easier. The dreamy landscapes were layered with vivid colors and lines, which reminded me of contemporary designs

Image  Bonfoey Gallery

Do You Love Design?

I would suspect that most people don’t even notice the many design elements that surround them on a daily basis. Training your eye to look at design is an easy way to enhance your creativity. Now, more than ever, we are exposed to more choices in our lives.

Think about it the next time you are out shopping. Try to figure out what draws you into specific stores and what makes you buy. It’s probably the design.

  • Check out design*sponge for more examples of contemporary design.