Revising the creative process

The first step to resolving a conceptual ( combining one or more things together, in order to make something new ) problem with relevancy begins with understanding that conceptual thinking is not opportunistic. It is episodic.

There is no top-down; left or right convention. We deal with an existing set of realities and by doing so, we’re dealing with concepts that have already been resolved by other expressions of creativity—considered perfect in most regards, solely because of prevalence. They are correct and work because they’ve been experienced and utilized, establishing form & function creating a unique, and relative perception or utility for other people.

To suggest there is a formula or process, suggests everything else in the world is innately wrong. The information we’ve received through observation, statistics, and opinions must be considered factual in order to conceptualize something with relevancy. If not, principally speaking, this will end the conceptual process before it begins and eliminate relevancy.

The creative process does not see the tree before the forest. It will see the forest and systematically work back in relation to the whole on a broader experiential plain. To scrutinize the height of the tree and it’s foliage is destructive and impulsive. As it is, the forest should be considered perfect. It has no immediate relative meaning to us, therefore there are no problems or logistical mistakes. And if you assume this is a top-down process then I urge the objective eye to look closer. Once you’ve broken the tree down, you’ll begin to see the leaves, then the veins, then the texture of the leaves and so on until you are so completely removed from the first and most obvious plain ( common relevance ), it would be near impossible to conceptualize a relatable experience to those of us still waiting by the tree line. The objective/solution is too far away, and unrelated to the common surveyors. The common surveyor is now lost in the forest and the only thing they care about is; getting out.

Once interested in the forest, the prospect may focus in on a path. Offering an experience related to a new a concept is equivocal to offering choice. Choice denotes value for the surveyor thereafter. Math whizes refer to this as infinite regression. If your idea or concept isn’t based on existing constructs, you’re likely to loose your surveyors’ attention or interest.

Again, to suggest there is a formula is to suggest everything else is wrong. We know that mother nature is not wrong. A problem may exist relative to us, but that is not something we should consider wrong; that it is not an observable truth or fact. A concept that is built on an existing set of concepts must be treated as fact. And we must assume that initial parameters of these facts are not going to change. They are perfect truths. And in agreeing to this, we must realize that if the parameters do change within the facts, the concept must be reevaluated entirely. A truth or fact is personal context, and if context fails, there is no perceivable relevancy. Information cannot be introduced into the concept without expecting the relevancy of the concept to change as well.

Information arranged and organized through symbols, colors, pictures and words creates content. Content presented in relationship either paralleling, or contrast existing content creates context. Context creates relevancy.

Removing the term creativity from this explanation and subsequently replacing it with solution, we might explain this process as; an existing system with a series of subsystems, that; based on their individual relationships, continue to create an additional set of subsystems with each reaction thereafter.

Does constraint positively influence creativity?

It’s a myth. Or, perhaps, a misnomer at worse. Creativity through conceptual conflict is more appropriate. Does X fit with A, if not, how can I make it fit—*


With this said, the only constraint or conflict that exists unilaterally for everyone is; people who approve or disapprove of the creative expression. Individuals’ who posit that they’re experts in knowing what creativity is and how it applies to the problem—ugh. You know the types. They see something new, but can’t process its relative association. So they find deprecated statistics, conflate correlation from the old thing with the new thing, and then systematically attenuate the new to be more like the old (they’re being creative, too!). Some do it deliberately—other’s, a result of their education and personal experience.


We all demonstrate creative thinking, daily, hourly, minute-by-minute. The commercial and industrial world loves to tout this as a selling point to garner new business from prospects. In a sense, we’ve allowed pundits and self-appointed arbiters to propagate their narrowed field of perception amongst us all.


Creativity is the combining of two or more elements in order to synthesize something new.


We do not judge this new thing, whether it’s a good or bad expression of creativity, but we accept that this expression has resulted in a familiar likeness with this new thing. By accepting it, the technically capable begin accentuating the expression into something emotionally and mentally approachable.


With this said; many people and companies presume that there is a process; something repeatable; learnable on a mass scale—predicated on the industrial model, to consistently produce and express creativity with identical success each time.


Unfortunately “creative process**” is an oxymoron. Creativity is idiosyncratic, rarely pragmatic, and often a result of informed ignorance (another oxymoron). Technique is making a perfect mistake—an unintended discovery, while having honed the technical skills to refine and shape the mistake (or discovery) into something familiar. Technique is what defines the expression of creativity into something useful; acceptable; beautiful, ugly, useless, abstract—


We should also be clear and isolate creativity from art, or art-forms. You do not need to be an artist to express creativity. But artists (in all fields/art-forms) are generally more receptive to receiving external input and thinking, translating it through an art-form, yielding a form of creative expression (writing, music, design, art, sculpting, architecture, fashion, industrial design). Show me anything in the modern world that wasn’t created by someone (nature excluded)—regardless of their job title or function, artistic ability or skill. The world around us has been shaped and refined through creative-human-expression, for better or worse.


Implying constraints or limitations provoke creative thinking is a self-induced allusion and another creative attempt at expressing—expression. It generally depends on the individual and their ability to receive; interpret; translate; and express their creativity within the external world.


How badly do you want to express something, and how hard are you willing to work for others to understand it?


Many people incubate, many rapidly iterate, many work methodically—linearly. But under no circumstances does everyone work in the same exact way. That would be the antithesis of creativity. And limit the diversity of thought and expressions of culture and humanity as a whole. We’d all be a bunch of self-replicating, unaware bots.


Many people can and do work in teams, but rarely do you ever see one head, and many wrists. If you do, it’s because many of the concepts and creative forms have already been decided or expressed in such a way that other’s are simply copying a defined technique, not engaging in a creative process.


*This implies that creativity is a result of a specific problem or task, but creativity is not dependent on the need to purposefully solve or complete a task

**I forget where, or from who this term originated—

Originality is done

I hear this a lot, expressed in many different ways; It’s been done before, I’ve seen this but a little different, This reminds me of that one thing, So and so is already doing something similar.

This is a lonely sandbox to play in, isn’t it? I think this is oxymoronic. Ideas beget ideas. Perhaps the real point of interest is, we’re exposed to more ideas and communication than ever before in history. Not that lots of ideas and notions haven’t been thought of in previous years.

Today we have direct access to a lot of content. And while ideas borrow from ideas, there will always be originality. So it may appear that everything has been done before (the lonely sandbox), but questioning the propensity of originality is analogous to suggesting that a wade of clay will always end up the same shaped ceramic.

Turn off all the content long enough to think about what it is you’re thinking about. Spend time on iterative design, thinking and exploration. It’s okay to be a little like something else, too. Technique is making a perfect mistake. It has nothing to do with talent.

U and I

User Interface: Communicate, Direct, Alert
User Experience: Express, Emote, Experience

These two terms mean more than their current contextual usages imply. These words relate to everything we see, experience, buy, drive–things we use. We’re always excited and inspired by the new, but find it callous, cold, unusable without a familiarity from the old.

The icon on an iPhone has a traditional phone receiver as an indicator to make a call from a device that looks nothing like its predecessor. However, it does do the same thing a standard landline phone does. Their basic purpose and function remain the same. Their ergonomic functions are identical, too. They look nothing alike. Intentional or not, we’ve slowly accepted progressions like this throughout our lives. In more areas of our life aside from a phone.

There are several layers to user interface design and user experience. There will always be a compromise in designing for the few versus the many. Especially considering the rate of adaption and learning required for adaptive or just generally new things.

A year or two ago, I posted a definition for Skeuomorph. Over the years, through graphic design, writing, user interface design, art–anything that requires an expression of thought to relate to a narrowed perspective, I’ve learned that there are no rules. Only familiarity with what people know to be a norm and what people are willing to accept as a new form of graphic design, writing, user interface design, art. In my industry, clients often cling to the old, while I strive for the new, ideally we arrive at median that satisfies the people who will be exposed to the graphic design, writing, user interface design, art–things.

As I continue to re-iterate and innovate, as best as my abilities allow me to, I’ve come across another term that has been around since the 1930’s; Umwelt. “The term is usually translated as “self-centered world”. In a sense, it means; to make meaning(s) possible for you. This is a very holistic approach to how we as people communicate, navigate and express ourselves using things we didn’t necessarily create ourselves or even need initially. Familiarity often breeds contempt. Learning something new or discovering a thing that may have been previously inexpressible or hard to understand, means a lot to us as people. It’s like a leap forward. The epiphany, cognizance, awareness–we feel like our IQ jumped 10 points.

Design or create with purpose, even if it’s end purpose wasn’t your initial intention. Everything we create is utilized, seen or felt by another human being. Skeuomorph and Umwelt–I’ll be working harder than ever to express these two words in my day-to-day activities.