Coming up with ideas when you’re suffering from creative block can be an excruciatingly painful experience. Sitting there staring at your blank piece of paper begins to drive you a little insane and it just makes you even more stressed. Sometimes the best ideas come into your head when you’re making a cup of tea or watching First Dates on Channel 4, not when you’re sat behind a desk forcing yourself to think outside of the box. This is when super simple tasks like writing on post-it notes with time frames, comes in handy.
“Mistakes are inevitable, make them now.”
As a class, we were required to visualise on post-it notes as many reasons as we could, as to why we were late this morning. Each post-it represented one idea and this exercise was designed to get us thinking quickly whilst exploring and developing scamping techniques. Using our imaginations, our solutions could be as realistic, normal, surreal or funny as we liked. The aim was to have a vast array of concepts, ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime, but also to experiment visualising quickly. Once complete we sorted, discussed and organised the ideas and stuck them up on the wall.
There were so many wacky ideas up on the wall, it’s really great seeing how other people respond to the same task. Some people stayed with the standard excuses like hitting snooze one too many times or missing the bus. Some people went off on crazy tangents like getting eaten by dragons or captured by Pokemon balls and quite a lot of people said the same thing – getting abducted by aliens.
Seeing other people’s ideas really gets the creative juices flowing because you’re vibing off everybody else’s energies. When all the ideas were up we started to categorize them into realistic and unrealistic ideas. Getting people involved in this process and hearing the conversations and jokes flying around the room was really uplifting and made me want to try the exercise again with a new found vision. Luckily, that’s exactly what we did.
To get us up and walking about, my lecturer walked us to the university cafeteria, also known as the Heart Space which is the epicenter of activity in UWL. He stood underneath the highest part of the ceiling and said, “I’m holding a helium balloon, I’ve just let it go, now it’s right at the top of the ceiling, how will I get it down?” By him doing this small action, the cogs in my brain started to turn and I was instantly envisioning ways in which I could get that balloon down.
Just like before, we only had one hour, so I whipped out my notepad and started drawing stick men scenarios of all the crazy solutions I was coming up with. We had to visualise ideas quickly, it was the quantity and not the quality that mattered, and so I didn’t feel scared to make mistakes. I was just drawing anything that popped into my head, even if it was totally ludicrous or even boring, it didn’t matter, it was drawn.
“To have a good idea, have a lot of them.” Thomas Edison
Okay I know they were supposed to be done on post-it notes but I didn’t buy any so I improvised. I actually really like the way these little drawings turned out. I mean they were rushed and some are super crazy and don’t actually look anything like I imagined but there’s something quite funny and charming about these little stick men doing random things to get a bloody balloon down.
I ripped them up into individual drawings afterwards as well so that they could be stuck up onto the wall with tape for feedback and discussion. I enjoyed this exercise because I thought of some really awesome ideas, some that I probably wouldn’t have thought about in a normal environment without having the time constraints and the opportunity to win a box of chocolates at stake. Just like before, up they went onto the wall, where we could look, laugh and talk about everybody else’s ideas. Once up there, we organised them again into realistic and unrealistic decisions and by doing this we were able to whittle them down to a few of our favourites. I find it interesting how a simple task like this can draw out so much imagination from a group of tired university students. It was something so easy and playful but it actually allowed us to really just let go.
I wanted to create a poster out of all my balloon illustrations because they were really quite funny, there’s something quite sarcastic and dry about stick men, they resemble Ricky Gervais humour. So I made my drawings into vectors on Illustrator and then arranged them in InDesign in separate boxes along with labels showing the actions in each scenario. I started to enjoy the process of idea making and I was actually quite good at it. This is definitely a process I will be repeating, especially when I’m sat looking at that blank paper, not knowing what to make or do. As an extension to this task, we had to do the same sort of activity at home, with a scenario of our choice. We had to create something that required us to generate ideas quickly and for a creative purpose. My idea follows perfectly into the next task, so head on over to the next post to find out what I did!