Bob is one of those friends who you can reconnect with after 20 years and it feels like yesterday. We traveled to Japan together in college and picked our friendship back up when I moved back to Chicago from New York. Bob is a wonderful combination of funny and smart, insightful and thought-provoking, talented and humble. His design work reflects his ability to listen intently, think richly, and create with a fresh eye. His honesty and love of people is apparent in the artwork that he has so bravely pursued recently. I’m a big fan.
Bob's Creative Process :
AS A DESIGNER
Does anyone remember the IPDE process from drivers ed? Identify, Predict, Decide, Execute. While I don't have a decidedly repeatable process for my creative work, the IPDE process seems to be broad enough to be ownable for me.
Identify: For me this means listen. Not just a little, but to be wholly present and really hear what a client is saying, pay attention to how it is being said and read between the lines. To ask the uncomfortable questions that get non-stock answers and then listen even harder to what is being said ... including the actual language being used. It's in this type of engagement that the potential for partnership level understanding can actually take place and be valuable. Well proofed and supplied creative briefs side-step potential pitfalls and deliver sterile rehearsed stock language. When I work with a client I am looking to uncover their authentic cultural characteristics, not the ones a team decided were the ones they wanted associated with them, but the real ones. That said, when you connect with someone on a deeper level and within a common language system you build trust that will uncover the actual task that needs to be performed rather than the one you were brought to the table for.
Predict: As a boutique studio owner I do not have access to focus groups or the budget for research like that. But as a present and participating citizen of this world, nation, state, city and community, I am a pretty good barometer of how our target will react to a message or product. And predicting that correctly is the first step to decide how to deliver it to them ... straight, soft, with humor, elegantly, raw, over time or immediately. (Worth noting ... most of our clients are in the arts/culture world and are in general like minded ;) I have also always been able to see both sides to a story to a fault and use that trait to guide me in my predictions as well.
Decide: Now I feed my learnings through my own filter and choose the best design path to go down. I begin with a form that surprises so that I make a unique connection immediately; do type studies until I feel like I don't see a font anymore; and source images that bring something complimentary to the table. Over the course of refining the content, together with my client, I refine the design as well. This part is pretty iterative and ultimately resolves itself through the production of the deliverable itself. We each get closer to what is being said and the result is a detailed design that is absolutely specific to the content being delivered. I like to believe it is always beautiful or powerful or important, but the truth is it is all of these things if it is authentic, so am less concerned with the actual aesthetic than the ability of the piece to perform its duties.
Execute: I hire the best I can afford to help me here. Great printers with accountability and craftsmanship and amazing developers with their heads as high in the clouds as I can find. And of course I listen to the client to know where we will find the target and to help us get in front of them.
AS AN ARTIST
IPDE doesn't work so well. It's really about living and timing and personal bandwidth. It's more simple but less clear. I pay attention to everything and everyone around me. Feel whatever is going on and accept those feelings. Write down every idea no matter how stupid it sounds and with no regard for how I can make it happen and then move on to the dishes or whatever else needs to get done. I come back to all the ideas when the time is right and usually when I am alone and get down in my basement and make it. Most of it will never be seen and is for me ... kind of therapy really. But the stuff that comes up the stairs ... well I hope it matters to someone other than me. Thats the goal.
Whose creative process are you curious to find out about ?
I want to know Carlos Segura's process. Met him one fabulous night and was inspired beyond belief. He's coming up on this blog ... cant wait.