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authenticity in design processes and relationships

Posted on by tyler

i'm headed to raleigh, north carolina today to attend and do a workshop at ncsu's biennial graduate symposium. this year's title is "design, community and the rhetoric of authenticity". elliott earls, brenda laurel, jon sueda are all speaking, so it should be stimulating. my workshop is during a series of one-hour sessions, so hopefully a few people will choose to come to mine. below is the abstract for what i'm doing. - - - - - - - - - design relationships and processes for agency this workshop begins from the premise that design processes and working relationships are two key factors contributing to the authenticity of design activity and artifacts. through small group brainstorming, discussion, diagramming and process-mapping, this workshop will examine the following: A) a range of possible relationships between those involved in the design process, primarily designer, client, and audience. relational factors such as social proximity, hierarchy and others will be evaluated. B) strategies for inclusive design processes throughout all stages of a project. various process models/strategies for research, organization, form-making, and other process phases will be developed, visualized, and discussed. - - - - - - - - - i have discovered several things over the past semester, months, year(s) that led to the premise. a recurring theme in the work i was making, seeing others make, and mentoring through teaching was that the closer a designer works with the client and audience, the more authentic, interesting, and engaging the end result is. another thing i've noticed, which is nothing new by any means, is how engaging and empowering it is to involve people in the actual creative process. this ranges from customizing your vans online to the crowdsourcing of those evil "design me a logo for ten bucks" websites (a misuse of crowdsourcing in my opinion), to meritocratic sites like threadless. there are lots of great ways to create new and unusual processes where people are empowered to contributed and be creative, and i hope through this workshop to begin uncovering some new ideas for how that can happen. we'll see what we can do in an hour...
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art as business

Posted on by tyler

why is it that creatives in general, and artists in particular, are always encouraged to "get serious" with their careers by treating it as a business? why is business a more legitimate concern in our society, indeed in our entire world, than artmaking and creative activity? where, in the evolution of humankind, did we go wrong with all the emphasis on economic standing through acquisition of material goods as an indicator of success? i think everyone knows that is a hollow pursuit, resulting in no true contentment or peace. in fact it does the opposite. but the evidence is all around us in the creative realm -- classes, tools, and advisors abound for helping us get more business-like with our art-making concerns. as if that is some indicator of how serious we are about our passions. what if the opposite were true? what if creative output were the driving force and all the money/material were relegated to the status of "necessary evil"? what would this poor world look like if everyone were encouraged to pursue their passion with creative zeal (and why does that question sound so idealistically crazy)? what if business got serious by getting creative? perhaps they do, to some extent. perhaps that's where we're headed, albeit slowly, as people like daniel pink and richard florida help business realize the value of creativity. but it ultimately is in service of economy, as i cynically see it anyway. i don't pretend that any of this thinking is anything more than me thinking out loud, but i take the questions as serious provocations. worth putting out there into the ether of the internets, anyway.
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micro-revolution

Posted on by tyler

i just had a revelation of sorts, or maybe it leaked into my conscious from late last night, but that illusive thing we call freedom is truly, fully, practiced only when we decide to take control over our lives to live them exactly as we want, free from expectations others or even our "rational", "responsible" selves put upon us. i am realizing that if i really want freedom from oppressive forces in my life, i have to take it in a conscious and deliberate way, no one else will do that for me. a million micros -- or even two or three -- add up to a macro, even if for a day, a moment. what do i want from my day, my moment? who will keel over dead if i steal time or effort from this mundane task for the sake of my own sanity, joy, love, passion?   the other day a student expressed the intense amount of effort that went into a project and how that short-changed another project that was coming due on the same day. i reassured them that as long as they knew what it is that they want from their educational experience -- where their passion, priorities, goals lie -- who really cared what the other project ended up like, especially if it is not something you intend to pursue? who really cared what the other grade ended up as? besides, i cannot make that kind of decision for a student -- it ultimately comes down to them. what excited me was the fact that this student voluntarily engaged in the work (read "play") for that amount of time, became immersed in it, and was now forced to short change something else because there simply was not enough time. it forced a decision, a realization -- this is important to me and that is not. micro, but amazing. now the trick is to do that consciously a million times a day.    as long as one is able to fully engage in the task at hand, gleaning everything that can be gleaned, living in the moment, loving life because one is fully engaged, that is what matters. when we can make those decisions free from external pressures is when we experience freedom, growth, transformation. it takes courage to do that. as a teacher, i need to inspire courage to make those decisions, to pursue passion whole-heartedly, not to constantly robotically respond to external pressures. so take courage, fellow designers, teachers, humans-at-large, to make decisions that free yourselves in micro-ways, every day, every moment.
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