Well, this has been an interesting year. It’s funny how you can be someone at the start of something and months later be someone else. That might be the wrong way of putting it though. Perhaps you just become more of who you really are.
At the beginning of the year I summed up what creativity meant to me; largely going against what Sir Ken Robinson defines as creativity. For myself, creativity is still deserving of a broader definition and I stand by mine of “the ability to move an idea from your mind into the physical realm in any form.” The idea of limiting creative to original ideas as Sir Ken Robinson and so many others do is flawed on a fundamental level to me. For one thing, I don’t believe there is such thing as originality anymore. I believe people can put their voice, their signature into an idea, but that doesn’t change the inherent nature of the idea.
As the year went on I went on to learn, or perhaps re-learn ideas. Design Thinking was something that I was taught throughout my undergraduate career, but never knew the name. To me it’s the idea of stepping back from yourself and trying to see a problem from your targets point of view. It isn’t about the really cool idea you had a week ago. It’s about a problem you see that you believe you can help fix. I would almost go so far as to call it selfless design, unless of course the problem is your own.
One thing I am relatively proud of is my blog titles for the first half of the year. One of my classmates said it’s what made him excited to read my blog, to see what strange new words I would use. I feel it important to explain myself here, now. The first eight blog posts, besides the very first one, involve a color and another word. Either the color or the word relates to the content and hints at what the post will be about. For instance Piers of Gold is about the financial discussion we had on crowdfunding such as Kickstarter. Cerulean Crows was based on the ideas presented by Nadege Meriau on letting your art or creative work go, as in a bird flying away.
In the second term the titles were supposed to follow this pattern of hinting at the content of the posts. They would also include the added bonus of a countdown, or is it a count-up? This plan fell through and leaves me with a small feeling of regret. I always enjoy being able to create small puzzles for people in my writing, so when I didn’t have the time to think on the titles I felt my blog began to lack something. The titles counting up to midnight does have symbolic meaning though. Midnight is the end and the beginning of the day at the same time. Just as this is the beginning and end of the journey of learning for me.
I also, somewhat, think I peaked early in my posts. My second and third posts, a double post titled Obsidian Masks, for myself were the peak of creative blogging. Perhaps it was the fact that the symbolism in the #knowyourlemons campaigns everyone created allowed me to discuss a topic I am passionate about. Maybe it was the fact that It was the first posts where I used the topic to talk about personal projects. If you can gauge someone’s enthusiasm about something by how many words they type, especially when there is no word limit, the fact that I typed way more than I needed to, to discuss symbolism, says something.
It’s always interesting to take something you’ve known for a long time and apply it to new fields, which I think is what happened a lot in the first half of the year. I’m not positive I could say I learned anything new in the first half of the year, but I did learn new ways to look at them. For instance I knew what personas were, but I had never applied the idea of persona and characterization to a brand. I had never created a brand persona for anything before. It wasn’t any different or more difficult than making a persona for a story or in my head, but more specific intention had to be placed on certain aspects.
In the second half of the year I began to focus far more significantly on the business my team was designing. Each post followed the previous in a timeline of what we had done over the year. Some were much more involved, as some parts of the business I had more to do with than others. The one thing I knew I’d discuss is the idea of being a leader and being “pushed” into the role. Not pushed by someone, more by the idea that a leader was needed in this instance.
Although I needed to become a leader and push my team into work I am still incredibly proud of what they accomplished. In a short amount of time I think we all gained new skills and knowledge. I for instance learned what VAT is and learned more about finance than I have in 25 years. I also re-learned how to sew. I think more than anything we all learned who we are in the setting of collaboration.
Growing up I would have never thought one day I’d be in a leadership role, and be decent at it. I tried to lead by example, I tried to let my team create something and be passionate about it. Did I succeed? I’m not sure. I’d like to think I did for the most part. I’ve said this before, but in the end I think the thing I learned the most is who I am as a person and as a collaborator. I hope it’s the same for the rest of my team. I think this quote from Peter F. Drucker sums up my feelings on true leaders well. Leader is the word in the blank, by the way.
As much as I appreciate what having to design a business did for me, it wasn’t without it’s downs. For one thing I’ve never seen myself as an entrepreneur. I’ve never wanted to start my own business. That isn’t to say I never wanted the knowledge or skills to do it, it was just never something that got my blood boiling. I want to have a role in the world somewhat like Geoff Johns for DC Comics. He is somewhat known for “fixing” and modernizing characters that have become a little too out dated. If I could become that for the creative industries I would be very content. I don’t think I could have done that before gaining the skills from having to design my own business though. So, even though at the end of this my feelings for being an entrepreneur haven’t changed I am appreciative of the experience and skills I gained.
I’m still pretty mad I missed out on creating our teams advertisement when I was dying in my bed for two weeks. Just watching the advertisement and the bloopers made me realize I missed out on one of the most fun aspects of the business. I would like to thanks The National Gallery, on behalf of my team, for having an empty room we could shoot the most important scene in during the day. I honestly don’t know what we would have done if we didn’t find an empty room in the gallery that day, as we were already pressed for time. I guess that’s what you get when you want authenticity and control.
Actually designing and producing our product was a whirlwind, or a hurricane. I had prototyped before, learning a lot about IDEO in my undergraduate career guaranteed that. What I had never done was take a product to completion, especially when that completion involved it being hand made. I can’t stress the importance to the team of our product being hand made. If it wasn’t I can honestly say we wouldn’t have been as passionate about it. My team would like to thank my mother for helping me figure out how to actually make our product cheaply and in a timely manner. I’d like to thank her for helping me sew when I just couldn’t do it anymore. Do I think the product could be better? Of course, everything in the world can always be improved. Am I proud of what we accomplished as a small team in a short amount of time? Absolutely.
If anyone had come up to me and said by the end of the year I would design a product that could actually be sold, the process of which involved re-learning how to sew, accepting that I might be a leader, applying things I’m passionate about like symbolism to businesses, and learning how to create financial charts, I would honestly have laughed at them. Well I guess the jokes on me.