Image by Jana and Koos Free Art project.

The Creativity Glitch

A tale of creation

Being a creative mind is hard. It’s not as linear and planned as an engineering- or science-minded life. It is more like the ebb and flow of an ocean. Or the waxing and waning of the moon. Or the glitch which turns into art.

Two creative minds — Jana and Koos — shared their creative journey, taking us through the ups and downs of the creative process at a meetup in Cape Town this week hosted by the IO PowWow team talks. They shared their creative process in building a brand from scratch, first looking at a project that was hard, followed by an easier one, sharing their insights and how they fuel their creative fire.

Born in a half artist, half engineer family myself, listening to their process of creation made me feel a bit more normal. For me, the creative process is most painful before it is most delightful. And as we journeyed with them from coming up with a brand new name to refining the final pieces of the puzzle of their creative work, time stood still for an hour.

Many insights were shared, but these were the ones that stood out most for me and can be applied to anyone — designer, artist, engineer, or just a normal human being:

Insight #1: It’s not art if it’s not personal

Copying or reproducing is easy — relatively that is of course. Creating something original is much harder. Creating something original and something that delights the customer — a rare find indeed.

The secret to delightful and original art is about getting personal and really knowing your customer intimately. It’s taking the time to go through the small little details of the work. It’s noticing the customer’s quirky sense of humor which makes them uniquely them. It’s understanding their likes and dislikes, seeing their distinctive footprint in the world, noticing what is often taken for granted by others.

To delight, art has to be personal.

Insight # 2: Creativity requires fun

The most creative and delightful creations are born when you’re most relaxed. It’s the crazy idea that everyone laughs at that becomes the wow! design. It’s the accidental stumbled upon design that becomes the most entrancing.

Constant stress, deadlines and being busy is the enemy of truly unique art. It takes slack time to be creative.

It’s the dance between tight deadlines and the void of nothingness that nurtures creativity.

Insight #3: Always say yes

Much like the creative process itself, work comes and goes in ebb an flow. When work is flowing, always say yes.

Outsource and partner with the right people at the right time, but never say never.

Art is a team sport. It works better together. When it flows, go with the flow. When the flow stop, relax and smell the flowers along the way. Or otherwise put, make hay while the sun shines.

Insight #4: The devil is in the details

Customers know what they like but it’s hard to articulate or describe something that hasn’t been created yet. Reading minds is a skill that most people don’t have, so to gather feedback, context is everything. Show a many options as possible.

It’s the scatter cushion with the printed design that evokes the hell yes! response, not the one logo you think is best or most suited. It’s the inclusion of the optical illusion in every little detail, from the bar design to the labels that gives life to a brand, as M E S H can attest. It’s showing, not telling, within context, how the brand will look like.

80% creation, 20% production.

Insight #5: Don’t stop until you’re proud AND the customer is awed

Most people stop working on a project when the time is over or the money is up. Some, slightly more admiring and daring ones, don’t stop until they’re proud. But it’s a rare gem to discover a partnership who don’t stop until they’re proud and the customer is delighted. Not just happy, but absolutely delighted.

Jana and Koos does nothing the same twice, and they don’t stop until they’re proud. Showing us the hundreds of samples and options that went into one of the harder projects is evidence of the secret to success in design or any other form of art.

The difference between average and awesome. Perseverance.

Final thoughts and ebracing the glitch in the creative process…

Keep an eye on the website for their newest project, a collection of free high quality art with a distinctive and different spin.

Share in the fun by creating your own, or enjoy what they create running respected artist’s work through glitch apps.

Mistakes are often blessings in disguise.

Which concludes my final insight from the meetup in a lesson I’ve been trying to learn the past few months — namely allowing people to make mistakes.

Most people build fences to keep out the hurt because that’s the easy option.

Yet, one of the most compassionate things you can do is to forgive someone who’s made a mistake that hurt you. It’s also one of the hardest things to do. It means you allow someone to hurt you.

But once you’ve forgiven, you realize it was no mistake after all. It was just the process of creating something even more beautiful and unique.

It takes a true artist to embrace mistakes.

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