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If you’re unfamiliar with the man, he typically does not create physical pieces of art that are then bought or sold. Rather, what is bought and sold is a simple set of instructions on a certificate that can be used to recreate the piece many times over. Ownership of the piece is implied by who owns the instructions in the same way that knowing the secret formula to Coca-Cola would allow you to create and consume it whenever you please. Knowledge is power—and free soda.
In some ways I wonder if design can be seen in the same light. After all, design is typically an applied process of problem solving for visual communication. If art, a true form of self-expression, can be a machine than surely design can.
There are formulaic approaches to visual problems that often yield a solid result or act as a foundation for commonly-defined creativity (grids, typographic scales, everything that is The International Style). My own work is so largely predicated on these approaches that I often feel that the term ‘creative’ is questionable for how I do what I do.
Everything is a Remix is a great video mini-series by Kirby Ferguson about what I like to think of as the “It’s All Been Done Before” line of thought. Whenever you read an interview with anyone remotely creative the question of inspiration pops up. It’s always the same answer: whatever is around them—their experiences. After all, many of us have a black box of design tricks that get us out of creative binds, built from the works of others and our past experiences. Sounds formulaic to me as well.
Many creative processes, especially if you went to a design school, involve multiple rounds of iteration. Break a larger problem into smaller pieces, figure out the variables, and make a dozen thumbnail sketches. Pick the best few and see if you can improve upon them. Survival of the fittest thought on pen and paper. Design evolution. Logical. Granted, if there is a spark of ingenuity, it usually occurs here. Darwin would be proud of your design mutation.
Is design as simple as everything you’ve experienced being digested, iterated upon, and spat back out on top of a foundation of principles? I’m not sure either, just thinking in writing.
In the coming weeks I’ll continue posting tips for making the most of all the new features of Alfred’s latest version 0.9.
In the meantime, however, why not have a look at a quick overview of the main improvements and additions?
Taken with instagram
I love the sky (Taken with instagram)
Sweet! (Taken with instagram)
Day off (Taken with instagram)
Loretto Chapel (Taken with instagram)
Hiking (Taken with instagram)
Prayer Garden (Taken with Instagram at Glorieta Conference Center)