Thursday, December 29, 2005

Demystified Design: Part One

Part One: The Idea Matrix

When I post a new creature, more often than not many of you ask me how on Earth I came up with THAT. Yeah, you know, that. Scroll down and take your pick.

In response to those inquiring minds, I plan to demystify my design process in a series of posts with the hopes that you may gain a bit of insight as to how I go about making this stuff and more importantly, nudging you through the door to designing and creating your own objects for I'm here to tell you all that any one of you can do what I do. Yes, you, can.

So c'mon, put on your wizard hat (for the act of making is nothing short of magical), grab a few hooks and some yarn from your stash (or whatever materials and tools spark your creative fancy) and follow me down the magical, demystified path to your Inner Creative Genius (Darth Vader voice appropriate here).

Chapter One: Free Your Mind

Okay, lose the Darth Vader voice and now begin channeling Laurence Fishburne (Morpheus) in the Matrix and repeat after me, "I will free my mind."

Why must we free our minds? Because grasshopper, design begins with the idea and ideas like lots of space to move around in so that they may evolve.

In the beginning there was the idea...

Did you ever look at some banal object, something you've seen day in and day out, and all of a sudden it speaks to you? No, not literally (not usually anyway). But intuitively. This, let's pick something for reference...your toaster, looks you straight in the eye as you're happily toasting your morning slice o' carbs and transmits the nature of its Inner Toaster to you..."Let's get together later and plan world domination."


Well, that's because your mind is closed thereby deflecting any message your Totalitarian Toaster may wish to send you. Peeps, ideas are EVERYWHERE. You must open your mind, your eyes, your ears, your sensory perceptions in general, to the world around you and allow them access the the inner-recesses of your brain for this is the place where ideas make their home.

So, how does one open their mind? Free their sensory perceptions? Create a hospitable place for ideas to take root and grow? Become receptive enough to catch those messages from the Totalitarian Toaster?

I suggest observing a segment of our population whose minds are not yet tainted by pedestrian adult sensibilities: children. Observe how children interact with their environment. They experience the world from a very uninhibited or new perspective. Sights, sounds, surfaces are unfamiliar and therefore ripe for discovery. As adults, we no longer view our familiar environments as places of discovery. Been there, done that. But by observing children we can relearn through observation what it is like to experience our rote world with a sense of wonder.

Don't have access to a small being? Watch your pet for a while. The fuzzbutts have much to show us grasshopper...

I've spent the last decade continually working at keeping my mind free and open to my environment. It's not easy and it is a daily practice. Oftentimes, I receive comments or emails inquiring if my ideas come to me in dreams. I answer this question with a definite NO. I tend to be more open to the conceptual wonders that stalk the crevices of my mind when awake, but I realize that this is not the case for everyone. Nonetheless, wide awake or deep slumber, your mind must be open to the world around you. This is where the magic takes place. Oh yes, ideas (the good, the bad and the ugly) are definitely thaumaturgic events and they do not happen in a mind that is too cluttered, imparts too many obstacles, to allow them space to breathe.

Chapter Two: Explore the New Old World

Okay Morpheus my mind is free. What's next?

Once your mind is open and tuned to optimal reception it is your duty to explore. Yep, revel in colors, shapes, forms, differing volumes and scales, textures, sounds and smells that constitute your environment. Allow the inert objects in your world to formulate their own language; listen to their plans for world domination. Embrace the whims of your muse and pay homage to that pear sitting sensually in a bowl on your kitchen counter exhibiting skin of beautiful muted green, infused with splashes of vermilion, ochre and umber, its bulbous bottom stalwartly supporting the slender bodice-like upper, topped delicately with its slightly twisted stem. Rightside up, the pear is seemingly, humanly, torso-esque. Upside down, the pear feigns cerubic face atop statuesque neck. Open your mind to the details AND the possibilities...eventually, that pear WILL find its voice and soon you may even hear it sing!

Listen to the spoken word (even if from a pear or toaster). Immerse yourself in text on page. When your mind is free, words and language have special significance. For me, words become the launch pad for myriad ideas rocketing forth from the depths of my creative inner workings to the tips of my digits. For example, remember SupaFly? Well that entomological crocheted wonder is rooted directly in our current vernacular. I literally just translated that popular term into the creature that finds itself packed away in my closet as I compose this here post.

When your mind is free, absolutely everything in your world is fodder for ideas. EVERYTHING.

In fact, my newest pool of conceptual devices trickles onto the gray matter that constitutes LabLinoleum from a direct feed from your minds. Yes, I'm using you guys (in a good way)! I am always delighted to find comments and emails asking me, urging me, pleading with me to crochet an ostomy bag (Lori), a human bone or a marbled steak (Noo), perhaps an entire Thanksgiving dinner (Deneen) and even maggots (Cordelia). This stuff is as good as gold folks. All I have to say is please, please, please keep 'em coming because my mind is free and set at maximum reception.

Chapter Three: The Playlist

Ideas are seeding and taking root. How do I keep track of them?

Now, what does one do after the floodgate of one's formerly closed mind has been released and there are Sugarplum Toasters and Wonderbread Fairies dancing around in one's head? Three words: write them down. Three more words: Sketch them out. And even more words: take a picture; make origami models; keep track of them on Post-Its; sing songs in their honor...Okay, I've gone too far.

Listen, If you want to be an IJ (Idea Jockey) then you must be prepared to document your little milestones thereby creating an Idea Playlist. Document all of your ideas. Yes, the good, the bad and the ugly because some ideas, even bad ones, can turn good. They just need to cure for a bit. You know? You know.

So, get yourself a little notebook that can fit in your purse, bag, pocket, hat, whatever and some sort of writing implement. Carry these with you at all times. You never know when the muse will strike, especially when you're mind is open and the reception crisp and clear. Trust me, when your idea-flow hits maximum volume, you will not remember each and every one flitting about the recesses of your gray matter unless you document them.

I treat my Idea Playlist/Journal as another limb. I carry it everywhere and I do not buy purses that cannot accommodate it. I'm serious. Not only do I write in my magical book of ideas, but I sketch stuff out, paste in images that I find in print media and document the messages received from the Totalitarian Toaster Regime...This is my personal place to keep track of all the concepts free-floating about my head just waiting to come to fruition.

Let's review:
  1. Free your mind.
  2. Talk to the toaster. Just kidding.
  3. Once mind is freed, explore your world and allow your brain to have unlimited access to the ideas.
  4. Obtain a notebook, journal or sketchbook and dedicate it to your ideas.
  5. Document, document, document.

Obviously this is how ideas and idea generation are treated over here at LabLinoleum. It's kind of an obtuse subject, but I'd be interested to hear how you deal with your own Idea Matrix, for my mind is open and reception is set at max.

In our next episode, Morpheus will show us how our conceptions can be made whole in the world of the real...

Stay tuned.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Ms. Lino for the glimpse into the creative process! All of us artistic wannabes appreciate the insight. I've got something to add to my 'personal growth' category for '06. ;) Can't wait to read the next installment and definitely can't wait to see your WWF meat wrestlers! Have a happy new year!

Anonymous said...

This is great, and I definitely concur! I'm probably gaining a bit of a reputation around town as I can often be seen staring at some seemingly innocuous object because I see an interesting pattern, or color, or shape, when it's combined with something else.

Bunny said...

These are great tips! In the new year I want to try to create something original. Most of my creations are one of a kind, due to the unexpected materials used to alter an existing pattern. Like using ribbon instead of yarn for hair. I have a few Ideas rattling around in my head. (I am giving them more space as I type) Thanks for the inspiration.

Ellen Bloom said...

OK, so THIS is what your book should be about!!! Not only are you one of the MOST creative people I've ever met, you give us instructions on how to be creative too! Thanks, Hon.
Happy New Year to you and yours! Dig you in '06!

Agent Orange

Jessica said...

Great post!

I find that most of my ideas come to me when I'm unable to write them down, despite almost always having paper nearby. Like in the shower. Or in the middle of a presentation at work. Or when walking the dogs.

But I have been known to stop dead in the middle of a grocery aisle and make a note of the colors of a cereal box or the shape a cracker or cookie. Inspiration does come from everywhere!

(And my new toaster oven? Divine. She and I may be chatting. She has Princess Leia buns on the sides to accomodate her convection fans. Fabulous. :)

(PS: If you want to cook more, try getting a convection toaster oven. They're bigger than a regular toaster oven, don't heat up the kitchen, and force you to be creative to fit a meal in a smaller area. :)

Marvie said...

Just dropping in to wiash you and yours a Happy New Year! Also, thanks for the creative tips =) Can't wait to read more about your process!

Micky said...

Hope you have a very Happy New Year! And beyond!

The Bookworm said...

happy new year! stopping by for a visit....amazing as always...that tater claus is a riot! you rock!

LG said...

May health, happiness and good times greet you each day of the new year! Happy 2006 Regina!