WEEK SEVEN: Essay

by lhiggins3396

Discuss methods used for creative thinking and how they have inspired you. Explain how they have influenced your project.

Known as the ‘father’ of brainstorming, Alex Osborn once quoted, “It is easier to tone down a wild idea than to think up a new one.”[1] This quote demonstrates that in order to be as artistically creative as you possibly can be you must not restrict thoughts that could seem out of the ordinary. This is important to take into consideration when making the decision of what style of journalistic text and imagery you aim to produce.

When applied to fashion journalism projects, it is vital to have an understanding and interest of what style brand would appeal to your demographic, in order to show your creative skills in Photoshop and InDesign to your best ability. Quite often although my preference would be to base my work round journalism rather than photography, I made the conscious decision to base my creative media project to highlight both my journalistic and photographic skills, as this allowed me to challenge myself and move away from my comfort zone. For this creative project I decided to create a sister magazine for the Urban Outfitters, free of charge in-store supplement. My starting point was very much a “blank canvas” as I was not clear which direction my publication would take, or how it would be structured. This is where the various techniques for developing creative thinking were of great assistance.

One method often used to encourage creative thinking is to spend time outdoors rather than be confined in a certain space, this has the affect of freeing up the mind. Psychology professor at Santa Clara University, Marily Oppezzo, held an experiment which resulted in finding out, the more you walk outdoors the more creative you will become. “Our study shows everybody’s creativity improved when they were walking compared to themselves when they were sitting.”[2] I adopted this technique in the early stage of designing my publication and explored locations which may have similar publications. Whilst walking through the city centre, I began reading the Urban Outfitters in-house magazine, and became inspired by the artistic fashion/landscape images and contemporary music features.

The study undertaken by Stanford researchers continued to support the theory that the more time spent being exposed to the outdoors, the more likely you would be to conceive fresh thoughts. The Stanford research concluded that, ‘A person’s creative output increased by an average of 60% when walking.’[3] A popular quote ‘travel broadens the mind’ is also relevant to this study, as the more experiences you encounter, the more material you have to draw on to develop new ideas.

The magazine supplement gave me a basic idea of the style, brand and demographic that my project should appeal to. Further in my research I continued to visit fashion stores and music venues in Leeds city centre, that would attract a similar cliental to the readers of Urban Outfitters magazine and my target audience. Belgrave Music Hall, a venue that hosts music/food/film and art events also appeared to appeal to the likely readers of my magazine, and coincidentally also distributed a monthly publication, free of charge containing similar features with the same minimalistic house style.

The first stage of beginning to find ideas to feature in my fashion magazine proved to be the most difficult, I found myself contemplating several ideas to include in editorial features, but slowly excluded ideas that I soon realised would not appeal to the demographic. An example of this would be the initial idea of interviewing the creative director of the female fashion brand Illustrated People, before deciding that this feature would not be appropriate to appeal to a male audience. Alex Osborn the creator of the thinking technique, ‘Brainstorming’ influenced the start of my working process. The traditional creative thinking method enabled me to figure out a start point, in which I used three different sections (fashion/art/music) to divide into categories of different features. From this I began to develop ideas that related to each section, an example being in the music and art section, what genre of music I would focus on, musicians I would interview and how to make contact. Using this technique also allowed me to eliminate ideas that may not have been appropriate for my feature.

Regarded as the father of literal thinking and the creator of the ‘Six thinking hats’ method, Edward de Bono uses metaphorical different coloured hats in order to show different directions of thoughts.[4] The Six Thinking Hats method was used to determine my thought process. When developing the layout and look of my sister magazine supplement, I had to consider the decisions I would make when choosing models, landscapes and interesting locations to photograph. When organising my magazine, I felt it was important that I had an overview of what was going to happen and how I would control each design aspect making sure each page remained in the continuous minimalistic house style. This thinking method allowed to me gather and channel my creative thoughts in a controlled method, lead by the ‘blue’ thinking hat. Throughout this exercise I adopted the slightly more pessimistic, judgemental ‘black’ hat approach. When organising photo shoot locations and contemplating what edits would be appropriate for each image, it became apparent that I began questioning how realistic my ideas were, and the obstacles (e.g. If for some reason my model didn’t turn up to the shoot), I might face.

In order to encourage thinking outside the box, it is important to recognize the value of creativity to broaden the mind. TEDTalks speech by Educationalist speaker Sir Ken Robinson discussed how educational platforms are driving people away from creativity and how being academic as oppose to showing creativity is classed as more important. Robinson believes that people don’t grow into creativity, they get educated out of it. He continues his speech by quoting Pablo Picasso; ‘All children are born artists’. Robinson supports Picasso’s quote by saying, ‘children are not scared have a wrong answer, as we grow up we have become scared to be wrong.’[5] Ken Robinson’s speech inspired me to allow my thoughts to be as bizarre and tenuous as they seem, making brainstorming ideas for my project exciting and unrestricted. In brainstorming sessions it is recognised that there are no wrong suggestions. Robinson’s quote, ‘If you are not prepared to be wrong you will never come up with anything original’[6] was motivating when creating designs for my magazine, and gave me a boost of confidence when deciding what would be appropriate for my feature. It is a well known saying that, ‘A man who never made a mistake never did anything’, this supports Robinsons view that creativity and pushing boundaries leads to new ideas and innovation.

In conclusion Edward de Bono’s critical creative thinking methods such as the Six Thinking Hats and Lateral Thinking techniques contributed in stimulating and developing my creative thought process. The Six Thinking Hats method give me an insight as to each element of my thought process, urging me to think about the facts that will be discussed in my features, emotions that could be linked to my feature, the logic behind my decisions, how well I am controlling my decisions, and most importantly; if the direction of my thinking was heading towards a creative route. Researching different methods of creative thinking became both enlightening and significant to me, as it has contributed immensely in improving the standard of my work and creativity.

 

Referencing:

[1] Sky mark Writers. (-). Alex F. Osborn: Father of the Brainstorm. Available: http://www.skymark.com/resources/leaders/osborne.asp. Last accessed 25th November 2014.

[2] Deborah Netburn . (April 26th 2014). In a creative slump? Take a walk..  Available: http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-creative-walking-study-20140425-story.html. Last accessed 25 November 2014.

[3] May Wong. (April 24th 2014). Stanford study finds walking improves creativity. Available: http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/april/walking-vs-sitting-042414.html. Last accessed 25 November 2014.

[4] SEO Content Marketing . (16th July 2013). Eight Awesome Creative Thinking Techniques (Plus Tools). Available: http://www.koozai.com/blog/search-marketing/content-marketing-seo/eight-awesome-creative-thinking-techniques-plus-tools/. Last accessed 25 November 2014.

[5] & [6] TedTalks video . (2007?). Video – Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?. Available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY. Last accessed 25 November 2014.

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