Archive for the ‘simple design’ Category

Are you stuck in a jar? Dealing with the ‘Me Marinade’ syndrome

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

The ‘Me Marinade’ is not a great place to be in general – and more so if you depend on a constant flow of creativity in your livelihood. Symptoms: you feel as if you’re trapped in a small jar with your old briny self, like being pickled alive (in all your defunct ideas). You can’t see beyond the confines of the glass jar (your defunct ideas) your are completely trapped. Everything produced and created while in this state tends to be rehashed material – tired concepts that somehow seeped out of the archives. This material is so old and stinky; it can make a person physically ill.

stuck in a jar

The condition is very common in creative fields, where so much is expected; much of it unrealistic. Here’s what creative teams don’t get in trying to move past imagination-stagnation with intense brainstorming sessions. Brainstorming can have the opposite effect. They only work when people are feeling great. When people are stuck, brainstorming just makes people feel stressed out and nervous, they will then consume more 90% cocoa, espresso and smoke more ciggies in an attempt to gain control. At the root of the ‘Me Marinade’ syndrome is a feeling of being helpless and out of control.

Here are some ideas to think about.

Right-brain, left-brain stimulation.

As an attendee of Jennifer Lee’s brilliant, The Right-Brainers in Business Video Summit in early March, I was surprised to learn that by doing left-brain activities (math, puzzles etc.) you can actually balance/stimulate the right side of the brain. It seems by using the left side of the brain you free up the right brain – thereby finding fresh creative pathways.

The rebirth of using hands, paper and drawing tools.

Freeform sketching and doodling is very helpful as a jar-busting problem solver. It’s well known that creative types like to use their hands. So why not keep traditional drawing media around and set aside time on a regular basis for drawing and doodling? You can doodle and draw yourself out of the ‘Me Marinade’ because spontaneous doodling releases information from the subconscious parts of the brain. This can unleash abundant possibilities and ideas. For more ideas on this topic, read The Miseducation of the Doodle by Sunni Brown on A List Apart.

Finally go out at night and look at the sky and stars.

Nothing to add to that, looking at the cosmos puts everything in perspective. It’s a liberating act by itself.

A case for simplicity

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Maybe because I’m half Japanese, I like simple things. I can’t stand clutter of any kind. I know when marketers test different Landing Pages for click-throughs, the tacky design always wins out over the nicer ones, but I don’t care. I will always give good design a fighting chance.

As a starting point my experience matters first – for UX and everything related to design. If something doesn’t work for me, there’s a good reason why. Because I’m the expert. My eye is trained like a sumi brush. But more importantly I know what works and what doesn’t.

The interesting thing is – when you pare things down, you begin to understand how to use emptiness as a design element. Empty space then begins to drive the visual design, even more than the actual content. It’s all very Zen. It takes a certain amount of bravery to keep things minimal and not over embellish. And you’ve got to know when it’s time to toss out a bad idea.

Lately the web is starting to look like Grandma’s attic with all the Web 2.0 accoutrements. There’s so much to sort through – from vintage desk tops to spilled coffee. I’m wondering what’s beneath it all. Maybe nothing….