Creative Mornings PDX: Gary Hirsch

Gary Hirsch Creative Mornings Notes by Bryna Shields

Creative Mornings is one of my favorite parts of the design community. There is so much to gain from the insights of others, and I always walk away from these talks feeling energized and renewed. Gary Hirsch's talk last week was the first one I've been to since moving to Portland, and it was so lovely. 

Gary shared the way he combines the philosophy behind improv into work environments as a way to brainstorm creative new ideas. For instance, before the lecture he had us write down our 3 favorite things, and later on we had to combine one of our favorite things with another person's to create a business idea that doesn't already exist. Admittedly, I was initially nervous about this, but it was so freeing to give in to the process and just have fun with it. You'd be surprised how quickly an exercise like this brings out new ideas. Honestly, it's brilliant.

The last part of his talk was about creating experiences through art that invite others to participate. He has created over 30,000 (!!!) bots that he hand painted onto dominos, and places them in different locations around the world, to see what people do with them. Often people will bring them to a new location and photograph them, or write about the outrageous compliment the bot was programmed to give them. Whatever the case may be, I loved this idea of letting others step in and decide how they will experience and interact with your work. It embraces this idea of not being too precious with your ideas, which is something I've been considering a lot these days. It's about seeing your art as a starting point for co-creation, and I truly think this is the key to creating something larger than yourself. These are the things that can grow and change, and create a long lasting impact in our world.

If you'd like to learn more about Hirsch's bots and how you can get involved, please check out his website!

Struck + Nick Animation Studio

Design Talk: Struck Portland

A couple of weeks ago, AIGA Portland hosted a talk with the brilliant creative agency Struck. The talk centered around their work with Nick Animation Studio. I was enamored with their process, and their ability to produce engaging content that harkened back to the quirky and wild visuals I enjoyed as a kid of the 90s.

They emphasized the importance of showing what you're doing, rather than telling people. In our world where nearly everything is conveyed digitally, this resonated so much with me as I consider the kinds of experiences I want to create through my own brand, online and in person. How can I make that experience more personal? More compelling? What kinds of stories inspire and excite others? How might I grow and nurture a community with my art and photography?

During their talk, I was fascinated with their thought process, how they approached different problems they encountered along the way, how they worked with budget constraints. These are the things that excite and inspire me, and encourage me to go forth and create my own content from a place of enthusiasm and authenticity. So much of the content they created for NAS was centered around creating an experience, lifting a veil by showing process sketches of what Spongebob could have been, for instance. Creating walls in their office that looked like a giant yellow sponge added playfulness and demonstrated an abstract way to incorporate the characters they create into their work environment, so that walking through their offices becomes a unique experience unto itself. I was especially struck by the brilliance of this idea.

My biggest takeaway from this talk was that there are endless ways to approach a branding problem, that goals can drastically change in the discovery process, and that unforeseen obstacles are opportunities to create something even more brilliant. What started out as a website redesign blossomed into the creation of engaging video content, environmental design, and even a custom puppet resembling a camera-shy employee who was being interviewed. All in all, I came away from the talk feeling empowered by Struck's willingness to face challenges head-on and create beautiful solutions on the fly when it was necessary.