Tag inspiration

Inspiration: Grimes, “Genesis”


Inspiration: Kupio Album Preview


Eyes Wide Open II.

Several years ago, I designed a sugar dispenser for an industrial design class.  I decided on this particular challenge after seeing just how quickly sugar poured out of a similar dispenser at a local restaurant.  Through the design process, I discovered that it was my various interests that played a key role in the final product.

Here are a few examples:

Model Railroading: Once I had a general idea for what the dispenser would look like along with the relative dimensions, I created “sketch models” which are basically rough prototypes made from various materials.  Thinking back to my model railroading days, I chose styrene plastic for later prototypes along with the final model.  Styrene is typically used for the construction of miniature buildings used on a model railroad, and I decided that the material would work well for this project.

Architecture (Core): I wanted the dispenser to be very modern looking and sleek; ultimately something much different from those you would normally see in a restaurant.  I ultimately decided to model the dispenser similar in structure to a modern skyscraper, and I chose a variation of styrene to match the building’s fascade (narrow vertical lines without horizontal equivalents).

Architecture (Supplemental): While I liked the skyscraper concept, I felt that another design element was needed.  In one of my visits to the Los Angeles area I noticed a building that had a protruding metal “screen” with large-scale letters inset within (negative space).  I decided that I would do the reverse and project letters outward (positive space).  But what letters?

Chemistry & Flight Training: Here I combined my original undergraduate goal (chemical engineering) with my flight training experience to come up with the “surface layer” that would rest on one of the dispenser “walls.”  The chemical formula for sugar contains the elements Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen.  Similarly, the airport code relative where I was living is CHO (Charlottesville-Albemarle).  Clearly, the gods had spoken.

The process of designing an object, vehicle, experience, etc. that has value in the real world takes not only solid design skills, it requires the ability to pull from multiple disciplines and incorporate those findings into something powerful.

Until perhaps now, I have always believed that my desire for knowledge was simply leading me astray from a specialization of some sort.  My experiences over the past several years have altered this belief; I now believe my innate curiosity enables versatility and a strong design sense, two things that I highly value.

While I believe that specialization in a given field and/or domain is in my future (that was my original goal all along), I envision staying “plugged in” to just about everything and anything that interests me.  It’s these interests that will continue to play a key role in my technical and creative development – the combination of which will continue to grow beyond what I’ve accomplished to date.




Inspiration: DRIVE.

Ever since I became interested in concept design in 2006, that interest continues to expand through the work of talented concept artists across the world.  One artist and designer who I have learned from via Gnomon DVDs, and met briefly at the Art Center College of Design, is Scott Robertson.  Late last year, Scott released a new book called “Drive” which includes a wealth of new and unique vehicle concept sketches and renderings.

Here’s the official description from the Design Studio Press site:

DRIVE features Scott Robertson’s very latest vehicle designs intended for the video game space communicated through skillfully drawn sketches and renderings. DRIVE builds upon the success of his prior two vehicle design brooks, Start Your Engines and Lift Off. Featuring four chapters, each representing a different aesthetic theme, Aerospace, Military, Pro Sports and Salvage, conceptual sports cars, big-rigs and off-road vehicle designs are beautifully represented through traditional and digital media sketches, and renderings.

This is definitely one I will be adding to my concept art collection very soon.

Dream the Impossible.

While searching for new information about Honda’s first “sports hybrid” concept vehicle (the CR-Z), I stumbled upon Honda’s new “documentary series” site – appropriately entitled “Dream the Impossible“.

Not surprisingly, the films are designed to show how Honda’s culture is centered around visionary thinking.  Since this is the way I naturally think, I found the films to be very inspiring and the cinematography outstanding.

There are currently three films available for online viewing:

Failure: The Secret to SuccessThe mere thought can paralyze even the most heroic thinkers and keep great ideas off the drawing board.

Mobility 2088We ask some of the great thinkers of our generation how people will get around in 80 years.

Kick Out the LadderWe invite you to discover this inspirational metaphor that has helped impossible dreams come true.

One of the interesting aspects of the site is the rating classification system they employ – using such categories as “Connected” and “Skeptical” to steer the viewer towards one or more films.  While this rating system is perhaps unnecessary given the few films currently available, I think its usefulness will increase as more films are added.

One of the ideas I am considering for a future post (and inspired through the “Failure” film) is the psychology surrounding Thomas Edison’s failures – how does one persevere in the midst of continuous failures?

The Power of Gray.

Starting anything from nothing can be overwhelming enough to not start it at all.  In the art and design world, ideas usually start with a sketch, and if you can’t start a sketch, you’re pretty much stuck.

One of the reasons why artists find it difficult to start on any given piece is because the “canvas” is pure white.  Starting with paper that is already gray (of any shade) can help reduce the “fear” of making a mistake and thus increases the artist’s confidence.

A recurring assignment that I have been working on for the past several weeks in Design Drawing I involves sketching twenty objects (of varying types) using proper perspective, gradation, line weight and shadows.  One of the challenges that I have faced – and will likely face forever – is deciding what to sketch.  Interestingly enough, I’ve found that the shade of the paper helps me feel more confident and allows me to get ideas on paper much more rapidly.

There are times when even lightly shaded paper doesn’t do the trick.  You then have to resort to other methods.

Thumbnail sketches are a second option – i.e. smaller, rapid sketches that convey the general concept.  I’ve found this to be extremely useful for generating many ideas in a short period of time.  Not all ideas will have “merit” but for the remaining that do, it provides a good basis from which to create larger and more refined sketches.

There are times however when you run out of ideas even at the thumbnail “stage”.  Excluding the obvious solution – which may very well be to run out to the library or other research outlet to find new inspiration – one idea is to just draw anything, and I mean ANYTHING.  Random lines, circles, or any other primitive shape.  In a word – scribble! Once you have something down on paper, your brain will naturally start to find “meaning” in what you’ve drawn (more on this concept in a separate post).  Think of this concept as a “creativity primer”.

This technique is actually used by many artists, including Nicolas Bouvier (or “SPARTH” as he is better known in the concept design community).  His book Structura is an excellent compilation of his concepts, many of which were started from random lines and scribbles that were transformed into truly amazing illustrations.  The phrase “building something from nothing” is clearly evident here!

There are of course many other techniques that can help artists and designers increase their idea generation “potential” and give them the confidence to get beyond their fear and START being creative.  This “creativity generator” concept is very interesting to me because I feel it has applicability to many other areas outside of the art and design arena.

If you feel that you are struggling getting started with anything – think of how you can apply the “gray paper” concept to that particular challenge.  What can you do to help you get over your fear of the unknown?  You may not know what is blocking you from moving forward.  Therefore, think about the problem in a different way – think about ways to eliminate the barriers vs. thinking about the underlying activity.  You may find that this technique allows you to go past the tipping point which will allow you to move forward more easily.  If you find another barrier along the way, think of additional ways that can boost your confidence.

Start with the minimum to get the maximum.