I’ve spent more than 15 years teaching creative-professionals some of the most advanced techniques and technologies behind the latest graphic-design, audio, and video software and hardware. My heart, though has always been more keen on pure design and creativity. Long ago, I recognized the real bottleneck is neither in hardware or software, but in creativity. I call this the ‘blank screen’ syndrome. You get yourself the most powerful computer system with advanced components and peripherals; feature-rich and overwhelming authoring software, only to panic as you stare at an empty digital canvas for several awkward minutes, wondering what to do.
It Can Only Be Caught
At long last, my clients have also started to acknowledge this as their real problem and have started to ask me to focus on deeper and more fundamental disciplines. How to author anything that resonates with aesthetic beauty and creativity is indeed challenging. Teaching others how to do this is exponentially more challenging and exciting. It can’t be taught. It can only be caught.
NewConcept is one of my clients bold enough to move in this direction. I’ve been training and consulting them in technology from time-to-time since circa 1998. A couple of my students have also worked with them on design projects through these years. Finally, in October last year, they invited me to professionally mentor their Research and Design team.
Crystal-Ball of Creativity
The mentorship program covers almost all disciples of design, creativity and media. Some sessions have been devoted to typography and publication-grid and design. Others on color-theory, color-schemes and trends. The team’s also honing its skills in photography and building a large in-house library of photos and images. We’ve covered digital print-production, and several sessions have focussed on the latest trends and techniques in web-design and user-interface. Together with the client-coordination team, we’ve also discussed pre-press and production technology. In almost every session we brainstorm on new and ongoing client projects. Plus, we also set up and fine-tune systems and processes for client-servicing, briefing, and profiling. Once in a while I’ve also delved into new features and technologies in the latest design software.
At a professional level, combining creativity with people-skills is indeed quite exciting. Nurturing talent demands a lot of effort and sensitivity, and every insight shared needs to be backed with solid research and references. I spend hours scouring bookshops, libraries, and online resources to compile my references. In the process, am helping build a growing in-house library of reference, imagery, and color trends.
Am blessed to work with a team of devoted professionals each with several years of experience. So far, they’ve always strived to fulfill their clients’ objectives. Personally though, I wish for them to break out of this mould and take a quantum leap in their creative aspirations. I wish for them to study and absorb the latest and most daring design trends; work on creating their own unique signature style; and usher in a fresh vision on design and creativity in their domain. I want the entire organization to start thinking in terms of design and aesthetics. And, along the way, I want them to win several international awards and recognitions.
We certainly have a long way to go. The inspirations and standards I’ve set for them at times seem impossible. I merely chuckle. The initial six months of hard-drilling have started to bear some fruit. We’ve at least sorted out our color-moods and palettes. The team’s always eager to plug into its own photo bank for imagery. We’ve started to roll out a new branding and identity which may take a few more months to percolate down. Some of the newer web-design projects are significantly far-ahead of their earlier predecessors. The greatest challenge though, is to master typography with all its complex nuances. No trivial feat this, but after several months of trying I’ve finally devised a better pedagogy to achieve this.
Finally, all this work is only possible thanks in turn to all my gurus of design. To learn is to share, and vice-versa.