Images: Potent Portraits of Creative Expression

Images have a way of striking our emotions. Creativity is fueled. Emotions are stoked.

Some folks get upset, angry, sad. Others become calm, excited, enthusiastic, joyful.

Shock, horror, puzzlement, admiration.

Some find peace while others find fear. Art and photography have a way of doing this. Museums and art galleries tend to bring these feelings out in all of us.

These past few months I’ve come across a variety of different images, different ways of conveying creativity. Since that’s what this blog is all about, I thought I’d share  a taste of what I’ve viewed.

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“Pamela’s Voice” in Night Gallery

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, The Guggenheim Museum in New York, and, yes, even Rod Serling’s Night Gallery in your mind are fine examples of artistic and creative expression. Those of you outside the U.S. who may not be familiar with Mr. Serling may find this rather intriguing regarding the paintings featured in his Night Gallery.

 

A few weeks ago I wrote about a summer conference I attended at Houston’s Jung Center on Imagination. As they often do, the Center featured several paintings on display at that time. A few caught my eye for one reason or another. If you’d like more information about these images, please contact The Jung Center.

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“Chaos” – Margaret Wheeler (Grami)

I was struck by the vibrant colors immersed onto a dark background, but with areas of white and yellow stubbornly bursting through. I thought, “Chaos, indeed, but in a quiet, peaceful setting.”

 

 

 

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“Rising” – Kutani Village, Japan – Roy Spann

 

I just thought this was a neat photograph. Then, the more I looked at it, I thought . . . “Hmmmm, umbrellas in variety of colors . . . would make an interesting ad for Travelers Insurance.”

 

 

 

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“Protector” – Tamer Ghoneim

This reminded me of some very cool abstract art that Apple may have for a screen saver, very vibrant in colors – you can’t take your eyes off it. I couldn’t. It’s actually a photo print on metal.

 

 

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Part of the Vanzant Driver presentation, “The Street of Heaven Was As Glass”

 

Vanzant’s discussion was intriguing on “The Visionary Imagination” alongside Jay Wehnert. This illustration was one of several artistic expressions presented that challenged the “boundaries of the imagination.”

These next two images below were not part of the Jung Center’s exhibit, but two very different photographs that caught my eye.

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Iconic Statue on the Notre Dame campus

This first one was sent to me from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN as part of a Thank You for supporting the university.

It captures one of the iconic statues on campus during Winter with the Golden Dome peaking out from the background. Note the areas of snow  acting as “winter eyebrows.”

This second one was an ad I saw in a publication, Arts+Culture, based in Dallas, Texas. It’s one fine publication covering the arts and culture scene in Texas.

The photo immediately captured my attention because I wasn’t sure if I saw what I thought I saw: A young girl “shooting the bird.” Then I read the caption: “A little rebellion now and then is a good thing.” Thomas Jefferson said that and I’m inclined to agree.

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“Nic Noblique – Sculptor” – photo of Azo by her mom, Audra Sewell Noblique.

The ad is for Nic Noblique -Sculptor. When I emailed Nic for permission to run the ad featuring his daughter, he told me the ad had received quite a few comments and he’d gotten good response from it. The photo, taken a few years ago when Azo was seven (she’s now 12), afforded their daughter the opportunity to flip the bird and “get it out of her system.”

I applaud both Nic and his wife Audra, not to mention their daughter, for having the guts to run an ad like this, and Arts+Culture Magazine for having the maturity to approve it for publication.

Art is a very subjective medium. Advertising can be as well. Both can be perplexing. As varied as our society is today, so are the images we confront.

Kudos to the creatives and artists who continue to push the envelope with taste and style and who entice our imagination and intrigue our minds.

And a thank you to those museums and galleries who think enough of the contributions to our collective, creative universe to exhibit and publish these works.

To the creators, go the spoils.

To the viewers, go the enjoyment.

To everyone, onward. Create!

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Cookie Monster & Siri: Cute Combo

OK. Time to sit back and take a chuckle break!

Some of you may have seen this on TV by now but I doubt you’ve seen the “extra” footage.

His outtakes are almost as cute as he is. Oh, the things celebrities put up with!

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Courtesy of re/code and Apple via YouTube

Could This Be the “iYacht”?

New Photos of Steve Jobs’ Yacht

American Luxury Magazine (from which you can view additional photos) recently sent out an e-newsletter featuring a variety of super-luxurious items. Among them was a select group of photographs featuring Steve Jobs’ yacht. Yet again, creativity and innovation done the Apple way.

A 256-foot yacht designed for the late Steve Jobs was captured in numerous photographs as it sailed in to the British Virgin Islands.

Steve Jobs Yacht

The yacht, called Venus, was designed by Philippe Starck. Jobs reportedly commissioned the building of the yacht after sailing on his friend Larry Ellison’s Yacht. The yacht was not finished until 2012, nearly a full year after Jobs’ passing.

The yacht has six bedrooms and features high-tech automation systems. The exterior is crafted from aluminum and steel and looks strikingly similar to an Apple product.

The yacht is now owned by Jobs’ widow Laurene Powell Jobs.

(Photo credit: Beth Colt, photographer and owner of Woods Hole Inn, @woodsholeinn on Instagram) 

Innovation: There’s Apple, Samsung and the Rest of Us

We hear it probably more than we should. Is it becoming an overused word or has it attained that status yet?

Yes, I believe “innovation” is an overused word. And, it’s applied by folks, some of whom should know better, who think every creative endeavor is innovative.

I wish that were the case. It’s not.

OK, reality check time.

According to Wikipedia, “innovation” is the application of better solutions that meet new requirements, unarticulated needs, or existing market needs. This is accomplished through more effective products, processes, services, technologies, or ideas that are readily available to markets, governments and society. The term innovation can be defined as something original and, as a consequence, new that “breaks into” the market or society.

So, the next time you change that blue logo to green and make it larger (along with a change of font, of course), you’re not being innovative. It may still be questionable as to how creative you’re actually being.

Of course, innovation goes far beyond a logo or font change. Today’s innovative spheres are super competitive. Just look at the escalating war between Apple and Samsung.

In a recent article by the Associated Press in the Houston Chronicle, the two are back in court this week, accusing each other of stealing ideas and features on their smartphones. Litigation could lead to more expensive devices for the consumer and slow the overall pace of mobile innovation.

The Chronicle article cites Rutgers Law School professor Michael Carrier as saying, “What’s even more worrisome for the effect on innovation is the impact on small innovators. Apple and Samsung can afford this litigation. The next upstart cannot.”

Apple and Samsung are in a league of their own. They share that “super league” with the Googles, Amazons and Microsofts.

For the rest of us on this planet, how should we approach innovation? What should our mindset be?

Well, according to a creative team leader at Google, one should only start looking to innovate when:

– one has totally nailed every best practice and has tapped out on what that can deliver,
– one has an insight to justify an innovative approach.

Otherwise, he says, what one ends up making is gimmickry, inevitably destined for the digital landfill.

One thing is for certain:  We cannot stop innovating, thinking differently, and, yes, counting our failures (they will come, ya know).

So, what’s your take? 

Agree? – Disagree? – Thoughts? – Comments?

 

Apple’s New Spaceship Campus: Innovation being rewritten

If you haven’t seen or read about Apple’s proposed new campus in Cupertino, CA, this “sneak peek” via Wired magazine will give you something to contemplate. Recently Cupertino city officials gave the go-ahead on development of this new campus.

This blog is partially about innovation and all things creative. When I read this article and looked over the sketches of the soon-to-be “Apple Campus 2,” I began to think of new versions of how that iWord could be applied.

Quoting from Wired, “At this point, there’s a good chance you’ve seen pictures of Apple’s proposed new headquarters — a 2.8-million-square-foot spaceship parked in a verdant man-made forest in the northeast corner of Cupertino. Since the first dozen or so renderings trickled out in 2011, however, we haven’t gotten a much better sense of what all the new campus will entail or what it will be like to work there.

“Until now.

“Apple may be known for its secrecy, but buried in Cupertino’s municipal archive is a wealth of detail on the project — including more than 20 previously unseen renderings of the new campus.

Sketch of Apple's new HQ

Image: City of Cupertino

“Seen for the first time is the space port-like entrance to the development’s subterranean parking lot, a cavernous cafeteria that spills into the grassy landscape beyond, and the glass pavilion that will serve as the entrance to Apple’s new underground auditorium — a secure lair where press will gather for future product launches.

“In short, these documents give us the most complete picture of Apple’s new home yet, a campus that Steve Jobs himself thought had a shot at being ‘the best office building in the world.'”

Progress would suggest that more buildings will be developed across the country with the same environmental and creative foresight the folks at Apple are showing with this design.

Architects and designers should never feel constrained about introducing new elements into the work place. Yes, money will always play a significant role, but isn’t it more important to develop an environment that is not only welcoming to Mother Nature, but inspiring to employees (and stockholders).

As you’re nodding “yes,” and you should be, keep in mind that society needs to do more of this. It’s not always about the bottom line.

Now, here’s a peek at the forthcoming mothership. Enjoy!

The iPod, iPhone, iPad, and now . . . the iDesk?

Since this blog talks about and attempts to showcase creativity and innovation, the following piece came to my attention via a newsletter from American Luxury Magazine. Give it a read sometime.

I couldn’t resist sharing this. It’s really cool and yet hard to believe it’s just a concept. For now.

Mac|Life (another good publication) has come up with the iDesk, a desk where much of the normal clutter on your desk will be replaced by apps and widgets. It is essentially a huge iPad.

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According to Mac|Life, the entire top of the desk is a touchscreen that can sync with all your iOS devices by just placing them on its surface.  You will have the option of using a digital touchscreen mouse and keyboard or sticking with a traditional keyboard and mouse.  The iDesk will have apps available for everything you need, from setting reminders or marking dates in a calendar, to posting updates on Facebook or sending out emails.

Custom desktop themes would allow you to give your desk a classic look or  you can work on the water.idesk-concept-by-mac-life-water

The iDesk is still just a concept, but  considering the Microsoft Surface windows-based touch-tables have been available for awhile now,  it could be hitting Apple Stores sooner rather than later.

So what do you think? Will this be something to which consumers would be attracted?

Innovation, at times, can be fickle. So what? Kudos to the Mac|Life gang for bringing this to light.

Depending on the price (if it ever gets that far), this reminds me of something  appropriate for the Neiman-Marcus Christmas catalog.

When we fail to fail, we fail. Creativity suffers.

In his recent talk before the Ad Age Small Agency Conference, Dan Wieden, co-founder of Wieden & Kennedy in Portland, OR, stressed the importance of failure, or, rather, the freedom to fail.

Talking about his agency’s mantra, “fail harder,” Mr. Wieden referenced the significance of one making three collossal mistakes before moving on to more fruitful creativity. He mentioned how mistakes are too often seen as marks of stupidity, instead of building blocks of knowledge.

I know, not everyone feels they have the flexibility to make ONE mistake, let alone three or more. That’s a scary thought!

Consistent barriers seem to be erected that prevent us from experiencing failure. Some are self-imposed, while others are insinuated by organizations and companies with which we work or perform services. Time to fail is rarely included in the timeline for producing most projects.

Everyone wants results now, not three days from now (at least, that’s how it feels at times). Yet, one must be diligent in expressing doubt that a hurried or tight timeline would include time to fail.

In today’s fast-paced business climate, failure doesn’t seem to be tolerated. “We don’t have time to fail,” seems to be the business mantra. Ah, therein lies the rub.

When it comes to creativity, those of us practicing it everyday don’t seem to be allowed to think about failure. Yes, I admit it – I did not achieve perfection on the first draft of my _________ (fill in the blank with design, article, illustration, photograph or whatever).

I “failed.”

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Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”

That’s hogwash (technical term)!

Companies like Nike, Apple, Pixar and even others much smaller in size, openly embrace failure and incorporate it into their systems.

Those who don’t engage creativity everyday, seem to think that it’s some commodity one can easily switch on or off at will. This attitude does a disservice to those involved in practicing the craft as well as for whom they are practicing it.

It’s unrealistic to ignore failure. It’s unrealistic not to schedule time for its possible appearance. It’s reality that we need to learn from the process to improve upon what we just created. We need to make time to do that, and then move on.

The other reality: Will anybody really care?