It’s a funny thing how the universe presents itself. It sees the connections of atoms and molecules before you ever get a chance to realize it. Over a year ago, I came across a link for this new educational experiment, 30 Weeks, and it piqued my interest. It was expanding the roles of the designer from sole maker to founder. As this is something my thesis was focused on and what I continually explore, I was captivated. 30 Weeks, positions itself as “a program that transforms designers into founders … integrating startup principles, practices and experience-based learning methodologies in a highly stimulating and collaborative learning environment.” It seemed to have this grandiose idea of establishing a space for designers who want to become entrepreneurs. It would be something I would totally be up for, but then I quickly resigned myself to believe it wasn’t for me.
As a designer and educator, I am always seeking out ways to connect with the creative community. We, as a culture, are innovative individuals who cease to amaze by how we continued to craft and collaborate on new ideas. It is this enjoyment for learning that I continually search for what’s new, and embrace a lot of the outlets that various friends produce. But for some reason, I didn’t feel good enough or entrepreneurial enough to see myself in what 30 Weeks had to offer.
Fast forward to about a month ago. While, in the beginning, stages of fleshing out an idea with a designer friend, David Soto, we began aggregating resources and inspiration via screenshots, Facebook, Muzli, and Pinterest. You know, gather, gather, gather then synthesize. While researching, I came across the 30 Weeks website again and was reinvigorated by the concept, but once again, I met myself with the reservations that this wasn’t for me. Not sure why, but for some reason, I tend to think my creative endeavors feel more personal and not for a larger audience. Nevertheless, I was glad that designers were being looked upon as the next generation of founders.
I didn’t know it yet, but the universe had plans for me. It knew what it was doing.
Around the same time, what shows up in my Inbox? An email from a photographer friend inviting me to be part of a workshop. The title of the workshop was Visual Improv: Embrace the Chaos, and it focused on anyone who’s having “writer’s” block. It sounded fun! And who doesn’t want to break free from writer’s block from time-to-time. Also, I realized that sometimes I get caught up in life that I don’t give outside stimuli a chance. I needed to stop only focusing on my own creative output and support others. How can I claim to be a part of the larger conversation if I actually don’t participate in it? I couldn’t … So I decided to stop fucking around and practice what I preached. In doing so, one night after work I braved the cold and headed downtown to check it out.
As I reached the address, I didn’t realize it was actually on the side street. (Thank you to the security guard for pointing that out to me and not making me feel like an ass. He probably gets asked that question a hundred times a day.) So I turned the corner and what do I find? A huge red 30 weeks logo painted on the white wall and also etched on the glass door. I was sort of shocked, it didn’t hit me fully, but instantly happier that I decided to go. The location was Hyper Island, a company focused on designing learning experiences and the main facilitators of the 30 weeks program. Scary, right? Something that was deep-rooted in my psyche was actually coming to fruition. OK, so I wasn’t participating in the 30 weeks program, but now, at least, I was in the space, and with some of that insight in the air it had to rub off on me, right?
The creative workshop was a collaboration between my friend, Dan Castro, photographer and founder of Createshops, and Lisa Pertoso, improv-guru and creative facilitator at Hyper Island. Improv techniques such as “yes, and … “ as well as “yes, but…” were used to help loosen up the room.
At the beginning, not many people knew each other, but after a while, we started to become chummy. This fun evening of meeting and greeting was a collaborative and loose way to showcase various types of brainstorming exercises that creatives do. Lisa and Dan stressed, through personal stories, that ideas do not only have to come from hours of painstakingly boring meetings and big-wig decision-making, they can AND should come from interaction, collaboration, and play. The breakout moment was the fast-paced use of Boomerang to stimulate idea generation. These exercises aid in uncovering new solutions and digital nuggets for anything from social media to large campaign strategies, it’s about thinking out of the box, screen, or desktop … whatever you view as limiting. When your ideas are rooted in these areas you will be able to come up with outcomes that are more interesting, timely, and creative. I enjoyed being part of this group think experiment, it gave me perspective. It put me back in a mindset that working together alongside other creatives is the best way to keep myself engaged. I have to seek out new relationships to continue to spark my own creative initiatives.
Looking back, this workshop did what it set out to do. It got my juices flowing again, it put me in contact with others in the community, and it made me feel good enough. I stayed after to help tidy up — and couldn’t stop gloating to both Dan and Lisa about how perfect this experience was. I wasn’t concerned about my own expectations, only excited about the possibilities that would come out of these fun social gatherings. I left energized and with the hope that I can use some of the strategies to help my students, and also craft a more meaningful idea surrounding my own project. Sometimes you need to see, feel, and experience the signs that are all around you. Don’t be so caught up in the routine that you overlook the obvious.