Slowly but surely sorting photos from my Iceland visit last November. Man, what a magical place.
This is Jökulsárlón (or ‘glacier lagoon’) - no photo can really capture how incredible it was being in a boat in this lagoon surrounded by these icy beasts.
Fail fast and fail quickly. A key lesson for week two of the fellowship was the importance of iteration, experimentation and failure. It’s quite liberating to do things that are, well, bad right off the bat, to get those ideas out of the way and fail quickly in order to realize that those ideas don’t work.
In many jobs I’ve had, you’re often expected to create a perfect design/idea/whatever in the first go. You fear that if your first attempt isn’t perfect, those above you might doubt your abilities and it becomes a direct reflection on your personal taste and skill. This fear inhibits us from experimentation and reiterating to uncover the best solutions, and that’s an unfortunate outcome for those that ultimately suffer: the user.
From my Medium post Real Fellowship: Week Two, Or: Why I Embrace Failing Fast and Failing Quickly.
When I moved back to Canada from London six months ago, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do next, let alone how to get there, wherever there was. I’d just spent an awesome two years working for Microsoft’s Soho Productions studio in London, doing motion graphics design for interactive projects on Xbox + Kinect, including Kinect Sesame Street TV and Upload Studio. It was an incredible learning experience and I worked with some truly talented people, but it was time to return home (mostly thanks to my Visa expiration…). More importantly, it was time to re-evaluate and really figure out where I wanted to steer my career.
Read more about my first week of the Real Fellowship in Montreal.
I grew up in northern (ish) Ontario, Canada in a town called Huntsville. Not the smallest, but small enough to have a Main Street, one high school, a mall with a Zellers and about 10 other stores, that sort of thing.
Needless to say, there weren’t many shopping options for “hip” (read: nerd) teens at the time. I’d spend hours perusing online stores like FredFlare, Threadless and Karmaloop, always dismayed to find they wouldn’t ship to Canada, or would warn of duty fees that would make me clutch at my minimum-wage dollars for dear life.
So in grade ten, I set out to do something about it. I dreamt of starting my own online store so that I could stop googling “Where to buy Paul Frank clothing in Canada”. And so, I taught myself the basics of Flash and hacked together this little site that admittedly had no chance of being a functional site… let’s just call it a ‘prototype’. Finding this project again feels a bit like unearthing a time capsule. The colours, the (excessive number of) fonts, the shapes, the products - the checkered Vans, the reborn Adidas Superstars, the graphic tees, ah the early 2000s.
And then I discovered eBay. Paul Frank tees and Nike Dunks were finally all mine.
The Curse of Competence
I’ve been on a bit of a ‘creative self-help’ kick lately. Books. TED talks. MOOC courses. Blogs. You name it, I’ve been eating it up.
But my book du jour is Creative Confidence, by IDEO founders (and brothers) Tom and David Kelley. One thing that really stuck out for me was the idea of the “curse of competence” - tasks that we can successfully perform but gain no real fulfillment from. It’s easy to continue along this path. Too easy.
Don’t get ready - get started!
I started to learn Processing early last year. I went to a workshop in London where I was living at the time. I bought Daniel Shiffman’s Learning Processing. I read Processing blogs. I looked at code examples.
Yet I didn’t build anything for months. I was paralyzed by the unknown and the fear of failure. Not knowing if I’d ever be able to create something as good as the inspiring work I’d seen online (by the likes of, wouldn’t you know it, FITC 2014 speakers like Kyle McDonald, GMUNK and Greg Borenstein). Of course, it has taken them years of practicing their craft to get to where they are.
The best kinds of failures are quick, cheap and early.
While my months of reading had helped me with the fundamentals of Processing, I’d failed to realize that I didn’t need perfect project ideas to get started. Instead, I’d need to start small - do quick experiments, keep iterating, and eventually something would come of it. I’m excited to see FITC 2014 feature a number of presentations on this very topic - failing…to succeed!
Experiment to learn.
My initial ideas for the FITC Women’s Initiative - some pretty epic data visualizations - were admittedly much too big for the amount of time (and skill) I had. While I could have fallen back on creating something in Photoshop or After Effects, tools I use nearly everyday, I wanted to use Processing to experiment and to work outside of my comfort zone.
Creativity requires cycling lots of ideas.
Initially, I spent too much time trying to work out an idea that was pretty well doomed for failure. I learned a lot from these initial failures and endless Google searches (hello future tutorials… once I figure out the solutions).
But I should have been testing out a bunch of quick ideas. So, I took a few steps back and tested out more and more (relatively) quick, simple prototypes, iterating and iterating, and ended up with something … that works!
Here, I’ve taken the themes for the FITC 2014 presentations, and visualized the number of talks on each theme, represented by circle size.
click for next theme & mouse over the center of each circle to see the number of talks relating to that theme. Inspire wins!
Sparking Creative Energy
FITC encapsulates many of the strategies one can use to boost creative confidence: experimenting with experiences, surrounding yourself with a supportive network, exploring open innovation communities and embracing continuous learning. I want to go to FITC to network, to meet like-minded individuals from around the whole, to expose my brain to new innovative technologies - all to build on my creative confidence and ability to innovate.