1.3 Good working habits

The purpose of this exercise was to answer a series of questions designed to consider my current working practices and identify gaps or areas for improvement so that these can be factored into my research/practice going forward.

Key words from the brief:

  • Read through the following list of questions and respond to each


What do you need to be creative?

  • Personal time and space
  • Access to materials and sketchbooks
  • A problem that demands a visual response

Are there certain factors that are important for you to develop your work?

  • A clear long term vision of what I want to achieve
  • Clear objectives
  • A plan broken down into chunks of work
  • I notice that I’m really motivated by attending workshops and collaborating and learning with other practitioners
  • I work well within frameworks or terms of reference e.g. reportage, gestural figure drawing, narrative illustration etc.
  • I also respond well to working with structured study guides/study processes. This is both within an OCA context and outside of it

When, where, and how do you work? How might you develop this approach further?

  • When – I work every day and log my time. I find this motivating and excellent for forecasting completion dates. When I’m working in London I draw when I commute and over lunch breaks (when I can). Most of the time I have to do my illustration work around my paid work, although I maximise time over the weekends. I do take time out of paid work to focus on my studies at key points, such as finishing coursework to meet an assessment deadline.
  • Where – wherever I can. I carry an A4 sketchbook and Pelican Fountain Pen with me most of the time. I need to be prepared to take more risks i.e. get over any fear of drawing on busy streets or in front of an audience.
  • How I work – that depends on the demands of the brief.

Given your creative process, how do you best document your work?

  • Because my paid work involves creating or supporting teams to create digital products and features that are useful and usable (and usually involve effective organisation of information), I spend a lot of effort in creating a well structured learning log.
  • This process runs in parallel with the practical work to the extent that it’s hard wired into my creative process. Writing down what I’ve done seems to be a way for me to reflect and process the work.

What kinds of questions do you use to reflect on your work?

  • What went well?
  • What could I differently better?
  • How successfully did the outputs meet the brief?
  • Are there any lessons that I should take forward?
  • Are there any areas that require theoretical or practice research?
  • Are all references correctly stated and added to Paperpile?
  • It would be really helpful to define a definition of done (DOD) for OCA exercises – DOD is defined here.

How important is reflection to your process?

Can you develop new questions or prompts?

How does this reflection help feed back into your making?

  • This should be an iterative circular process. `for example, the lessons from Assignment 6 – Critical review have been captured in Retrospective – Responding to a brief  that in turn form part of the practice research approach that I will use/develop into a series of actions throughout Visual exploration.
  • I need to start explicitly feeding tutor feedback into my research/practice. I do this at the moment but its ad hoc and needs to be more formalised.

How would you describe your creative process?

  • Experimental, iterative, expressive, fun, humourous, intense, consuming

What sort of stages do you go through to initiate and develop your ideas and work?

  • The high level process is:

High-level creative process flow

How important are restrictions to the process?

  • Constraints are important because they form the create framework within which ideas take shape. These could be constraints from a client brief or self-imposed.
  • Getting the right balance is important. Creativity needs to be allowed to express itself without being daunted my too much of a challenge.

Do you start with an idea or proposal, start making and see where it takes you, or work in a different way?

  • Most of the time practical making starts quite early on the back of an initial surge of enthusiasm.I realise the importance of parking these initial expressions but it is often helpful to get first ideas down and parked for later. The approach varies depending on the size and shape of the brief. Open briefs may need some analysis and research to understand what the problem is before any ‘making’ can start.

Do you have any strategies to deal with creative blocks or obstacles?

  • I came across several strategies during Illustration sketchbooks and Responding to a brief but would like to discover more.
  • Tools/processes that I’ve used/are aware of:
  • It’s also helpful to bounce ideas off fellow students. I find the regular Google Hangouts helpful in this respect.

What does experimentation look like to you?

  • Trying new things or new combinations of things without preconception and being prepared to fail. In fact, failure should be celebrated because it indicates I’m taking creative risks.
  • It’s important to ‘ground’ any learning or insights gained through experimentation through reflection and practice. This embeds the insights.
  • I seem to experiment best in workshops and/or in response to working with other people.

Where do you work, what kind of physical spaces do you need?

When do you work, and how best can you structure your time?

How do you draw on inspiration to feed your creativity?

  • I am generally inspired by the works or practices of other artists. Exhibitions, visits to galleries, lectures, workshops and reading are all ways that I can be inspired. Zoom and IGTV are excellent ways to share conversations/experience and learning. I also find Instagram a great way to get inspired and to learn from others.
  • Workshops are an excellent way to be inspired by other people’s work and to push creative boundaries and experiment using new techniques or subjects.


Through this exercise I’ve identified the following areas for improvement/development:

  1. Start to take more risks i.e. get over any fear of drawing on busy streets or in front of an audience. Added to the list of key questions for research
  2. Start to use Paperpile for all research tasks, exercises and assignments. Use a review of this as part of the exit criteria for OCA tasks. This has been added to the DOD here.
  3. Start to use a ‘definition of done’ for OCA tasks, exercises and assignments – This is defined here.
  4. Start to explicitly feed tutor feedback into my research/practice. Added to the list of key questions for research
  5. Start to consider the physical/technical/knowledge constraints verses creative expression balance during each exercise so that I get the maximum value out of doing the work. Same as #1
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