5.3 What’s your working process?

The purpose of this exercise was to analyse and write down/define my creative process.

Key words from the brief:

  • Reflect on the projects you’ve been involved with up to this point.
  • How would you describe your creative working process?
    • What stages do you go through?
    • How do you undertake research?
    • How and when do you critique your work and what questions do you ask yourself?
    • How do you manage your time?
    • Where are the sticking points?
    • What do you think are your strengths and where do you need to develop further?
    • What’s the process of finishing your work?
  • Write a short outline of your working process. Include flow diagrams if it helps describe how you work.
  • Reflect on your relationship to ‘finishing’ your artwork

High-level creative process map

The following flow diagram shows the ‘ideal’ process I follow, from brief to finished artwork. In reality the approach flexes depending on where the brief is coming from, timeframe, budget etc.

An example of an assignment where I followed this process closely is Assignment 5 – Self directed project.

High-level creative process flow

Each section is broken down into further detail below.

Understand the problem

This phase is all about identifying, analysing, writing down and testing what the problem is that needs to solved.

The problem statement outlines what the problem or opportunity is including metrics/measures/evidence to support the argument where possible. It also includes what is known about the context of the work and any assumptions that are being made. There needs to be enough information to generate a fruitful conversation with the client.

The brief takes the outputs of the problem statement that has been reviewed and updated with the client and formalises it into a proposal ‘to do something’. The important part is the ‘so that’ statement i.e. The client wants this thing so that this happens. This provides success criteria that will determine whether the work is successful.

Understand the problem process steps

Research

Research involves creatively exploring the subjects, ideas and concepts driven by the brief. The objective is to understand more about the problem and to explore and capture anything and everything that may be of interest in finding a solution. The method, breadth and duration of this phase varies hugely depending on the nature of the assignment.

This is an area I have found I am spending more and more time on as my OCA studies progress. I’m cross-referencing more with previous exercises, assignments, research and with tutor feedback.

I’ve also started making more use of primary research such as gallery, exhibition and location visits.

Research

Generate ideas

This phase is about working with the research to generate ideas and concepts that could be used to solve the problem outlined in the brief.

I use various tools and techniques; I find mind mapping a particularly useful process. For me it is difficult to describe this phase apart from it is desirable to keep things flexible and allow ideas, however strange just run their course.

I have started to use different ‘mash-up’ techniques to generate new and interesting ideas and I would like to explore these much further. Examples are the Body, space and narrative workshop and an OCA collaborative project that is currently underway as part of an OCA London initiative called ‘Keeping up momentum’.

This is one area I really need to innovate and start to approach in new/different ways.

Generate ideas

Design

Design is all about shaping concepts into visuals (of some kind) that can be refined/improved through testing.

I enjoy this phase and can see a clear gap between my design thinking/personal voice now and where I’d like it to be.

I am doing some positive things to address this such as developing my drawing and mark making skills through different reportgage and life drawing techniques/approaches. I’m trying to do as much work/practice as I can; sketch-a-day type challenges and the ongoing Pandemic Diary are good examples of this.

This is another area that I’m hoping will be addressed through the remaining OCA course units and tutor support.

Design

Artwork

This is one of my favourite phases. I enjoy the process of finishing work and am quite proficient and comfortable at moving between analogue and digital which is a large part of my practice.

I’m also comfortable is working to predefined output formats although I don’t yet have a great deal of practical experience of this yet.

Artwork

One thing for me to be aware of is not to ‘over finish’ exercises unnecessarily.

Reflect

I’ve added a reflect stage because I believe in learning lessons from exercises in order to continuously improve and make things better for the next assignment. This is particularly important at this point in my development where I need to accelerate my learning and make best use of my OCA course.

Managing my time

My other job is working as a project/delivery manager for organisations doing digital transformations. Part of that involves working with technical, business and creative teams to become more agile in how they work.

Because of this I have a well development set of tools and structure around how I manage and prioritise my time.

These are current examples of the tools I use to track and plan my work.

My main challenge is balancing paid work with OCA work.

Reflections

After analysing my creative process, I’ve identified the following areas that I need to develop.

Generate ideas – Keep exploring new techniques for generating ideas.

Practically this means collaborating with other OCA students as part of ‘Keeping up momentum’. Liz Cashdan (Unit Leader for Art of Poetry) is organising a collaborative workshop bringing together writers and illustrators which sounds really interesting. Unfortunately there was one scheduled in Bristol that got cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic. There’s also a chance that The Drawing Room will run more drawing workshops but dates are unclear.

Design – How do I accelerate the development of my personal voice? What more could/should I be doing?

Write down where I am now and where I might want to get to. I haven’t really done this yet; I just have a strong sense looking at illustrators I admire that I’m some way off really developing and expressing a distinctive voice of my own.

This is something I will specifically address as part of my response to the written Assignment 6.