In the September 2014 edition of Fright Radio I discuss creativity, in particular my personal philosophy of creativity and present five different exercises that can help you boost your creative level and generate fresh new designs for Halloween projects.
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Exercise One: Round About
This is a really fun exercise you can use to come up with some very original designs.You will need a few people to make this work…ask a couple of friends, or if you have kids they are perfect for this exercise and will probably have fun. When I teach
kid’s workshops I often use this exercise to loosen them up and help them generate ideas.
Let’s say you have three people playing this game. Have everyone sit around a small table and give each person two pieces of drawing paper and something to draw with…be it a marker, crayon or pencil.
Let’s pretend we are designing monsters…when you are ready to start each person quickly draws one part of a monster onto their piece of paper. What that person draws is completely up to them, they can start with the eyes, nose, mouth or ears. Once they have drawn a part of the monster they pass the paper to the person to their left.
The next person takes that piece of paper and adds another part of the monster and passes it on. This exercise works best when it’s done quickly, don’t think too much, just draw.
Keep the process going until each piece of paper has a completed monster.
This exercise is beneficial from the standpoint that each monster incorporates different points of view…by having each person adding to the design you get a mix of styles and trains of thought.
Keep repeating this exercise until you have a hefty stack of designs and then review each one and single out the ones that strike you as being very fresh, original and cool.
Number Two: FACEBOOK
The second exercise is to make a Facebook. No, I’m not talking about the Mark Zuckerburg social media giant, but rather a simple notebook filled with categorized photos clipped from magazines.
This is not my idea, back in college I took a theatrical make-up class and the instructor required us to make what he called a “Facebook.”
The concept is easy, get your hands on a bunch of old magazines.
Gather different titles such as Entertainment Weekly, People, Us…Glamour magazines, Men’s Fitness Magazines, National Geographic, Time, etc.
To make a facebook get a three ringed binder and fill it with blank sheets of plain paper.
Next cut interesting photos from the magazines and glue them into a notebook putting each picture into a specific category.
My facebook has categories such as old age, glamour, caricature, different ethnicities, expressions, gore, animal, facial hair, robotic …the list goes on and on.
Keep the book handy and the next time you are creating something where you need a visual reference you can grab your book.
The facebook is a continual process, it doesn’t take a lot of time, an hour or so a week clipping and cutting photos will yield a valuable tool in your prop building arsenal.
Exercise Three: Field Trip
This is an easy way to generate new ideas and discover things that you never knew existed.
When trying to come up with a new concept or design escape your surroundings for a bit and take a quick field trip. The very act of breaking up your routine is a creative shot in the arm.
Where do you go on your field trip? The location isn’t really that important, the important part is that you are up and moving in search of a creative solution to a problem.
Obviously if you were designing tombstones a trip to a nearby cemetery would seem logical, but a trip someplace less obvious might be more effective. A trip to the home improvement store where you can view different sample of stone, brick or cement just might lead to a unique idea. A trip to some decaying abandoned buildings my trigger a thought that could lead to a fresh new concept.
A trip to an obvious place isn’t necessarily the best choice.
In 2007 I was in the produce section of a grocery store and saw a celery root. For those not familiar with celery root it’s sort of an ugly, bumpy vegetable with a sick green color. That celery root was the trigger or the inspiration for three witches built that year. The color and the texture were enough to get me going.
Again it doesn’t matter where you go.
Toy store, museum, library, park, garden or gravel pit….if you make a trip with the sole purpose of being inspired it will work. Don’t forget to bring your camera so you can record your discoveries.
Exercise: Four: 20/20
The fourth idea is a solo endeavor and a good way to get your brain to quickly give you a lot of ideas.
For this example let’s say we are designing a new pumpkin concept.
On a sheet of paper draw a pumpkin silhouette. Now either make 20 copies or trace the design onto 20 different sheets of paper
Using your favorite drawing medium…pen, marker, crayon or pencils quickly draw the pumpkin design into each silhouette…do this quickly, don’t spend more than 20 seconds on each design. Speed is your creative friend here.
Once you finished the first drawing toss it aside and grab the second piece of paper. Go as fast as you can until you have sketched 20 different pumpkin designs.
This exercise works because your brain is more concerned about the speed aspect rather than the design aspect. You will find that after completing the first couple designs you switch to autopilot where you are no longer concentrating on designs which is actually a beneficial thing.
After you completed the 20 different designs take your time and look at each one. Out of 20 different designs you will probably find several that intrigue you, and chances are you probably won’t even remember creating the design because your brain was more concerned with the speed aspect.
NOTE: For these examples I sponged an orange pumpkin shape on a piece of paper, it helps to keep your sketches small due to the fact that you only have 20 seconds to complete each design.
Exercise: Five: Mix n’ Match
The final exercise is similar to the old felt boards or Colorform playsets that were popular years ago.
Lets say that we want to design a fresh new zombie concept, this method will allow you to actually create thousands of different zombie designs quickly.
Start with a simple white piece of paper and using a black marker draw the silhouette of zombie head.
Now on a second piece of paper draw a bunch of different eyes that could work with the zombie silhouette you drew…make at least five different sets and cut out the individual eyes.
Do the same thing and make a number of different noses, and mouths, and ears….remember the more elements you have the more possible combinations for your zombie design.
Now create a zombie face by placing two eyes, a nose and mouth into the zombie outline.
Keep everything but swap out the nose for a totally different look.
Experiment by changing the angle of the eyes or angle of the mouth.
You can get as elaborate as you like with your illustrations,and even if drawing isn’t your thing this exercise works to give you a lot of different possibilities in terms of design.
Keep your digital camera on hand so as you mix and match each new design you can take a picture for future reference.
Note: For these examples I made ten sets of eyes, noses and mouths. Each element was created using a black marker and shaded with a pencil. There are 91,390 different combinations using this set of eyes, noses and mouths. This can be a pretty powerful tool in designing your next Halloween prop.
Five simple exercises you can do to help boost the creative levels of your designs.. Thank you for taking the time to listen and I will be back next month for the October show…until then enjoy the transition from summer into fall. I’m Scott Stoll for FrightRadio.