Thursday, July 22, 2010

Designing With Intention vs Tension in Design

"rules are meant to be broken" has been a motto that works for me... umm... somewhat. but about a million years ago in another life i learned a rule that should never be broken. the (so called) first rule of dance is to move with intent. in other words, find your intention, your connection to the driving concept behind the choreography, so that you can clearly project it to your audience. dancers are limited to three tools: their bodies, the music and costume. the body is the only tool that a dancer is in control over and intention is the soul of their expression. 
i nearly fell off my chair when i read scoutie girl's "we scout wednesday" posting on handmade vs homemade and why it doesn't matter what you choose to call it. what matters is the intention behind it. talk about coincidence! my planned post for the day also involved the importance of intention. how does "the first rule of dance" apply to design you may ask? well...what's behind a design? is it an exercise in stretching the maker's technical reach? an exercise in moving stock? working with a set palette of pantone colors chosen by a group of elderly men that we are all beholden to?
those are all valid reasons for design...i suppose. in dance we call these exercises technique and virtuosity. they are not to be confused with the heart and soul of dance. the joy of it. with art and magic. technique exists to train the muscle memory to respond in the correct way when called upon. virtuosity is a testament to how high you can reach - how far you are able to stretch to attain perfection. i think of art as a transformation of materials or concepts into a finished work - something from nothing. 
as amazing as virtuosity is, it doesn't necessarily make you feel what the dancer is feeling. it is tension for the sake of aesthetic perfection. your story, your emotions, your truth are as important as the quality of your product. the why of it needs to be put out there. do you make to survive? let me see how hungry you are through your work. do you love what you do? show me the love.

call me eccentric but i fully believe that what you feel and think while you are making your art or crafting your wares comes through in the final product. i no longer seek to project my intention on stage but i do try to project it onto my work. every piece that comes out of my studio is made for a queen in my mind. i make my intended client the most important person in the world the whole time i hold their piece in my hands. i am in love with the materials themselves and make the manufacturing process a joyful one - never, ever do i let thoughts or troubles of the day intrude. 

i want you that joy to  be apparent in my work when you receive it. to be thrilled with it no matter how big or small. that is my intention at least. maybe the answer for me is finding the right balance of constantly reaching for dynamic tension - stretching for technical perfection while maintaining the soul's intention.   

photo credits: howard schatz


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  2. Beautiful and interesting post! It's funny of the things I like most about art is the un-intended. I think some of the medium and forms of art that I like best are those that are not totally under my control. My scribbleprints are first created by just that...scribbling (or, in other words, moving the pencil or pen so fast that it can not be completely controlled). Whether I scribble with an intent for a particular shape (a tree or a cross, for example), or just scribble to create something random, every movement of the pen is not precisely controlled. Then I take those scribbles and add precision to them...meticulously fill them in with a deliberate controlled hand, scan them and change their colors online, use the patterns to fill new shapes, and find what "accidental" patterns I can discover in what originally was random or intended for something else.

    I like the randomness of water colors too (though as yet I don't sell these). My favorite method of water color is to create a shape from colorless water them dab colors into it. The result is extremely imprecise and the final artwork is often far from the original intent. But, I suppose part of the original intent is not just the image I want to capture but the idea of discovering something unplanned in the process.


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