My blood is made of rainbows.

Yesterday's post for The Wheelhouse came out of a creative exercise the design team had as homework at work a few weeks ago. I decided to write the saga about how it came to be, because it was much more of a saga than usual and I am more pleased with it than I usually am with things.

Our whole team enrolled in the class "Design as Idea" on Skillshare, which is a take on the process of creating a self-portrait. The first directive was to "do research" about oneself with the objective being to dig up something truthful and unique—because this particular theory is that starting with a statement that is interesting will lead to a piece that is interesting. Instead of drawing yourself, you draw the statement, and {ta-da!} you have an interesting self-portrait.

There seemed, at first, to be a fatal flaw that rendered this process impossible: there is not much about me that can not probably be also true about someone else, making the idea of interestingness via exclusivity unachievable. But I was not opposed to the concept-first theory, and so to carry along I lowered the bar and hunted for what seems to distinguish me from the small subset of humanity that I have personally met. Much more feasible. Easy actually—it is my excessive fascination with color. But "I love color" wound up failing the task at hand: it did not produce any mental images that seemed interesting or satisfyingly representative of myself.

However, thinking through the implications of being a color-fiend helped the process along.  Because I love color, I don't quite fit into the mold or perception of the typical creative. At least not among the ones I've met. Most people I know seem to have gone into design or art because they are what the layman would call "right brained"—they're creative, unconventional, imaginative thinkers. I am not. I am so left brained my right brain probably packed up and wandered out of my head for lack of attention years ago, leaving tumbleweeds in his wake. I wound up in the artist bucket because I would sit at my desk for endless hours drawing and drawing and drawing—not because I was "creative"—but because I liked watching the paper change colors. I liked figuring out how they interacted with each other, how they were made, how they behaved in the real world compared to how they behaved on paper. I had a highly technical interest. And so now, I am a technically-minded person in a creatively-minded field. Which is sometimes highly advantageous and sometimes highly maddening. And there, finally, was a tension that could perhaps fuel an interesting image.

So how does one mush all that extravagant philosophical reflection down into something useful? To be honest, I cheated a bit. Because I think in pictures, I was simultaneously tossing around visuals for all this in my head. I tend to symbolize the concept of color with rainbows, but left-brain finds rainbows to be an offensively unacceptable representation of himself. What about the love part? A heart, duh. Oh man, it's getting worse; left-brain is going to pack up and leave too, and I don't blame him. But let's add in the concept of being uncreative. What if it's a technical diagram of a heart? YES THERE IT IS. My heart runs on rainbows? But my heart doesn't really run on rainbows. There are definitely rainbows in there though. So I settled on "My blood is made of rainbows."

It's got both some deliberate & unintentional issues—I decided to round out the muscle and flare the blood vessels to make it more aesthetically pleasing {which, to my amusement, led nurse-mom to diagnose it with cardiomyopathy}, and my digital painting skillz as displayed here clearly still need some development that's only going to come with time and practice. But it's still probably one of my favorite things that I have made in a long time. I was dubious about the whole exercise at first, but it wound up being pretty fruitful. The most fun part though, was that my colleagues came to show and tell with a whole pile of super intriguing and awesome work that was really neat to see.

1 comment:

  1. Amanda, I came over from TGC, I enjoyed the post and illustrations, now I've spent like 2 hours here -
    looking and reading... I've been smiling all the way, so I just wanted to say "Thanks for sharing!"