Iterative Design & Creativity

The most productive artists I know have a plan in mind when they get down to work. They know what they want to accomplish, how to do it and what to do if the process falls off track.

But there’s a fine line between good planning and overplanning. You never want the planning to inhibit the natural evolution of your work. “

Twlya Tharp, The Creative Habit,  Learn it and Use it for Life.

I had the opportunity the other night to introduce my smart phone/iPhone to a great artist who while not a technologist is a sculptor of  extraordinary vision and talent. We’ve been friends for years and I’ve always been a little worried that my evolution into a visual technologist was a bit of a mystery to her.  She was telling me that she prefers to remain with the tactile and to work with physicality. I totally understood and responded that one of my creative interest is the connection between the digital and the tactile.

I then pulled out my iPhone and showed her Yoko Ono’s twitter feed but also all of the museum apps that I’ve recently downloaded.

For the interested reader – links to some of art & museum iPhone apps:

The Musee de Louvre App
The National Gallery of Art in London App
Yves Klein: With the Void, Full Powers
American Museum of Natural History

We didn’t get a chance to really wrap the conversation since we were at a dinner party but it was really wonderful to see her exploring the tactile qualities of the iPhone and to do so intuitively.  She seemed to be having a WOW! response and I thought… mmm she is going to be thinking about this as a possible sculptural tool as well.

There is something that is both physical and tactile about the way that our technologies are developing and evolving.  I initially went to art school in the 1980’s and of course did not have a vision of the future that is like the one that we live in now. In fact, our options at the time were not as expansive as they are now.

My husband and I just today were talking about how intriguing it is to us that many of our fellow class mates are now design entrepreneurs or working in the field of computer technology.

The creative habits and values that we learned at the Corcoran College of Art and Design seem to fit with this new world and the technology in it.

I propose that we think more and more about the inherent connections between software development, content development and the creative process.

Part of reason for my proposal is the way that technology has evolved and done so iteratively. There is something very akin to the artistic and creative process in the software design process.

A great and supportive client of mine summed up the iterative design methodology.

Design > Build > Test > Repeat

In technology,  this methodology is called rapid prototyping, iterative design, or  agile software development.

It is the process of rapidly visualizing and creating a workable operational software application so that you can see if it in fact it does what you intended it to do.

The technology is then evolved in much the same way that a painting or sculpture is built out over time and refined in successive cycles.

The iterative design cycle like the creative process allows you to see your concept quickly, make changes, adjust and evolve it over time.

For business purposes, this is beneficial because you can evaluate a concept early in the production process and improve it rather than waiting until the lengthy build process has been completed.

I agree with Twlya Tharp. Creativity is a habit that  you can learn and use for life.

Think Creatively!!



Iterative User Interface Design, Paper by Jakob Nielsen

Iterative Design – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia