Tools, Not Rules: Ideas About Creative Collaboration With Travis Nielson

The past month has been a busy one for the In/Visible Talks team. Despite the lively behind-the-scenes activities in preparation for January’s highly anticipated design conference, we were excited to host our second Salon with CreativeLive. The night centered around a keynote talk from a friend of the project, Travis Neilson. The sold out event took place at CreativeLive, a vibrant space in the Design District of San Francisco. After warming up with some time to connect with each other over cold drinks, Travis took the floor to share his experience and ideas about creative collaboration.

Travis takes questions from the audience after his talk

By day Travis Nielson is a designer at Google, who works on the crisis response search team, by night he is a co-host and creator of Late Nights with Trav and Los, where he and his best friend Carlos talk explore new ideas for creative professionals. At the salon, Travis shared that the concept of the show is that it’s just two best friends sitting around the table, having a conversation, in person. It’s an experience that is becoming increasingly rare as the digital realm infiltrates our everyday lives. At the conception of their podcast, Travis wanted to protect the sanctity of their in-person experience by setting a rule: “We can never google anything while we’re on the air.”

Hear Travis talk about how the idea behind the rule evolved into a tool, and how the tool enhanced their creative collaboration on his most recent podcast: the talk itself.

A big thank you to everyone who attended, participated and helped make the event successful!

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Culture Meets Creativity: Spreading Joy and Peace in the City of London

Commissioned by Culture Mile,  In/Visible Talks 2018 Speaker, Morag Myerscough and her long-time collaborator, Luke Morgan, recently unveiled a two-part installation that brings a vivid splash of color to the ancient heart of London’s Financial District. Unveiled in July of 2017, JOY & PEACE is a self-proclaimed “response to the fractious times we are all living in.”

“We felt strongly that we wanted to make a piece of work that was full of positivity, hope, strength and the power to bring people together with joy in the heart of London for Culture Mile,” say Myerscough and Morgan.

The installations feature hand-painted and vibrant geometric styles created by Myerscough and her team – whose work frequently incorporates patterns created in workshops with local schools. Both pieces also utilize a set of six symbols: the Heart, representing love; the Globe, representing society; the Sun, representing joy; the Eye, representing wide open; the Star, representing energy; and the Flower, representing peace.

Spreading The Love

Spanning a total of 315 feet, the first half of the installation – titled JOY – begins at the opening of a Parking Garage and meanders through the commercial district, connecting with PEACE, which is set in a historic garden.

“Creating a place for people to gather, relax and socialize with the pavilion being the centre piece and stage for the performances and activities which have never been seen in this garden before.”

JOY & PEACE will be open to the public till the end of October as part of London’s new ‘Culture Mile,’ an initiative backed by the City of London Corporation. Where culture meets creativity, Culture Mile brings together local design and culture institutions like the Barbican, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London Symphony Orchestra and the Museum of London to promote the City as a destination for culture and creativity.

If you’re lucky enough to experience JOY & PEACE in person, be sure to share your favorite part of the gigantic installation with us on Instagram or Facebook.

Five Questions with Tim Murray: Creative Director at Mozilla

Tim Murray, Mozilla’s Creative Director, made waves when his team announced their plans to buck the traditional identity design process by opening it up to feedback from the community. Under Tim’s leadership the Open Design Initiative was launched. The initiative tested the limits of creative collaboration and working in a radically transparent way.

Mozilla’s brand refresh was hugely successful in incorporating external input via open source principles. It was also a lesson to millions that ‘branding’ is about much, much more than just a logo.

Here’s the final result of Mozilla’s innovative creative collaboration:

We’re lucky to have Tim as part of our 2018 speaker lineup and had the opportunity to sit down and talk with him about his personal creative process and history.

What is your relationship to the creative process?

“I start by establishing positioning and personality characteristics at the brand or campaign level so that everyone from business partners to designers shares a common language and criteria for review.

From there – for individual initiatives – I set up my creative teams to do their best work by helping to interpret the problem clearly, shaping the sandbox for exploration, and discovering and talking about existing benchmarks.”

How does that usually pan out?

“We sketch or scrap a few – usually bad examples for how the problem might be solved – which helps everyone realize that we can do better. During the design, writing, or video-editing process, I ask a lot of questions that begin with ‘what if’ and ‘have you considered’ keeping an eye out for things that feel fresh. Mostly I try to get out of the way, trusting the team as experts in their field – sometimes I’m successful at this.”

How or where to you find inspiration?

“I like to eavesdrop on how people talk about pain points in their lives related to the product or service I’m working on – there’s so much inspiration to be gleaned from unique ways people talk about their lives – I’m a terrible dinner companion.” Also, “I’m inspired by natural forms and the beauty of growth and decay.”

What is one of your biggest creative challenges?

“Finding peaceful time to recharge.”

When did you first realize you needed to be in a creative field?

“In third grade, Sister Mary Catherine chose a collage I’d made for an art show. I remember being disappointed that she didn’t select a different artwork that I thought was much better. It was my first realization that I had a discriminating eye.”

BONUS ROUND: What’s on your desk?

Under the green glow of the exit sign over my head is a collection of new Mozilla business card designs and a Valentine’s Day card from my son.

Lock in Early Bird prices for In/Visible Talks 2018 when you checkout by 9/30/17 – Learn more about Tim Murray’s talk as part of our 2018 conference when you sign up for our newsletter

The Subtle Art of Breaking Through Creative Blocks

A Familiar Space

We’ve all been there, feeling stuck & uninspired, yet expected to produce – so we just keep cranking away, spinning our wheels and looking for a solution by simply staring harder at the problem.  It’s a familiar space all artists, designers, photographers and any other professional in creative space can simply describe as the state of being ‘stuck’ – but best design books can totally help

As it turns out, even the most creative people sometimes need a little nudge of encouragement – as proven by these books. Here are seven books that have helped us combat creative frustration. They’re also some of the inspiration that lead us to us to create In/Visible Talks.

The  List

1. The Shape of Design By Frank Chimero

2. Do Disrupt: Change the status quo. Or become it. By Mark Shayler

3. Failed It!: How to turn mistakes into ideas and other advice for successfully screwing up by Erik Kessels

4. Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality by Scott Belsky

5. Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite by Paul Arden

6. The War of Art Steven Pressfield

7. Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration by Ed Catmull, Amy Wallace

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Our Inaugural In/Visible Salon

A few weeks back we hosted our first In/Visible Salon at Noise 13 with colleagues from Adobe, Mozilla, Pinterest, Google, among others. After a brief introduction by conference founders Arianna Orland and Dava Guthmiller, the conversation coalesced around the creative process and the role it plays in our personal and professional lives.

To stoke dialogue and get people talking we placed posters throughout the event designed to invite attendees into a shared conversation. We asked questions like “What’s your favorite color?” No surprise: a lot of black, “What was your first job?” Somewhat of a surprise: birthday party magician, and “Who is one of your heroes and why?” Biggest surprise: Sister Corita Kent, silk screening nun. ‘Nuff said.

The most talked about the question of the evening was “When did you first realize you needed to be in a creative field?” Check out some of the responses below.

We love this question because on an individual level the answer offers a glimpse into each person’s unique creative center. For the group, reading these answers as a collection reminds us that everyone’s path is different and there’s no right or wrong way to begin. John Cage, the late experimental composer and artist tell us “Begin anywhere.” And with his wise words at our backs, we at the In/Visible Project will continue fostering an open dialogue about the creative process.

Join us on September 13th from 6-9pm on the roof of CreativeLive for the next In/Visible Salon. Special guest Travis Neilson will share his perspective on tackling the ideation process by adding tools (skills, experiences, rituals) and not rules (procedures, limits). Libations, light bites and a rich conversation about the creative process will be provided. Ticket sales will be limited to the first 50 guests, get yours here.