Is Reading a Creative Process?


When you sit down and read a book — a novel specifically — are you being creative? This is a question worth debating. On one hand, you aren’t really creating anything. There is nothing visible to show for it when you close the book and put it aside. On the other hand, the ideas you are getting from the book, the visuals you are weaving and constructing in your mind, are all intangible materials that can be applied to your creations.

With that being said, is watching a television show being creative? Is listening to an album being creative? Is watching a hockey game being creative? Where does one draw the line between entertainment and creative research?

For me, the creative process is an intent-driven process. You are present with all that is happening. You aren’t simply walking through an art gallery, but you are stopping to admire each painting and sculpture along the way. You are processing it.

If a novel, a television show, or an album is being consumed with the same frame of mind as one simply moving through it as quickly as possible, as a means to an end, then it is not a creative act. However, if one pauses occasionally and consider why the writer, cinematographer, or artist chose to use this word, this lighting, or that note, then what is being done is perhaps the most important aspect of being a creator.

Yes, I consider reading a creative process, but not everyone does. Some will simply read for pleasure. A filmmaker will watch a movie and consider it a part of the creative process while a mere civilian will watch a movie as a means to escape.

There is this hallway and you get to walk through it at your own speed. That is how I see a piece of work. What you get out of that experience is up to you.

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Format’s Relaunch And Rebranding Takes Online Portfolios To The Next Level

Earlier this month, the popular online portfolio platform 4ormat underwent a rebranding and relaunch.

Since 2010, Toronto-based 4ormat—now Format—has been the choice for tens of thousands of creative professionals across 125 countries. Showcasing work is a vital part of every creative’s business and life, so the platform becomes an extension of what the person does. Like a suit for a businessman, the webpage needs to look good and feel good.

Many web-building applications have immerged on the scene since then, and users are beginning to identify new demands: mobile flexibility; fluid, clean and speedy presentation and enhanced managing features. Format, of course, is all about accommodating those needs.

“Our goal was always to run a sustainable business,” Lukas Dryja, CEO of Format, told Techvibes, “and by having that goal, we needed to innovate everyday, so that we are building the best product possible.”

Still Format stresses the importance of customizability and simplicity, understanding that most photographers, illustrators, painters and artists aren’t fully capable of designing, building and managing a website without a little handrail to guide them.

“Late last year we reviewed every interface inside our app. Based on our findings we decided the best solution is a fresh start,” said Dryja. “Basically, we looked at the entire system holistically and designed the solution that appealed to users as well as provide a framework for us to use down the road.”

Format prizes itself by having a shallow learning curve and an easy to grasp usability. Users begin by selecting a theme, a style in which the work will be displayed. It could be a slideshow, an album of thumbnails or an interactive scrolling feature. Included in the interface is the theme editor, a feature that enables users to fine-tune detailed elements of the portfolio. Not only is the background and colour customizable, but also the size of images, how visitors interact with the content and what the padding, spacing, etc. looks like when published. And all that is accessed through a simple drag-and-drop design that makes adding and modifying works quick and easy.

“The need was always to create a professional website,” said Dryja, “and the way that someone would have to get there—previously to Format—was a very long and rigorous process. With Format, someone can have a website up in five minutes. And that was the unprecedented jump for people.”

So how does Format balance the demand for more customizable features and the straightforwardness of the application? That is a question the team at Format ask each other, and that is the fine line the design-oriented company walks on a daily bases.

Artists are known to experiment and try new things, and Format is taking some inspiration from their users. The platform’s relaunch, coinciding with the rebranding and redesign, is a wonderful reminder of what artist, entrepreneurs and designers can do when they all work together to present truly moving works and create new standards across all industries.

Canadian Digital Agency Rival Schools Has Fun Being Creative for Clients


Don’t let the name Rival Schools fool you: their studio in Vancouver is not a classroom with chalkboards and desks, but rather an environment that fosters creativity—action figures, cartoon posters and a ping pong table all work together as inspirational ornaments.

The fun-loving digital agency formed in 2007 and has done work for big name companies such as McDonald’s, Kellogg’s and Nike. Rival Schools began as a service agency, doing projects primarily for clients, both as a mean for survival and a method to gain an education in a constantly changing field. What they know now is that although they want to continue attracting talent and building their portfolio with paying clients, they also want to leverage their skills and create personal projects.

“Diversity and flexibility is challenging and fun,” says Roy Husada, Rival Schools’ cofounder and creative director. “Just doing straight client work can burn you out.”

Bramble Berry Tales, an interactive storybook app is Rival Schools’ newest project conceived from their playground-like studio. The first book in the series titled “The Story of Kalkalilh” written by Marilyn Thomas teaches lessons and sparks imagination as the reader follows Lily and Thomas as they explore the colourful and musical land of Kalkalilh.

“It’s based off of indigenous people,” said Husada. “It comes from the Squamish tribe’s folklore that have been passed down from generations to generations. It has never been officially documented in any mainstream way. But as you know indigenous languages and culture are in a decline.”

The second book entitled “The Great Sasquatch” will be released in October and the third book “The Little People” will be available for download in December 2013. Rival Schools is taking the opportunity to help capture and reinvigorate stories that are essentially the roots of Canada.

Rival Schools value their method of selecting projects. They take pride in working from idea to result, whether it is their own special undertaking like Bramble Berry Tales or a project for a large corporation. The most important factor for Rival Schools is communication.

“A lot of shops say they can do everything,” explains Husada, “that is how we like to label ourselves. We can do everything, but our biggest strength is our ability to combine our craft of user experience and user interface with content. We take concepts from the beginning to the end.”

Innovative curiosity is what keeps Rival Schools going. Entertainment, consumer goods, software and technology are the products, but the real goal is establishing a relationship and working as a team with companies that have the same mindset.

“Clients that aren’t good fit are those who tell us what to build, but not why they want us to build it,” said Husada. “What are they trying to achieve? The analogy is like going to the doctor and telling the doctor what you want. You don’t tell them what you want. You don’t tell them you need a cast—you tell them what is wrong first and they will tell you what you actually need.”

Husada added, “We always tell our clients that we can adapt to a style based on their goals. We don’t have a style. We are not always clean and neat or funky and edgy. It really depends, but what we do is that we look at the end user and we use all our ability to understand the process and empathy to figure what it is that appeals to them and be delightful.”