Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thinking Inside the Box

I've never liked the expression, "Thinking outside the box." I'm not against the principle---advanced artists/designers/whatever often come up with amazing solutions that defy convention. But defying convention is not, in itself, a virtue. I've argued for years that finding creative ways to work within "the box," or using rules and conventions to your advantage, is an art in itself. But a difficult project I worked on for the last couple years taught me why people use that phrase so much: Stupid boxes.

Let me be clear: a great box of conditions can be more inspiring than sitting in front of a blank sheet of paper. But a stupid box creates mental paradoxes, irreconcilable contradictions that make great solutions nearly impossible to find. Not that it's really impossible. In fact, finding an elegant solution to an impossible problem feels like the crowning moment of your career, if it ever happens. But most of the time, it's frustrating for everyone involved.
I feel like I'm being too vague, so here are some examples.
Good box: design a scary monster that still appeals to children and uses projectile attacks.
Bad box: design a terrifying yet expressive monster that appeals to children but that teenagers think is cool and not goofy, and make his arms into rocket launchers, and its head should be a chainsaw, so use something other than the face to make it expressive, oh, and the rocket launcher and chainsaw need to be made out of flesh.

Anyway, I still think it's a good skill to think inside the box. But my advice is this: if you feel like the box you're working inside is stupid, and if you have any leverage whatsoever on your project, do everything in your power to change that box so it no longer makes your life miserable! Then you will be happier and I will stop ranting about it.

In other news, some art I did for the Avalanche blog:

20 comments:

  1. Your blog is very nice. The images are very beautiful. Wish you all the best. God is Great.

    http://home-jobs-4you.blogspot.com

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  2. the look and feel of this is outstanding!!!!!!! beautiful as always!

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  3. This is one elegant spaceman. Nicely done.
    Fleshy-chainsaw heads are always making life difficult for me.

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  4. i love hist space sute. love the colors. one thing tho, how is he going to drink his tea?

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  5. Hawk: It's the principle of the thing.

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  6. I like the fact that he is drinking tea while using a jetpack. That’s sophistication. Keep up the good work.

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  7. in know art isnt bound by reality. it still an awsome

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  8. Hawk: No, I mean the principle of tea. He has to take tea time, even if he can't drink it.

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  9. Amen to that.

    Sweet space duke. but a meat chainsaw head... awesome.

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  10. wow dude

    love it

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  11. Awesome! Amazing work, you inspire me!

    Congratulations!

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  12. It´s amazing dude, i love this one.
    .Congratulations dude

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  13. Absolutely fantastic
    Congratulation

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  14. Hey Sam, thanks for the thoughtful response on the superhero issue. Perhaps they indeed are a manifestation of our culture's feeling about mortality. I can't decipher it beyond that, our society's psychosis is too deep, haha.

    And I don't believe in boxes but ironically find myself constantly trying to escape one. Nice piece, cheers!

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  15. yeaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh sam !

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  16. "design a terrifying yet expressive monster that appeals to children but that teenagers think is cool and not goofy, and make his arms into rocket launchers, and its head should be a chainsaw, so use something other than the face to make it expressive, oh, and the rocket launcher and chainsaw need to be made out of flesh."

    Come on. You TOTALLY have to draw this now! :)

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  17. Preach it, Brother!

    Great post.

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  18. your "stupid box" theory monster example made me smile.

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  19. I'm sure it's meant to, it reminds me of WoW! Great job!

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  20. Wow! This is amazing art.... Keep posting such an interesting blog post.

    Thanks!

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