Bram Pitoyo, Portland Creative/Tech Event Review

Adam Gallardo at Cre8Con: An Event Review (Part 8 of 8)

Adam Gallardo

Dark Horse Comics

I’m going to be talking about my creative process, then switch gear.

This gives me sheer of terror because, first of all, I haven’t talked to the public for 20 years. The second feeling, I’m not a very self-reflexive guy who doesn’t think about this stuff.

“Where do you get your idea?” I get asked this question a lot. I feel that this has an underlying assumption. Because people feel that if they know where I got my idea, then they would be able to go to that place and get their own. The right question is not “why” but “how.”

And, sad to say, there’s no secret to this. I either get my idea through hard work, or flashes of “religious” inspirations.

As a kid, I wasn’t really into comic. Comic was something that I got at a road trip, or when you stay at home sick. I didn’t understand that there are people who created these things, or that there are series in comic. So while I was aware of comics, I was never aware into how they figure into my creative process.

So by the time I was old enough, all these media got these hooks into me.

For me, the creative process has always been a problem solving one. The first comic I ever wrote for was Star Wars: Infinities – Return of the Jedi. The idea behind the series is: you take one element of a story arc, change it, and focus on how that change impacts the story.

Back then at Dark Horse, I was working to answer reader’s email. The question I get asked the most was “where’s Infinities – Return of The Jedi”? So I went and talked to the editor and he said “as soon as we have a good story, we’ll move forward with it.”

Well, I had been thinking about writing comics, but never expressed it to anyone. I’ve been submitting short stories to magazines and was interested in becoming this Raymond Carver-type of author. But one of the benefits of working at Dark Horse was that I get to read all these comic script drafts.

And I read them and thought “Hey, I can do that, too.”

So one night, I went home, sat on the couch, and started thinking about it. That’s part of the hard work of being a creative. I was playing the movie (Return of The Jedi) back and forth, trying to find the perfect moment to break the story and go on a tangent. And I found it. But I didn’t write anything down.

So, the next day, I went in and pitched in the idea to the second guy at Dark Horse. He said “fire away.” The point of departure was when the scene with Leia in Jabba’s Palace went wrong. He stared at me with that resilient stare, and finally said “write a one page, and we’ll give it to Lucas.”

So my problem was finding the perfect moment to break from the Star Wars movie.

And then many months passed. Until one day, he passed by my office and said “Hey, Gallardo, when are you going to write that script?”

A lot of people asked me if I ever got a hard time from Lucasfilms. Any time they asked me to change, I view that as a problem to solve, too. So by that means, you move along with story by moving from problem to problem.

Admittedly, it’s rather unglamorous. It involves sitting down and writing. But that’s how I did it.

My favorite question to ask is to look at the market and say “what is out there and what would I like to be reading right now?” then solve that.

The good ideas will make it out of the notebook. The ideas that are no good will just sit and fester. Another lesson is, don’t ever throw out an idea. You may be able to repurpose it another day.

Another question: how do you write an idea that is a paragraph, then make it into a pitch that the editor will like and give money to.

Here comes the switching gears part.

I talked about hard work. The other way I get ideas is “flashes of inspiration.” These are instances where ideas pop out to your head out of nowhere. I know it’s a cliche, but taking a shower? It works.

You can’t force these moments, all you can do is record them before you forget. But while you can’t force it, you can cultivate it. So my tips is: read everything. I try to not limit myself in one particular genre. I read everything, watch everything, listen to new music.

As a creator of fiction, I don’t feel like I have a primary document. A curious astronomer can look at tables of planetary motion, etc. But a fiction writer has no text—so in a way, everything is a text. So that was why my advice was read everything.

I mentioned that my storytelling sense has been set by these other media. I hope that I can bring this experience into a comic. As creative people, the worst appraisal we can get is: it’s unoriginal.

So my tips are three:

  • I read what I can
  • I put endless hours in my notebook
  • I wait for flashes of inspirations

Other than that, I’m just waiting for the next problem to solve.

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Bram Pitoyo, Portland Creative/Tech Event Review

Jay Meschter at Cre8Con (Part 7 of 8)

Jay Meschter

Nike Digital Kitchen, Flywire

Work with people who get it. If you look at Nike and thought “how did you get a culture like that?” Well, Nike’s founder was never satisfied as a coach, he was always looking for a way to improve his athlete. He even learnt to make shoes. This was how he met Phil Knight. It was him who said “let’s try something together.” He’s out there making track to fit the “Oregon Sunshine” condition (which really means “rain.”)He literally went to his backyard, mixing various substances that will make the best track.

A lot of people credit him for igniting the “jogging” movement that swept all across the US. He took his wife’s waffle iron and poured rubber over it to create the first “waffle trainer.” He was also obsessed with weight. He was interested in stripping away whatever is unnecessary in a shoes.

In large companies, you realize that you want to improve the efficiency of process from cradle to cradle. So all things that you improve was supposed to be tuned for this perfectly running machine.

Well, that’s not very good for innovation.

It’s the equivalent of growing plants in a field vs. greenhouse. One is arranged so tightly that it impaired innovation. One is a house of experimentation and non-linear openness.

The Innovation Kitchen is very couterproductive to business principles. The charter of the kitchen is quite interesting. In the industry, there’s a lot of remixing of popular culture. This is terrific, but you can only do it for so long.

This is not what we’re interested in the kitchen.

Instead, we’re interested in making the new classic. You think you’re going to run out of ideas, but you never do. When the SR-71 Blackbird airplane was designed, the designer had no interest in its form. Instead, by designing for function, the form then took shape. The other designer is Charles Eames. What he did was playing with new forms and opportunities for the design of chairs. He didn’t invented plywood, but he used it in a new way.

The project we were taking on was to take a new model for footwork construction: design efficiency. I can tell you for a fact that a bridge built with stone can only handle so much—until steel comes along in the 1950’s and you’re able to do spans and scales that you can never do before.

At Nike, we’ve always used a layered approach in constructing shoes: where you would cut materials out, and then when you need more strength you would stuff and patch it. There’s a fundamental problem with this, because when you’re trying to make something lighter, you need to take materials off. But the shoes are built in layers—so strength and stability went away with the weight! We felt that gold shoes that we made was the limit of the function of this old approach. We feel that this is the end of the line without rethinking the process.

The idea for this new construction model was initially very expensive to construct. But years later, we went to our material room, and in the room was an embroidery machine. This machine was designed mostly for decoration, but we realized that it can also print fiber. It doesn’t print very well, though, so we had to hack and then custom-made it. The idea of this new construction model was, really, akin to putting a muscle to your feet. This changes everything for us. Instead of thinking of a shoes that you have to design in a program prior to production, this model, by the manner in which it’s constructed, allows you to tune it like an instrument.

Usually:

  • Ultra-lightweight sacrifices strength
  • Stability compromises mobility
  • Exceptional control sacrifices comfort

This new construction model gets both.

To test this model, we talked to five Olympic athletes and let them try it out—not expecting anything. Well, the next day, the camera was rolling and we saw these five guys running with these prototypes on the field! Thankfully, one of them won the first place.

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Bram Pitoyo, Portland Creative/Tech Event Review

Jelly Helm at Cre8Con: An Event Review (Part 5 of 8)

Jelly Helm

Wieden+Kennedy

Obama, Facebook, The Iphone And The Characteristics Of Emergent 21St Century Brands

I have a friend who is a client of mine named Mark Ritchie. He’s an activist. What I know from him: speak only what you know to be true.

What turned me on about working at W+K is storytelling. I love storytelling. I think connection is the power of it for me. And I think that brand is really a story.

I think that a brand is a story that expands our-self story.

We’ve been facing an existentialist problem since the dawn of mankind. For example: what is the meaning of our extremely short, individualistic existence on planet earth—itself a very small planet who orbits around a star—itself a very small star compared to everything else in the universe? So we use stories to make sense of all these bewildering events, and to help give meaning to our experiences.

Brands are stories that you pull in to expand our own story. When you choose a brand, you choose one that expands your own self-story. Not the one that conflicts with it.

Our self-story expands like crazy [pictures of 2 candidates.] For example, in 2004, either an African American or a woman is going to be a President. That’s a sign of change.

In advertising, there are also signs of change. First, there was TiVO. Then there was the media consumption habit that increasingly moves toward the non-traditional. Then there was the long tail culture that’s really thin and long. Then there was this idea that advertisers don’t take control of the brand—the public do. And then there was this “interactive” thing. We don’t know how it works yet, but we pretend that it really works.

In short, It’s a new world. It’s a different kind of world, and advertisers are really shocked, because they’re not sure how they’re going to make money anymore.

So what does it take to create a successful 21st century brand? It reminded me of the tale of the 6 blinds monk that were asked to identify the elephant. These are like how different disciplines view a 21st century brand. The interactive guys may say that the web is the key to winning. The traditional art directors may say “keep making something creative, and hopefully they’ll notice.” The social media people may say that all traditional marketing is dead.

The problem is: they’re all correct, but they all failed to recognize the bigger pattern.

Obama, Facebook and Apple are 21st century brands. The first thing that I noticed that they have in common is that none of them were created by an ad agency. And people choose these brand not because they’re seduced by it.

21st century brands are not built through advertising, but through direct experiences. Sure, interactive is a part of that, but it’s not about interactive, but about participating in a story.

And yet for all this help of head and brand
How happily instinctive we remain
Our best guide upward further to the light
Passionate preference such as love as sight

I like it this poem because it encourages the idea that we, despite trying to figure out what to do with our lives, are attracted to things that make us grow. Things that lift us up.

We are growth-seeking creatures. I just think that’s our nature. I think there’s an upward thrust. This happens culturally, too.

A group of scientists created a map of how growth works through the human culture. They took all models of human development, put them on top of each others and find similarities. This spiral is the map. It’s called Spirodynamics.

[picture of multi-leveled spiral with various colors, from tan to yellow]

Starting from the bottom:

  • Tan: I exist. This is the dawn of consciousness
  • Purple: I and you exist, if we cooperate, something will happen
  • Red: I and you exist. Other groups also exist, and if we defeat them, something will happen
  • Blue: law introduced
  • Orange: Technology, science and progress
  • Green: “hippie-dippie,” science and all that is good, but let’s also hold hands. Communitarian value
  • Yellow: Finally, this is where we’re at today. Yellow is about a holistic view that we are headed towards, where we accept all the good things that came before us. Nothing is rejected. Everything is embraced and encouraged.

21st century brands will embrace and encourage humanity. All aspects of human being. Not just sustainability, knowledge, or technology, but all of it.

But will will a growth-minded, non-stuff-babsed economy look like?

I got no idea, but I’ve got a surfboard and I’m ready to go.

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Bram Pitoyo, Portland Creative/Tech Event Review

Brian Van’t Hul at Cre8Con (Part 4 of 8)

Brian Van’t Hul

Laika

Besides working with the design and effects work, I also get to look at the show-at-hand as a whole, and look at the timeline and money that we have, and try to fit that into the day-to-day operations.

I’ve always been a fan of stop motion as a kid. But at some point, I was watching these films, and one of the adults mentioned that these things don’t magically appear on TV, and there are people whose job is to do this everyday. I was about 8 years old when this idea clicked to my brain.

It’s about combining engineering, chemistry and artistry. Whatever it is that you’re interested in, if you don’t have a passion to keep you forward. Some people get into this business, there’s a certain element of glamour to it.

What’s really great is to see the result the next morning, pick the good footages and hand them over. A lot of the question that I aksed during the day: there’s this whole thing now where people buy DVD. Today, we’re more educated about how they make these things.

A lot of times when I show up on set, people know what those boxes show up, and people expect me to do certain things with that. So when stuff broke, people just asked me “you can always fix this later, right?”

Except that you don’t have “later.”

So we’re trying to talk them through alternate techniques or ways that they want. Sometimes, people are seduced by creating a shot that’s really flamboyant, and seduced by it—often stopping the movie production before it started back up again. Those are the kinds of dialogues I have with directors.

Then people with the money starts getting “creative” [laughs.]

My creative process is really aboout getting a good brief. Then you can move around inside that brief.

For me, a lot of the reward isn’t actually seeing the final product. A big part of it is actually seeing the day-to-day ethic. Trying to have the energy to problem solve. Trying to find the extra time to not only study what’s happening right now, but also how they do it fifty years ago. If you’re too reliant on technology, you’re probably not doing your best.

Part of my job is to go down and talk with the camera crew and art director to save us money. When you’re working on a big budget film, it’s best to approach it as if “this is my film, this is my money, and I’m composing it in my garage.” You don’t need to always need to use the fanciest technology. If you’re going to notice any of that stuff, why pay for it? It’s a balance between using tradition and incorporating technology.

You know, Mike. All of this wouln’t be possible without the Cocktail Napkin technology.

Then you would also have physical objects in front of the camera. In a miniature set, things do change, expand and contract depending on weather. It’s little things like that. And there are times when it doesn’t fix itself and you have to reconstruct it.

If people ask me what my advice would be: you have to be really reckless. Break whatever rules whenever you can, or you’d disappear into generalities.

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Bram Pitoyo, Portland Creative/Tech Event Review

Damali Ayo at Cre8Con: An Event Review (Part 3 of 8)

Damali Ayo

CROW clothing

I’ve had a lot of creative incarnation. And right now, I’m in the part when I said “hey, maybe I don’t have the follow through.” This little chat is about creating the garment for what I call the “perfect hoodies.” I’m going to talk about my approach to design.

But first, who am I?

  • Artist
  • Author
  • Thinker
  • Curioust
  • Recently learned about sustainable fashion
  • Self-made
  • Problem solver
  • Activist
  • Life-long seamster
  • Performer
  • Web designer
  • Fashionista
  • Historian
  • High standards
  • Recently got new sewing machine
  • 10 year student of yoga
  • Personal trainer
  • Recent conquered CFS
  • Recently adopted the motto: “everything is possible”

First career I had was being a black child.

This journey began with me as a shopper. I’ve been a meticulous label reader, so this is a perfect fit. So I asked myself: “what do I want to buy when I bought a hoodie?” I’ve been a year without a hoodie, and I wanted something really comfortable, so I was stubborn and never bought one.

I want something but didn’t find it. So then I decided to make it myself. I want it to not using eco-model as a marketing model.

I want it to be well made. Not cutting corners. I want something that will demonstrate diversity in our advertising, and take the idea of “what happens when you’re done with the clothing” into account. And something you can wear everyday when I want to be dressed up. You can see the spotty nature of the industry when I did the research, I want something that could do it all. I get some of these things that I want in the hoodies that I researched, but not all of it.

Let’s take a look at the design. The first thing I looked at was the style. I want it to be sleek and streamlined.

Sustainability: it’s 97% organic cotton. Made locally, in Portland. Our label reads “mostly compostable.”

Function/features: I’m a traveler, so I create a side pocket. I want it to be stiff enough to hold my Blackberry, and high enough, so that when you walk around, your headphone doesn’t get stuck. Also: I tried to refine the ‘kangaroo’ pocket and hood parts of the hoodie to make it less ‘six year-olds.’

I also want to make it unisex, and for everybody inbetween. Being in Portland, where gender is a big issue all the time, I want to honor that. So I created an all-gender wear.

And last but not least (this is the most controversial aspect of my company) is that I want to make it affordable. My board member asked me “do we need another company whose clothing we can’t afford?” So I work on a sliding scale basis. It says “Hey, we have value. And when you can pay more, you’re helping others pay less.”

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Bram Pitoyo, Portland Creative/Tech Event Review

Michael Curry at Cre8Con: An Event Review (Part 2 of 8)

Michael Curry

Michael Curry Design

This morning, I want to talk about basic tenets on creativity and how I learned to work.

As a lone artist, sitting alone with a painting, having one yearly show somewhere. I spent the first 12 year of my career doing this. Until people found out that my work in the gallery consists of making things move. It was “theatrical.” So they asked me to put some of these sculptures on stage.

What I found there was fascinating, because it was the first time I collaborated with other artist.

I went into this art with an Oregon blue-collar worker background. And I studied a run-off-the-mill artistic aptitude, then took it further. Dealing with the basics was the key to my success. In fact, the things I do now resembles much of what I learned in basic painting. I regret to say that a lot of newer designers don’t have a strong skills in basics.

I sort of bank internationally on the idea that I live in Portland, Oregon. There’s a perception that this area is full of creativity and a pioneering spirit. The perception that details and skills matter. The perception of a holistic and altruistic attitude about art. People outside the area even talked to me and said that they love the idea that people are sitting out there in Oregon and thinking about our projects all the time.

In Europe and Asia, there’s a lot of disdain for a lot of things American, but the design world hasn’t been touched by this. At least in my field, US has an unbelievable reputation abroad as being a maverick who stands up and say “this is not good.” They are aware that the innovation, love of risk and lack of pride and ego ego that we have that makes us able to break out of the norm or tradition. Maybe we exude confidence?

You have to learn to take the spark and turn it into practice. This is the difference between a creative thought and a creative practice. Thought is a moment. It’s about keeping that creative spark hot and taking it further.

All creatives have ADD. ADD allows you to bounce back and forth between the brains. It’s almost as if you have a file system and a pile system.

How to get random creative thoughts. This is an important thing to understand. It can come naturally, or you can get it from a subject.

But here’s the first you don’t do: you don’t reference anything else for a while.

My big beef is this: once you get an idea, you immediately assemble a pile of research and picture. My idea is to take what I call “the golden minute.” You have to give yourself at least 5 minute gestating this into your own gut before you choose to go forward or look at anything else.

This spark of an idea is going to be an intuitive blast. For me, there is no such thing as “random” in an artist’s mind. Because everything is a summation of nuances in her mind from her lifetime.

A hunch should be taken seriously. It’s like an archeological dig. Write it down. Keep it going. Don’t start researching. It doesn’t come in a flash. It comes in a simple thought. A color. A music. The type of fabric that a story exudes. This sort of indirect textures and nuances that came from that will add up to form something really powerful.

Also, don’t get others to do anything for you. Stretch yourself, then do it with others. People I work with who are very successful are pre-computer. There has been times that I’ve done no research before I come up with something, and somebody tells me “somebody else has already done it”—but only very rarely. This is what separates the good from the bad. I can almost tell you that those who took the chance and risk succeed, and one that relies on focus group fails.

However, you must also manage your risk. I do safe Disney commercial project. But along my schedule, I do things that I don’t understand, that I won’t make any money for. Introduce an adventurous avenue or sub-area of your mind that complements your more banal area. Later in my career, I get to design most of what I built. My company sometimes wonder: why are you taking this project if we’re not making any money off of it?

This is why I’m drunk with theater: I got to make sculpture, then give it to an artist who not only puts it on, but also makes it into something else—and my audience pays to be there!

I’ve asked architects and graphic designers to think more of their works as a characters. Theater always seem like a character to me. Think of spaces as living and breathing. We think of characters all the time. Designers’ ways of thinking should be no different.

[Video: “Serious Play”]

So the real question is: how do I be original and not derivative?

  1. Give yourself first blush at an idea before you look for advice.
  2. This ADD thing, you have to learn to work with them. You foster it, because there’s no such things as a bad idea. Believe in the resolution of random idea that, if being thought as minor, might be a missed point.
  3. I apply strange factors to idea. I call them “filters.” Freeze your idea. What does it look like frozen? What does it look like when it melts? Also, walk around it. A lot of really creative people walk around.

Understand that, even though you’re learning about creativity, you’re never going to learn it in your lifetime. So refine what you already got.

There is a known factor for creativity in Portland, and we need to use that. We can make our city a more commanding presence in the art scene. So do your part. Thank you.

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Bram Pitoyo, Portland Creative/Tech Event Review

Cre8Con: An Event Review (Part 1 of 8)

Cre8Con: The Portland Creative Conference

When: Saturday, September 6, 2008, 8:30 am – 5:00 pm

Where: Newmark Theatre at Portland Center for the Performing Arts

What It’s About: Creative process, through and through. The Portland Creative Conference was filled with notable creatives from different disciplines sharing the secret to answer one universal and elusive question: how could one better her creative process to generate better ideas?

The notes, sadly, will not include On Your Feet, who probably had the most interactive, brain-stretching presentation in the conference, because their presentation was not a lecture to begin with.

This week, I will be posting notes from each speaker everyday:

  1. Michael Curry, Michael Curry Design
  2. Damali Ayo, CROW clothing Due tomorrow.
  3. Brian Van’t Hul, Laika
  4. Jelly Helm, Wieden+Kennedy
  5. Jen Modarelli, White Horse
  6. Jay Meschter, Nike Flywire
  7. Adam Gallardo, Dark Horse Comics

Technicality:
Translation: Opening a laptop and liveTweeting the event actually brought risk of people thinking that you’re a geek.

Interestingness: ☝ ☝ ☝ ☝ ½
Translation: If you’re looking for inspirations and exercises for your right brain, you’re in the right place. There is no secret to creativity, though. Only hard work could make it happen.

What I Learned From The Event In Six Words:
15-minute recap of entire conference FTW.

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