Each post in the Practice Profile series invites discussion about creative practice. This post features Jason Moriber, whose creative vitality is unmistakably present in his writing. Jason’s interest in creativity is both personal and universal, and he is quick to champion the creative pursuits of others.
When asked how he would describe his personal creative practice, Jason explained,
“Don’t be afraid of the eraser,” is one life-long impactful lesson I learned from my undergraduate drawing professor Karen Saler. I would say that describes my personal creative practice. I like to add maybe too much stuff, then remove most of it, then add more stuff and then remove it. I do this with writing, with drawing, and with plaster. The eraser takes many forms.
Digital has made erasing both easier and harder. As example, I used to type on a manual antique typewriter and enjoyed covering over swaths of texts with white-out and then type over it (if not re-type the entire page and discover/make serendipitous changes). With digital you can cleanly erase, without history, both texts and images…this is “easier.” I use both, sometimes redundantly, to see if I get different results. I typically start with the physical and then shift into digital.”
Learning to edit extraneous elements is essential. The iconic designer Charles Eames subscribed to a philosophy that asked two important questions: “What are the details that matter most? That reveal the most?”. These two questions are central to any creative work. Knowing which details do matter most separates master from novice. Learning not to be “afraid of the eraser” is a powerful lesson, and once this is internalized it becomes far easier (though not entirely easy!) to edit liberally.
Next I asked Jason to consider the ways he has observed this practice informing his professional practice. To which he replied,
“I bring it directly into my pro work, but in my pro work there is a need for speed. The add/erase process is time intensive. I’ve developed a working technique, like exercise, so I am always practicing the form of adding and erasing, but not necessarily for my pro work. I believe the side effects of practicing the process allows me to develop ideas quicker when I’m called on to generate quick results.
One way to think of it, as a metaphor, is that I’m always working in my sketchbook, trying out ideas through add/erase. My client-work is a still-life photograph. I take the experience of my sketchbook and use it to influence how I will set-up the still-life. I do both, but the add/erase is an indirect practice.”
The comparison between working in the sketchbook and composing a still-life photograph describes two distinct but interrelated working styles. Becoming fluent in this add-then-erase working style means that Eames’ two questions are ever-present.
Jason acknowledges that there is an important element to this process: a willingness to cultivate alternative perspectives. He demonstrates the benefit of exploring a new subject in the example given below.
“One key tenet of add/erase is to be open to change, to serendipity, no matter where it comes from. Ideally, through add/erase you’re generating “happy accidents.” If this becomes your mojo, a mantra, then ideas that seem unrelated can be adopted and modified to find a new solution.
As example, I was working on a client pitch presentation that was due in a few weeks’ time. During that time I attended a conference about organic farming. While listening to a presentation on organic dairy farming I had the serendipitous insight that the farming model could be the “story,” the foundation to my client presentation. My team thought it was a little “out there” but I convinced them to go with it. I erased a bit of the farming aspect, adding more about the client need until the presentation had a balance…ultimately we won the assignment.”
Jason Moriber has always been interested in dissonance, the beachhead where cultural and social behavior negotiate and balance the past with the future. It’s the place where new ideas evolve. Over the past 15 years, the evolution of social and cultural behaviors caused by dissonance has been radically accelerating, mainly due to the digital revolution.
Within dissonance, his professional career has been focused on “social communications,” the way people invent, adapt and communicate due to these changes. At start-ups through to agencies his roles have been a mix of researcher, architect, designer and futurist, all within “social.” Catch Jason on Twitter or spend some time on his blog: http://jasonempire.com/
© 2013 Kira Campo