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Paul Sahre + Exquisite Corpses

April 2, 2010

Paul Sahre spoke on Wednesday at the school. I’ve been super into him since hunting around for internships in February and discovering him through the http://funislearning.com/ website (an excellent resource, by the way). He won my heart not just with his cool work–which on a side note, I think really does super successfully things I try to do–play within limited tools, use non-computer techniques, be super smart (this is my absolute favorite piece right now:
http://www.paulsahre.com/work09/the_luzhin_defense/) –but also that he has a regrets page (http://www.paulsahre.com/regrets/) which I just find fantastic–I really wish more designers had something that would expose a little bit more of their process. In fact, I realized much later that the one question I wish I had asked–for the poster he was giving away to the first five question posters or not (an effective bribe for asking questions!)–was whether he got feedback from people. That’s not at all a specific Paul Sahre question, but rather a question appropriate to any designer I like. It’s something I think about sometimes in bits and snatches; how to use people’s feedback effectively. On the one hand, the first thing I noticed about design is that almost anyone, no matter how little I respected their opinion in other matters, could offer an interesting take on my work–maybe just because design IS about communicating, so if anything, they give an insight about how successfully that is happening or not.

But I think about it now, because it’s hard for me to find effective feedbackers–by effective meaning that they see where I am going and help me get there. I don’t think this is a reflection of anyone I hang out with or anything–I think it’s actually extraordinarily rare to find effective feedbackers–especially as you mature in design and know what you want–it’s like finding a romantic partner; you have to be on the same wavelength. But at certain phases of designing, usually when I get a little stuck or am too into it and get a little lost about the big picture–I go around asking people for help and what they think; more and more it’s getting harder to follow through on that impulse somehow. I don’t think I’m being articulate about this. I guess what I’m saying is that I love to know what people think about my stuff, during the process, to get feedback in matters large and small (concept and execution), but later, I see that was a foolish idea–that asking for opinions was just a distraction from the broader picture, somehow. So I’m curious what other people do, in terms of getting ideas and opinions from people.

Anyways, back to Paul Sahre! The one idea he mentioned that was completely surprising to me was the idea of an exquisite corpse in design–he showed some examples he had done with some friends. I am enamored with this idea! Both as a thing to explore in design–a fun thing to do with friends, but also, perhaps in mapping–which I am really super into as I have mentioned elsewhere–an exquisite corpse map seems terrific, actually, and quite relevant for another project I have in the back cooker–but ALSO it seems like a cool–look thing to explore: to explore three different ways, aesthetically, one idea (while using some sort of limited common visual language). I am trying to find links on his website, because this is such a weird idea, but can’t–sounds like a perfect premise to re-email him (and possible re-ask for an internship!).

On a completely unrelated note, I saw that one of the referrers to my blog is a search for “color” on the wordpress site. So I did it and I seem to have to come out first; extremely weird and I have extremely mixed reactions. Apart from the confusion of how this is happening (maybe it is the color tags?) and that this might just be a mistake, it’s of course nice to come in top for some search and I’m grateful for the referral, but I almost feel guilty about it–as color is just one part of this blog, and if I so rarely offer specific things to learn regarding color (or maybe, anything), rather some work and reflections on the process.

Guess I should enjoy it while it lasts…

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