Another one to add to the list: Laurie Rosenwald

On Saturday I had the tremendous good fortune to help out with a workshop by illustrator Laurie Rosenwald through AIGA. I had seen her work before through little animations she’d made for David Sedaris and then back-tracking to her own personal videos after really enjoying the design style. I remember after seeing this video coveting the raw style and honesty in the work, the same reason I enjoy James Victore‘s work (and person) so much.

the shrink pimp from laurie rosenwald on Vimeo.

Rosenwald swore us all to omertà, a code of silence, about what happened so unfortunately I can’t tell you or show you the 500+ pictures I took. She wants what happens to remain a surprise in order to entice people to do things they might not so willingly sign up for. Harmless activities, of course, but you’d be surprised what people are willing to resist. So I can’t tell you what happened, but I can tell you that people on the street were extremely intrigued by what we were doing:

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The workshop is driven by re-creating the kind of insight that comes from random acts or interacting with your environment while not trying to be creative. You can imagine my nerd excitement about this topic after reading Imagine: How Creativity Works by Lehrer and Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Gladwell (loved it, by the way), which touches same theme. How much can one girl hear about social psychology and still want more?

Rosenwald uses the invention of Velcro as an example. After a romp through the woods, Georges De Mestral got burrs stuck to his pants and, in  examining afterwards though, “What could this be?.” In other words, he ended up being inspired by and inventing something by just interacting with his environment normally–without the pressure of having to be creative and to invent something. Without having to sit behind a desk and struggle against a blank piece of paper. It was a happy accident.

“Trying to be creative is like the kiss of death”

“I don’t want to be alone with me and my limitations.”

Rosenwald put what I was thinking and feeling perfectly. I have been racking my brain recently on this poster project with a client and looking for the opportunity to relax and be creative but not getting the chance. I just feel too much pressure to do well. My friends will all tell you that I’ve been canvasing them for inspiration because you never know what conversation will trigger inspiration.

Rosenwald also gave a presentation at the end of the day on how she applies what the student’s did in the workshop into her professional work as a illustrator and designer. She talked about striving to make things ‘perfect by not perfect’—which exactly clicked with how I felt about her work. I’ll admit that it wasn’t until I saw the slides of her work that I was recalled the videos I’d seen. They were instantly distinct and recognizable. Impactful.

“If a things are too perfect I think they’re boring and if things are too ‘blagh’ I think they’re boring.”

She also implored us all to stop using google images for inspiration. Why? Because so is every designer in the world and we’re all going to create work that looks the same thing if we are all looking at the same pictures and using the same programs. And you look at her work, which is so rich with variety, and you have to agree that we all need a little bit more experimentation in or work. Sure, I think now there’s a trend of things looking handmade and vintage. As long as you can make it a vector graphic.

Work backwards, she says, make what you like and then think “What could this be?” If you’re trying too hard to be good, it sucks all of the fun out  of your work. It’s true.

I’m adding Laurie to The List.

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