Embrace the unknown

by Rich Wells
Posted on 5 February 2016
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Our Creative Director recently gave a lecture at Sheffield Hallam University about a few things we've learned over the years.

Always start with Why

What problem are we trying to solve? Make your work into questions.

We don't know what we're doing

That's a good thing. If we did, we wouldn't be growing and life would be boring. Currently, we're learning how to run events and hackathons for social good.

Talk to people who use what you design

Empathy is a designer's best friend. On projects like Elefriends, it has been amazing to meet people who use the platform every day and to hear their experiences. They know what they need more than we do.

Work with Kids

We designed and built a game recently about a Dragon who lives in an attic. The concept was from young people and it fun to see their crazy ideas turn into reality.

Staring at screens is terrible for ideas

Move around. Be flexible in how you work. We were not made to sit down at a desk all day.

Keep it analogue as much as possible

As a general rule we ban screens in our co-creation workshops, and just stick to pen and paper. It seems to work well. Conversations and ideas are so much better when we're all present.

Capture what inspires you

Look wide for inspiration. Beyond the “best website gallery" sites. Save and organise everything. Spend time building an inspiration library that will help you in the future.

Copying isn't bad

Copying gets a bad press. Nothing is actually original and we're all inspired by the things around us. I copy things all the time.

Prioritise play
I make space to work on side projects every day. They give me ideas and energy for my other work. And they've opened up lots of doors as I've shared things online. I currently enjoy making collages, not for any reason, just because I like it.

Iterate - make it better over time
Break things down into chunks. Stop, come back and make better. Show things to people and learn. Fail quicker.

Learn to code. Learn to draw.
It's not hard to learn basic HTML. Code Academy is a good place to start. You can already draw—stop saying you can't. Draw something every day and you'll be surprised at how quickly you improve. It's not about being perfect, it's about having fun, helping you view the world differently and communicate ideas better. It also might help you get a job. I think it helped me.
Enjoy what you do.
You don't have to have a paid job in the creative industries to enjoy being creative. Start now. Do the things you love to do. Learn stuff and share your work. Forget your career, you need a calling.

I can't do this. But I'm going to do it anyway.
I have this thought most days, and I think a lot of other people do to. Just get on with it. Your best work is ahead of you.

Posted on 5 February 2016 - By Rich Wells
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