Getting good Ideas

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  1. #1
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    Getting good Ideas

    I discovered that the images/paintings I like most have some good Idea underlying. My favourite example is this famous painting from Bobby Chiu:

    49534_1175778463_submedium.jpg

    This painting would work perfectly even with a not so good execution, the Idea is so strong that the nice rendering is just the icing on the cake.

    Another example I love is the Newborn Contest entry from ca.org Member Veajoun:

    Europe_Vaejoun_003.jpg

    Gosh i could go on but now to my point:

    I find that the idea-finding part of art isn't being discussed as much on c.a. as the technical aspect.

    So my question: What are your exercises for practising getting good ideas? There are lots of methods, like brainstorming in advertising, but they all require some kind of given question, message or problem. Do you stare at your paper until your forehead bleeds (like doug adams) or does it strike you out of thin air? Do you have a method that works for you?

    Thanks for reading and eventually answering!


    cheers
    -a

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  3. #2
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    "Astronomy offers an aesthetic indulgence not duplicated in any other field. This is not an academic or hypothetical attraction and should require no apologies, for the beauty to be found in the skies has been universally appreciated for unrecorded centuries."
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    You get good ideas by getting a lot of ideas.

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    Showering, driving long distances late at night, digging ditches (really). I get a lot of my ideas when I'm doing something else - especially something sort of "automatic" that is occupying my left brain - allowing my right brain to skip about in a jolly manner. Also after 10pm at night is when I get most of my "epiphanies" - 10pm-2am are my most creative hours - again I think it is because my left brain is finally tired of stuff and my right brain comes out to play.

    But yeah - half the time I wish the damn ideas would go bother someone else.

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    This is redundant to even say, but in my experience, all ideas are both good and bad. It's the context and the execution in which the idea comes to fruition which makes or breaks it. This isn't to say all ideas are equal, or that bad ideas can be pulled out of the gutter, just that ideas can be manipulated, juxtaposed, massaged, kneaded together, broken down and otherwise changed to find the combination of ingredients to make one great.

    Painting, drawing and what not have been around virtually forever and it can seem like everything's been done to death. For instance, the Bobby Chiu idea is just a modification of the wolf in sheep's clothing idiom. It's just he's spun his own yarn in the execution by exchanging locale, creatures and the level in which the predator is wearing the clothing to make it fresh and HIS.

    More redundancy; just my two cents.

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  11. #6
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    Developing ideas is a skill developed through practice, like anything else. Do a lot of quick sketches of concepts. Over time, a larger and larger percentage of them will be interesting.


    Also, imagining things in abstract shapes (clouds, ink blots, and the like) can be a good idea, either as practice or to develop a particular piece.

    Finally, it helps to try and solve a particular problem (say, coming up with a creature that lives in a particular environment), rather than just trying to pull things out of thin air.

    Last edited by Meloncov; March 17th, 2011 at 10:05 PM.
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  13. #7
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    Frank Chimero shows you How To Have An Idea (well, one way, at least):
    ideas.gif


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    I think reading helps in stirring new ideas ---even reading food labels. Our world is filled with topics waiting to be discovered and rediscovered.

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    Thanks for posting that, Elwell--I knew I had stolen my idea from somewhere.

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    Parka Blogs <- Most dangerous blog for artists (and their wallets).
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  21. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by That fat kid View Post
    For instance, the Bobby Chiu idea is just a modification of the wolf in sheep's clothing idiom. It's just he's spun his own yarn in the execution by exchanging locale, creatures and the level in which the predator is wearing the clothing to make it fresh and HIS.
    And a big part of getting "original/new/good/whatever" ideas is exposing yourself to lots of things and ideas of others. When you know a lot of basic ideas, concepts, etc, and are aware of what already has been done, it's much easier (or not, depending on the subject) to take the same idea and take a step to the right, making the old idea look new. And when you have exposed yourself to lots of things, and are familiar with several things (about anything, really) you have more mental building blocks to re-design the idea.

    Personally I get lots of my "better" (using the word very loosely here) by accident thinking, like I remember what my 3D models look like when I wonk the "Symmetry" option (which usually makes them look like they're partly split in half) and then I wonder what that would look like if it were applied to a dragon and... yeah I guess it's kinda original http://www.putput.info/Miisa_Artpages/spacedragon.html

    But those are just random things that I can't really force out, and for more deliberate ideas I use the method in the comic that Elwell posted.

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  23. #12
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    whoa so many replies!

    @s.ketch: did you change your name and avatar since posting or am I just too tired... ;-) Yeah TED is always great. So, more coffee i guess ;-) and more talking to people. Yes that really helps! Not easy to find the right people though.

    @noah: yep, so true.

    @jeffx99: Hehe, a board game designer once told me, the best thing for getting ideas is time and a shower ;-)

    @fat kid: yea i guess the hard part is to find something really new. of course you never know if it is really new. there's a website with a huge database of movie and story "situations", like "hero falls in love with villains daughter" or "two brothers want the same thing", but I can't find it, i'll keep searching and post when i find it.

    @meloncov: yep right. i guess one has to overcome this initial friciton and get into the momentum of generating.

    @elwell: hehe great one! pretty much sums everything up. think i'll hang it on the wall ;-)

    @keithstewart: interesting, i used to read more a few years ago.. recently started again with a star wars novel =D

    @parka: yea mattiasa is so amazing, all his tiny little details that sum up to be great wholes.

    @tinybird: interesting! I usually think the opposite, that seeing so much other stuff just makes me repeat rather than doing something new. It frustrates me, too, because a always compare everything to my own work.


    so that's a nice list already, thanks a lot guys!

    cheers
    -a

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kfeeras View Post
    there's a website with a huge database of movie and story "situations", like "hero falls in love with villains daughter" or "two brothers want the same thing", but I can't find it, i'll keep searching and post when i find it.
    TVTropes?

    @tinybird: interesting! I usually think the opposite, that seeing so much other stuff just makes me repeat rather than doing something new.
    Well, it does require some conscious trying and practice, and memory to remember what had been and where (I fail at it too sometimes and unconsciously copy stuff I've seen), but as long as you're aware of the "cliches" at least, it's easier to not fall on them.

    Das Edit: Like... I once had a conversation about "originality" and eventually came to the conclusion that "everything is original if you've been living in a hole" since if you have not experienced things (watched movies/cartoons, played games, read book, done things) the things that are so common and overused in those look new and original, and somebody could be copying a game idea or a movie character but if you had not played said game and watched said movie (or read their TvTrope/Wiki entries) those would be new and original to you.
    A lot of originality is pretty relative.

    Edit the second:
    Like... I participate in a drawing challenge blog where you draw an Alphabet of mythology creatures, and at the start of the challenge the creature is described/shown to you. Depending on the monster, a lot of people may design something very similar to each other by accident by going with their first feel or create a trend (like with the apple tree nymph pretty much everyone drew ripe red apples in the background), but if you wanted to be, well, not be original or "new" really but at least bit different, you could search for this trend and go decidedly against it, thus creating something which in that blog at least, was slightly more different.

    Okay that last part didn't really have much to do with "good ideas" but it's lunch and by god I'm gonna ramble.

    Last edited by TinyBird; March 18th, 2011 at 06:20 AM.
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  26. #14
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    Yes! TvTropes! Awesome! Thanks! I've seen it in a XKCD Comic once and couldn't find it..

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  27. #15
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    But beware, for TVTropesWillRuinYourLife

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  28. #16
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    1. Be appreciative of other good ideas. Be a fan of quality so you can recognize it, when you arrive at it yourself.

    2. Free your mind, be yourself - No fear, no self-judgment, no taboos, no dogma, no such thing as a wrong notion, clear the way for your brain to make innovative connections without fear that it will be judged. Examine your wildest ideas for secret usable solutions hidden within the craziness.

    At least Icarus tried!


    My Process: Dead Rider Graphic Novel (Dark Horse Comics) plus oil paintings, pencils and other goodies:
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  30. #17
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    At least 5 thumbnails of ideas per day, every day.

    I am reminded of the bit in Art & Fear where one group of ceramics students gets an A if they create just one perfect pot in the whole semester. The other group gets an A if they produce a large enough number of pots in the semester. Apparently the students in the first group were largely frustrated and few got an A. In the second group there was much less frustration, many more got an A, and counter-intuitively the best pots in the class were from this group of students.

    In my experience, generating ideas has not been so different.

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  31. #18
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    hey guys, a little update. thanks for all the great posts. i started to follow your hints and it really helps.

    -> Quantity over Quality
    -> Combine unrelated things
    -> Analyzing other Ideas and think about how they may have come together
    -> sketching a LOT
    -> if I don't have a problem to solve, I make one up
    -> allowing myself some 'empty' time, without iphone, music, reading, occupying my mind however
    -> catch the information life throws at you and make informationade

    To be continued..

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