Art for Art's Sake

Last November I was invited to participate in an article for HOW Magazine that took a very hands-on approach to creativity. Author Jim Krause curated four exercises from his new book, D:30: Exercises for Designers, and four creative professionals—including myself—took a swing at them. My favorite of the four was the “Make a face” activity:

Activity 14: Make a face.

Here, we’ll be making letters from things. Good sources of things include kitchen drawers, clothes closets, jewelry chests, craft supply boxes, sewing kits, hardware stashes, office supply caches and garage shelves. As far as a camera goes, use the best camera you have—whether that’s a smartphone camera, a pocket camera or a DSLR.

Are you at home? At the office? perfect. Chances are, everything you’ll need for this project is on hand. the instructions for this activity are simple: build a letter of the alphabet (uppercase, lowercase or both) using material from sources like those listed above. snap a picture of the letter (photo tips are on the next spread) and then clear your workspace and start on another character. Create an entire alphabet this way. Use the same material for each letter or build each from something different: It’s entirely up to you. Consider your options, gather building material for a few minutes and then get started.

I had a pantry full of leftover baking/decorating supplies that I’d used for a fancy birthday cake a few years ago, so I decided to create my letters out of these materials. I spent a messy Sunday afternoon smearing peanut butter, drizzling syrup, and scattering sugar crystals all over my dining room table. Unfortunately I only had a couple of hours to complete an entire alphabet, so I couldn’t spend too much time on each letter. I would love to return to this project at some future date and dedicate even more time to each letter and tighten everything up. But for the materials I had on hand as well as the limited amount of time, I think my alphabet turned out pretty “sweet”!

Sweet Type by Wendy Lee Oldfield
The supplies!

The supplies!

It’s really neat seeing how each participant interpreted the same activity and the vastly different creations that they made from it. Take a look at the May 2014 issue of HOW Magazine to see all of the exercise results here