Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Creative Methods

I’ve always been interested in the processes creative people use to produce their work. I’m particularly fascinated by the methods used by people in creative industries other than the visual arts.

So I was very excited to come across this book about one of the world’s best chefs at his restaurant just outside Barcelona.

A Day at ElBulli: An insight into the ideas, methods and creativity of Ferran Adrià.

ElBulli is “one of the world's most famous, sought after and mysterious restaurants. Having held three Michelin stars since 1997, and regularly voted Best Restaurant in the World by a panel of 500 industry professionals, elBulli has been at the very forefront of the world restaurant scene Ferran Adria became head chef in 1987.”

The way they work is fascinating and the book goes into great detail about exactly how they do things.

The restaurant closes for 6 months of the year while the creative team develop new dishes, concepts and techniques. These are then developed in exact detail in the restaurant kitchens in the weeks before it opens for the summer season. At the end of the season, everything is assessed and the creative process begins again. The restaurant is like a workshop where new ideas are developed, produced and shared with the guests.

During the 6 months of creative development, Ferran Adria and his team explore ideas and possibilities from all over the world, and develop new techniques from other disciplines - such as art, fashion, architecture and nature. The process is one of extensive research, testing and development leading to the production of exciting and highly-desirable new dishes with which to delight their customers.

One of the reasons this book inspired and encouraged me so much is that it shows there are different ways of developing and producing creative ideas. It doesn’t always have to be a daily grind (though when the restaurant is open the amount and pace of work each day is phenomenal).

I’ve always read widely and am excited by new ideas and concepts. Many of these seem random and are little more that hyperlinks in my imagination and understanding. I’ve often been criticised for being too much of an “ideas person”. But I like the idea of allowing time to let these ideas brew and develop, to research them more extensively and to follow wherever they lead.

In recent months I’ve been developing ideas about sticks, ribbons, doors, words, colours, clouds and lots more. They all seem disparate and I’ve been tempted to abandon them and get better focused. But the ideas continue to niggle away at me.

More recently I’ve been thinking about putting on a few shows in 2011. Suddenly many of these ideas have started clicking into place and fitting together. Now I need to push these ideas through into production and show them.

So I like the idea of a broad framework for each year of

• researching and developing new ideas;
• sketching and modelling these ideas;
• producing and exhibiting them.

Obviously it will not be as neat and tidy as that and there will be a lot of overlap.

But it helps to think that there are other ways of working creatively and successfully.

What about you? Do you have any particular processes for developing and executing creative ideas?

Definitely a mull it over sort of person and someone who has to let work evolve. I will get an idea and ponder it for a while or have a person in mind and start a project but as I work with it the fabrics and paints or whatever I am working with might suggest a different turn. Sometimes I play around with a medium to see what it will do before going with the flow on it.

I made a puppet the other week for a little boy for his birthday. It started off with a crocodile oven glove puppet design and a crocheted dinosaur puppet inspiration and then evolved from there, at one point I thought it was going to turn into a fish but in the end it was a dinosaur Not the most artistic thing in the world but a good bit of fun and his mum liked it. He wasn't bothered as it isn't a tractor :D
Custard in footgear - or more precisely warm custard in gumboots (cold custard would just be perverse!) tends to do it for me everytime. Yep!
Joanna ... good to hear your process ... made me laugh that all the little boy wanted was a tractor. Artists are never appreciated!

Anonymous ... you made me laugh too ... but for very different reasons!
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