The Mac Lab

Tag: creative freedom

Earning Your Wings (Week 8)

by on Oct.24, 2011, under Blog

This is another secret of being in the zone—that when you are inspired, your work can be an inspiration to others. Being in the zone taps into your most natural self. And when you are in that place, you can contribute at a much higher level.
Sir Ken Robinson / The Element

Thanks to Paul B for proving that designing your logo can lead to amazing artwork. We’ll be talking about other rewards of displaying Mutant Artistic Ability (MAA). TAG will always flex its rules for X-Men. (Of course that term includes girls as well.)
— from Industrial Strength (Week 3) 

Is Paul’s work an inspiration to you? Is he displaying MAA (Mutant Artistic Ability)? Should TAG flex it’s rules?

I want every student to find his or her creative voice. I want each of you to eventually earn creative freedom. But it takes time and effort. It takes a critical eye and the willingness to push your work that final 10% towards perfection. So few of you have ever been asked to take good work and make it better, to take the improved version and make it exceptional, to take the exceptional version and push it towards perfection. For many of you, the good solution has always been good enough.

Not any more.

Iteration means the act of repeating a process usually with the aim of approaching a desired goal or target or result. Each repetition of the process is also called an “iteration,” and the results of one iteration are used as the starting point for the next iteration.

In the Mac Lab, good enough is simply the phase where we begin to refine. It’s when we begin to iterate. It’s where we begin to learn about the final 10% of the creative journey.

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Break the Bars (Week 28)

by on Apr.04, 2011, under Blog

The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.
William Blake

And the artist who never alters her technique, builds bars around her imagination. I keep pushing each of you to break out of the confines of your stale routines, to try something new. Have you?

If you have, great! Keep pushing into unexplored territory. If you haven’t, if you’re still repeating the same steps over and over, what are you waiting for? Set your imagination free!

Food for Thought: How long has it been since you’ve explored the links on the Inspiration page? Everyone, without exception, must spend at least 10 minutes revisiting our electronic morgue file in class before starting to work on your own projects today.

Tip of the Day: My laptop decided to have a nervous breakdown yesterday so I had no way to record video tutorials for you today. But, since I wouldn’t want you to think I never practice what I preach, I did create a project for my Filmmaking Principles and Education class over the weekend. Here’s the rough cut (more editing and polishing to do). No, I’d never filmed with the 5D before. Christopher Canel gave me a ten minute introduction to the camera and the rest was pure experimentation. Is it perfect? Not even close. But it did open new creative frontiers for me.

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Five by Five (Week 25)

by on Mar.14, 2011, under Blog

You’re never finished in the Mac Lab! The motto I invented to rid the room of idlers (or at least that was the idea at the time) and a truism in the artist’s world. Oh, many will disagree, but I’ll tell you what defines done in the so-called real world: DEADLINES.
Skocko / The Guiding Light

Deadlines will come and go over the next few months but the biggie is in June when the school year ends. We’ve got one-third of the year left and this is the third in which you’ll produce the bulk of your finest work. You’re beginning to wield the computer as an artist’s tool and it’s time to push your art to the next level.

If you read the post at the other end of the quotation at the top of the page, you’ll see it contains a story about the evolution of this poster. Just like two years ago, the district art show is looming in our future. Will your work be chosen to represent Valhalla and the Mac Lab?

Kudos: Philip Behnam is on a roll right now. Check out his series of minimalist movie posters: 01 | 02 | 03 | or the trio displayed together. I wish I’d have insisted Philip save the early versions as well because he’s worked as hard to refine these designs as Sarah did with her Africa poster. It’s this type of attention to detail and work ethic that will take you far in life.

Are you reading me five by five?

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The Elements and Principles of Creative Freedom (Week 10)

by on Nov.07, 2009, under Blog

john_c_01_smOut of clutter, find simplicity.
From discord, find harmony.
In the middle of difficulty, lies opportunity.
Albert Einstein / The Three Rules of Work

Interesting, isn’t it, how those words ring true when coming from a legend rather than Skocko? A quick search reveals that I’ve asked you to simplify your ideas 17 times in the past two weeks (here and here). I’m sure you’d agree that I’ve repeated it in class too many times to count. My search for an appropriate quotation to frame the importance of learning and following rules was cut short when I encountered the above. It’s a new quote to me as well. You’ll be applying it to your projects. I’ll be applying it to my students. Working together, we’ll add to this collection of excellence and make this the best year yet in the Mac Lab!

On Friday I announced that Earned Creative Freedom™ would begin on Monday. To qualify, one must have a minimum of 300 positive minutes, art in all three galleries: Self Portrait | Logo | Poster | and abide by the rules in the Mac Lab. I added posters (John C) to the mix because it’s the final (initial) required project for Digital Arts students. Three additional projects will be required of students in 3D. (I’ll explain in class. Don’t worry. You’ll want to do these.) All students are required to employ and explain the Elements and Principles of Design as well as Color Theory in the poster project. Your explanations will be incorporated into your portfolio for all projects from this point forward.

I’m going to repeat this because there’s simply no escaping this responsibility: You will employ the Elements and Principles of Design as well as Color Theory in all projects from this point forward. I will give you more specifics as the week progresses. For now, you need to read and begin to become conversant in the Elements and Principles of Design as well as Color Theory. Are you catching my drift? I’d bookmark those pages if I were you… NOW!

One More Time: Read the Elements and Principles of Design and Color Theory right now. This is NOT optional. Read those pages and embrace the fact that you’re going to learn and apply this information… for the rest of the year. And yes, acquiring this knowledge will require you to do some independent research as well. Wikipedia is the starting point of your research, not the end.

Must Watch Video Info: Christina P is a first year student who joined the class late. She’s worked hard, listened to my suggestions, and has earned my eternal gratitude for providing this golden teaching moment: Watch this video. Please watch this correction and clarification. 3D students, you’ll also benefit from watching this Digital Arts video. Digital Arts students, you’ll definitely want to watch this 3D video. Clarification for 3D students (and anyone thinking about employing 3D into his or her workflow). And just in case it wasn’t self-evident, ALL students should watch ALL of those videos.

As for posters… 01 | 02 | 03 are example galleries. When in doubt, keep it simple and elegant. Students in 3D will want to check these galleries 04 | 05 (under construction). No illustrations in 3D. Use pure typography. Digital Artists might also try typographic solutions as well. Oh, and did I mention the Elements and Principles of Design and Color Theory?

Participation and Your Responsibilities: Watch this video.

Free Software: For Mac Users (last 3 days). For anyone: Sync your files from the Mac Lab to your computer at home (PC or Mac). I’ve already installed DropBox on our computers so you can just sign up for your free 2.25GB account here if you’d like to use it. You’ll have to download and install DropBox at home to complete the circuit and get the extra 250MB of storage.

1110: Since I know for a fact that some of you blew off yesterday’s assignment, I’m giving you a second chance to read, watch, and follow the instructions (above). Your projects will reveal whether or not you’re holding up your end of the deal.

1112: Since we’ve spoken about getting inspiration from others and compared Microsoft’s packaging strategies to Apple’s (Remember: Microsoft, not Apple, produced that video), I thought I’d share an atypically candid comment from an MS manager: One of the things that people say an awful lot about the Apple Mac is that the OS is fantastic, that it’s very graphical and easy to use. What we’ve tried to do with Windows 7 — whether it’s traditional format or in a touch format — is create a Mac look and feel in terms of graphics. We’ve significantly improved the graphical user interface, but it’s built on that very stable core Vista technology, which is far more stable than the current Mac platform, for instance. (Via)

Please, no Mac/PC flame wars. As I’ve said in class, I hope Windows 7 is stable and slick. When companies are forced to compete, it’s good for the rest of us. We all get better products!

Speaking of competition, how’s your own coming along? Remember, you’re competing with that person in the mirror, pushing him or her toward artistic excellence. Yes, the Mac Lab’s not your typical classroom and it’s about to become even more unique because I’m not going to be around for a while. I’m depending on all of you to hold up your end of the deal this week and next. It’s going to take teamwork and perseverance. Help one another, work hard, and stay on task!

The classroom will be open each morning around 6:15. I’ll be in this morning and next Wednesday to Friday to open the lab. Today, I’m flying north to say goodbye to my dad. Services are tonight and tomorrow but since the burial won’t happen until Tuesday, there’s no Mac Lab Saturday School™ this weekend. Sorry. Next week I have Final Cut Pro training on Wednesday, an all-day Arts, Media, and Entertainment Pathway meeting on Thursday, and a CS4 Seminar that Friday so you’re on your own for the next seven school days. Can you all hold it together for me? I’m depending on you!

As for updates, I’m at the mercy of WiFi. See the 0804 entry here for details. I expect to provide daily updates but as The Little Prince says, “One never knows.”

Motto for this Week and Next: You’re Never Finished in the Mac Lab!

Work on your posters, logos, self portraits, and Websites. Strive for excellence, watch the videos, and help one another. When all around you agree that your work should be in the gallery, email a correctly composed JPG that’s at least 1,000 pixels wide or tall to and I’ll either put it in the gallery or make suggestions on how it might be improved. Do NOT send anything that AT LEAST three others haven’t confirmed to be worthy of inclusion in the gallery. Remember: 3 then Me. In your email, INCLUDE THE NAMES of the three who agree with you. Unsure? Watch this, this, this, this, and this video for posters and this video for logos. Simplify!

Still confused? Scroll down and check out prior posts. Here, I’ll make it easy: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Galleries: Self Portrait | Logo | Poster | And don’t forget the Elements and Principles of Design or Color Theory (details above). See? It’s all right here for you.

Danny O, Christian L, Samantha P, and Christopher F are still on for the CETPA Digital Learning Symposium next Tuesday. You’ll be representing the Mac Lab, Valhalla, and the Grossmont Union High School District at this state-wide conference. No pressure. 😉 Be sure to say hi to Jack O’Connell and the other Edu-bigwigs who stop by to see what you’re up to. Alternate transportation is being arranged and I’ll have an interesting lesson for you and all Mac Lab students next Tuesday. Sorry I won’t be there but this is a perfect opportunity to prove that our online model works with or without my presence.

The lesson? It’s a secret. It will, however, pit the four of you against all the other classes. 😛

Psst: Got DropBox?

1113: Wow! It takes a lot of time to reply to all the student submissions. Reminder: There’s no loophole in the 3 name requirement. If a student doesn’t want his or her name included, he or she probably doesn’t want to hurt your feelings. Everyone: More attention to detail! Spot the obvious mistakes and fix them. Make the most of today.

Helpful Tip: Don’t rely on your friends for gallery submission approval. Go to the kids you think do the best work in class and ask for their opinion. Save us both some time. Then, and only then, keep those submissions coming!

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