Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Brainstorming For Illustrators: 4. Fortune Telling

Most brainstorming techniques involve the interaction of a group of participants. These techniques, and there are many of them, are used by businesses and organizations to solve problems more quickly. Unfortunately, as illustrators, we mostly work alone, so group brainstorming activities aren’t much use to us. However, there are some group techniques where the underlying principle can be adapted for individual brainstorming. Fortune telling prediction is one of them.

Brainstorming Techniques

Fortune Telling Prediction

Not normally recommended in the illustration business, fortune telling is a great way to divorce yourself from your own bag of tricks and old habits when it comes to problem solving. Fortune telling is to make a prediction; to declare or indicate in advance; to foretell on the basis of observation, experience, or conjecture. In the business, it generally isn’t a good thing for an illustrator to approach an assignment by trying to predict what a client would want. This approach can end up badly. Believe it or not, clients generally don’t have the best ideas, in fact most of them don’t even like their own ideas, not to mention the fact that they aren’t illustrators, and don’t know what would work best pictorially. So it’s best to stay out of the client’s head. In fact that’s the only rule about brainstorming by fortune telling.

This brainstorming method works the same way as a fortuneteller does. It is an effective, entertaining, and fun way to generate ideas. It requires the fortuneteller, aka, illustrator, to try to identify thoughts in whomever they are attempting to “read”. The group version of this brainstorming technique involves using other people to come up with thoughts. This interpretation uses only other people’s personas. So instead of asking another person about a particular problem directly, you suppose how they might answer.

Continuing on in the same manner as the examples in Brainstorming For Illustrators: 1, 2, and 3, the example assignment is to create an illustrated icon for the subject of brainstorming. More specifically, the fortuneteller, aka, me, the illustrator, will try to suppose what different people think of, when addressing the subject of brainstorming. For this method, it is possible to choose anyone, famous or historical person, family member, classmate, or acquaintance to use as a subject. Below are some selections and supposed responses. Whether they are realistic accurate predictions of what these people would say is inconsequential. However they have provided inspiration for ideas that can be used to visualize an image for brainstorming, and they were generated in an unorthodox manner that conventional conjecture could not achieve.

Oscar Wilde – “What makes an artist think they are an artist.”
Winston Churchill --  “A link in a chain of destiny.”
Hilary Clinton – “Globetrotting by way of imagination.”
Jonas Salk – “Germinating an idea.”
Steve Jobs – “A thought tsunami.”
Kathy Griffin – “A twisted sense of humor.”
Moe Howard – “Being hit by a ton of bricks.”
Chuck Yeager – To soar among the clouds. 
Groucho Marx – “For a serious thinker, someone other than me.”
Harpo Marx – “Honk, honk, honk.”
Rudolph Nureyev – “Leaping freely in mid air.”
Policeman – “Walking down any street and you’ll get lots of ideas.”
Cabbie – “Lane weaving to get ahead quickly.”
John Dillinger -- “A blackjack and some brass knuckles makes for some thinkin’.”

Below are a few thumbnail sketches inspired fortune telling brainstorming.

Marx & Churchill. © 2013 Don Arday.
Nureyev & Yeager. © 2013 Don Arday.

Clinton & Cabbie. © 2013 Don Arday.
Dillinger & Griffin. © 2013 Don Arday.

Illustrators sometimes become very self-conscious about presenting outlandish concepts, especially for business types of problems, but clients are always looking for unusual ideas. The idea of combining Edvard Munchs The Scream with John Dillinger and Kathy Griffin is about as peculiar as it gets, but finding a conceptual way to make a clients message stand out should always be in the mind of an illustrator. Fortune telling can provide that unusual idea, and clients don’t care how am idea comes about. Metaphorically speaking, they are less interested in how a clock works then how to tell the time.