Random Acts of Making Stuff

March 7th, 2010 by Jason Hardy
...because making is part of things. Years ago, when Justin and I started putting together the first version of The Match Factory, we had this phrase that we used as an answer to why we are doing this. "...because making is part of things." This awkward phrase really stuck with me. It captures the spirit of open-ended discovery without heavy-handed goals or judgments.  Why do we make stuff? Because making is part of things. We both recognized early on that a workaday lifestyle could leave you feeling too focused on measurable goals and results. For the most part, design is about solving a specific problem. Art, on the other hand, can be more about personal expression. In an effort to walk the line between the two, I try to make time in my schedule for random acts of making. The images in this post are examples of time spent messing about. I think of them as design debris, lingering residue from thoughts and projects. Doodles and leftovers or something like that. Nothing really "good," but then again, making something good isn't really the point. So I try to take the time to make things for no reason other than to enjoy the act of thinking creatively and expressing it visually. Now that I live in a tiny apartment in San Francisco, I have limited space available for mess-making. So I'm forced to use the tools that are readily available. A laptop, a camera, a sketchbook and a scanner. Often times, my schedule is so busy that it really comes down to either drawing or making something on the computer. Occasionally I am able to get off the computer, but I still find value in experimenting, messing about and designing digitally, even if it isn't as tactile and tangible as making something by hand. I think my favorite aspect of these random acts of making is that it allows me to make things without consequences or judgments because the only goal was to make it in the first place and also because, for the most part, few people ever see it (even if I do share some of them online). As designers, our work is constantly being judged. Once you are able to get your work through the critiques of clients and creative directors it has to go out into the world, where millions of people are instantly able to love it or hate it. Sometimes that pressure can take some of the fun out of it. The irony of making things without specific goals is that it actually ends up making me better at my job as a designer. Ideas hatched in the friendly confines of non-client mess-making end up finding their way into client work. Sometimes its just a color scheme or a texture. Sometimes its an idea that was never even realized. Of course there are many things that never pan out or that end up looking ridiculous. But that's the whole point really, its a safe way to to try things. The trick is to approach it without hoping for anything in specific. Otherwise it just becomes more work. My dad has told me that as a child, I would get really upset at night if I felt like I hadn't had enough time to draw that day. I loved hearing that. It reminded me of how great it was to continually be thrilled and surprised by your own creations. There is a time and place for creating things that are thought out, meticulously crafted and executed, but there is also a time to revel in the joy of unexpected results and random mess-making. Jason Hardy, Designer. jasonhardy.info

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