Creativity

Colorful Statements: The Art of Illustrator Eliot Wyatt

18 September 2018

From Adobe Create Magazine:

Eliot Wyatt likes to say that his personality and his work are quite similar: “a bit weird, fun, and loud.” An illustrator based in Bristol, England, Wyatt creates colorful—and sometimes a little trippy—work that has enlivened high-profile campaigns for clients like Airbnb, Buzzfeed, and Nescafé.

. . . .

Wyatt’s subjects range from politics and social issues to celebrities, delicious-looking foods, fantasy automobiles, and really cool sneakers. A candy-colored palette and a flat, nearly two-dimensional look make for a very distinctive body of work.

. . . .

When asked about how his approach is unique, Wyatt is thoughtful. “I don’t know if it’s a bad thing, but I wouldn’t say there is anything particularly unique in the way I approach my work,” he says. “I will sketch out ideas, develop the best ones, and then move into a final image. What is unique is the thoughts and ideas that run throughout my illustration work and the way that becomes identifiable as my style. It’s not necessarily the way you approach a project; rather, it’s the way you think about it. For example, it could be thinking about a different way to view a particular scene or object, or how you may be able to refer to something without directly placing it in the image. These decisions contribute just as much to your ‘style’ of work as the aesthetic you choose to work in.”

. . . .

And what, in his mind, constitutes a successful piece? “For me, it is when both the aesthetic and the ideas are strong in a single image. Sometimes an illustration can lead too much with the aesthetic, which ultimately makes for a weaker image. Typically, all work, either client or personal, starts out the same way. My initial sketches are developed further in to larger sketches, which allows for more focus on creating a solid composition and framing of the image.”

Link to the rest at Adobe Create Magazine, which includes several examples of the Wyatt’s art.

PG is familiar with writing exercises but wondered if authors engage in other practices that help jumpstart or expand their creative efforts.

For example, is a character sketch the equivalent of a visual artist sketching out an idea?

To the best of PG’s recollections, visual arts and writing are centered in different parts of the human brain, but he could be wrong.

Poultry Feeder Litigation

27 August 2018

From Rebecca Tushnet’s 43(B)log:

CTB sued HS for making an allegedly exact replica of CTB’s poultry feeder, infringing its registered trademarks for product configuration and color (color on the supplemental register).

Pan feeders are the industry standard. The usual configuration: a pan (bottom portion in which feed collects), grill (top portion, usually made up of spokes of varying number, size, and shape), and center cone (feed distribution mechanism). Feeders are sold to roughly forty “integrators,” who own the chickens and dictate which feeders individual growers may use.  Also of relevance, CTB also had a patent for a poultry feeder, which expired in 2010. The patent said it was aimed at providing a “barrier for preventing birds and animals from bodily climbing into the feeder yet simultaneously allowing those that do force their way inside to easily exit without sustaining injury or damaging the feeder apparatus.” (It discloses a locking brood gate and a mechanism for rotationally unlocking and locking the pan structure and grill structure together.

. . . .

Right after the patent expired, CTB filed a trademark application for the configuration of its feeder, which was rejected on functionality grounds. CTB responded and the PTO issued a registration:

The mark consists of a three-dimensional configuration of a unique mechanized poultry feeder which includes a pan structure and a grill structure. When viewed from any side, the perimeter of the feeder has a generally octagonal shape as it has two generally vertical sides, one defined at the bottom of the pan structure and the other defined at the top of the grill structure, and four generally diagonal sides which inter connect the vertical sides to the horizontal sides. Internal angles between the diagonal sides and the vertical sides are generally smaller than the internal angles between the diagonal sides and the horizontal sides. The matter shown in broken lines is not part of the mark and serves only to show the position or placement of the mark.

TM registration

CTB also sought to register the configuration and the color combination of red pan and gray grill, which was rejected on functionality grounds.  Then it sought to register only the color combination, which application was rejected multiple times for lack of inherent distinctiveness and ended up on the supplemental register.

. . . .

Another patent owned by CTB says: “[I]t is relatively well known within the agricultural industry that adult turkeys and chickens are attracted to the color red and, therefore, many adult turkey and chicken feeding trays are now colored red in order to entice the adult turkeys and chickens to move towards the red feeding tray so that it is easier for the adult turkey and chickens to find their food.” And it touts the virtues of reflective particles, which attract feeding animals, “preferably metallic flecks or flakes, such as titanium or aluminum, or any other metallic or non-metallic material that will bond with the nonreflective material of the feeder.”

. . . .

The patent stated that the area created by the grill and its individual spokes and hub allowed for the functionality of birds entering and exiting the feeder without injury.  CTB’s ads also touted a “patented feeder grill design [that allows] young birds to exit pans easily” and so on, providing further evidence of functionality. The parties agreed that the pan underneath the grill was shaped functionally. This dicated the V-shaped profile of the pan claimed as part of the trade dress. CTB argued that the section connecting the upper grill structure to the lower pan member wasn’t functional: the “two vertical walls, partly formed from the pan structure.” However, the “double-pan lip,” as touted in CTB ads, functioned to save feed.

. . . .

Color:  The parties’ products consisted of a red pan and a grill that is silver with metal flakes or shiny gray. Here’s a great legal sentence: “[I]t is undisputed that chickens are attracted to shiny objects.” CTB argued that metal flakes weren’t relevant because it was claiming only the color gray. But the use of metal flakes in a gray color scheme could be functional. Plus, the parties both used shiny gray, so CTB’s argument meant that it wouldn’t be using an embodiment its own trade dress, which the court thus concluded was red and shiny gray.  There was no presumption of validity here, and CTB’s own patent and ads touted the advantages of using red and shiny gray. Other CTB patents, and other industry patents, also identified red as functional for attracting poultry.  [If functional for poultry, why not for people?]  CTB’s witness Cole also testified that he conducted tests and found that red and shiny gray was close to the best.

CTB argued that there was no scientific evidence to support the conclusion that chickens are more attracted to these colors versus other colors. CTB misperceived on whom the burden lay, and didn’t show that the colors were “ornamental, incidental, or arbitrary” or were chosen for any reason other than functionality. Dismissing its own position in its patent as “apocryphal lore” couldn’t avoid summary judgment.

. . . .

CTB argued that it could still have rights in a color combo, but “a functional arrangement of functional parts remains functional. The undisputed evidence shows that, historically, plaintiff utilized a red pan and metal grill for functional reasons, and, more recently, plaintiff utilizes a red pan and gray plastic grill with metal flakes for functional reasons.”

. . . .

[T]he court went on to deal with remaining unfair competition claims as a matter of failure to show damages/proximate cause instead of pointing out that functionality ended anything but, perhaps, a claim for insufficient labeling. There was no evidence of any harm, just a theory of price erosion.

Link to the rest at Rebecca Tushnet’s 43(B)log

For visitors to TPV who may not have had personal experience with chicken feeders, here is a photo of one of CTB’s chicken feeders with enthusiastic consumers:

And, pursuant to equal treatment of each of the litigants, here’s a photo of an HS (Hog Slat) feeder:

In the lower photo, the chicks are beginning to fledge – grow their adult feathers. Thus, they’re fledglings.

Art by algorithm

25 August 2018

From Aeon:

When IBM’s Deep Blue chess computer defeated the world champion Garry Kasparov in 1997, humanity let out a collective sigh, recognising the loss of an essential human territory to the onslaught of thinking machines. Chess, that inscrutably challenging game, with more possible game states than there are atoms in the Universe, was no longer a canvas for individual human achievement. Newsweek called it ‘The Brain’s Last Stand’.

Why was the loss so upsetting to so many? Not because chess is complicated, per se – calculating differential equations is complicated, and we are happy to cede the work to computers – but because chess is creative. We talk about the personality, the aesthetics of chess greats such as Kasparov and Bobby Fischer, seeing a ‘style of play’ in the manipulation of pieces on a grid. Chess was a foil, a plane of endeavour, for storytellers as diverse as Vladimir Nabokov and Satyajit Ray, and we celebrate its grandmasters as remarkable synthesisers of logic and creativity. It was particularly galling, then, for Kasparov to lose to a machine based not on its creativity but its efficiency at analysing billions of possible moves. Deep Blue wasn’t really intelligent at all, but it was very good at avoiding mistakes in chess. One might argue that its victory not only knocked humanity down a peg but demonstrated that chess itself is not, or does not have to be, the aesthetic space we imagined it.

And yet Kasparov, after having lost to what he later called ‘a $10 million alarm clock’, continued to play against machines, and to reflect on the consequences of computation for the game of kings. And not just against them: for the past two decades, Kasparov has been exploring an idea he calls ‘Advanced Chess’, where humans collaborate with computer chess programs against other hybrid teams, sometimes called ‘Centaurs’. The humans maintain strategic control of the game while automating the memorisation and basic calculation on which great chess depends.

. . . .

Kasparov argues that the introduction of machine intelligence to chess did not diminish but enhanced the aesthetics of the game, creating a new space for creativity at the game’s highest levels. Today, players of ‘freestyle’ chess work with high-end chess systems, databases of millions of games and moves, and often other human collaborators too. Freestyle teams can easily defeat both top grandmasters and chess programs, and some of the best centaur teams are made up of amateur players who have created better processes for combining human and machine intelligence.

. . . .

We are all centaurs now, our aesthetics continuously enhanced by computation. Every photograph I take on my smartphone is silently improved by algorithms the second after I take it. Every document autocorrected, every digital file optimised. Musicians complain about the death of competence in the wake of Auto-Tune , just as they did in the wake of the synthesiser in the 1970s. It is difficult to think of a medium where creative practice has not been thoroughly transformed by computation and an attendant series of optimisations. The most profound changes have occurred in fields such as photography, where the technical knowledge required to produce competent photographs has been almost entirely eclipsed by creative automation. Even the immediacy of live performance gets bracketed by code through social media and the screens we watch while recording events that transpire right before our eyes.

. . . .

Sociologists such as Pierre Bourdieu painstakingly mapped the deeply social dimensions of cultural judgment in the 20th century, but today the deeply intersubjective nature of taste is not just obvious but almost subliminal. Algorithms are shaping the reception of works at the forefront, but also the periphery. The entire horizon of our cultural perspectives is shaped by the filtering mechanisms that populate our news feeds, prioritise our inboxes and rank our search results. And they are, of course, built out of our own collective responses to prior stimuli, modelling a collective aesthetic project that we (often unknowingly) participate in with every click and purchase.

Link to the rest at Aeon

The 7 Habits Of Highly Creative People

23 April 2018

From Medium:

The most commonly held belief about creativity is that it’s elusive, esoteric and unique only to the anointed few.

The ancient Greeks believed that creativity was this divine attendant spirit that came to human beings from some distant and unknowable source, for distant and unknowable reasons. They called these spirits daemons. The Romans had a similar idea as well but called the spirit a genius.

Centuries later, not much has changed. The only difference is that we no longer attribute creativity to divine spirits, but to special individuals. We think that it’s only Beethoven, Picasso and Mozart who have creative genius.

Except that’s not true.

. . . .

1. Steal Like An Artist

There is a truth that the aspiring creative must first recognise. We need only turn to Austin Kleon’s book, Steal Like an Artist, to learn this:

“What a good artist understands is that nothing comes from nowhere. All creative work builds on what came before. Nothing is completely original.”

One must realise that the idea and inspiration for a piece of work comes from many sources at once. Every new idea is just a mashup or a remix of previous ideas. It’s why, quoting Jonathan Lethem, Kleon writes that “when people call something ‘original,’ nine out of ten times they just don’t know the references or the original sources involved.”

Hence the recommendation — steal like an artist.

The good artist emulates the style of another as closely as he can. The great artist selects elements from others’ work and incorporates them into his own mix of influences. He does so tastefully, knowing that the right fusion will create something that is uniquely his, although not completely original.

. . . .

5. Give Yourself Permission To Suck

Creating more work sounds like a good idea in theory, but it’s difficult in application. The single and most important reason is that we don’t give ourselves permission to suck.

Stephen Pressfield knows this too. In The War of Art, he names the fear that all creatives have — he calls it the Resistance.

“The amateur, on the other hand, over-identifies with his avocation, his artistic aspiration. He defines himself by it. He is a musician, a painter, a playwright.Resistance loves this. Resistance knows that the amateur composer will never write his symphony because he is overly invested in its success and over-terrified of its failure. The amateur takes it so seriously it paralyses him.”

The problem is that we’ve been trained to tie our self-worth to our accomplishments. If that’s the case, who then, would willingly create a piece of work that would be used to judge him?

For this reason, Pressfield says that we must turn from amateur to professional. Only then can we produce truly creative work.

“Resistance wants us to stake our self-worth, our identity, our reason-for-being, on the response of others to our work. Resistance knows we can’t take this. No one can. The professional blows critics off. He doesn’t even hear them. Critics, he reminds himself, are the unwitting mouthpieces of Resistance.”

The way to creativity is to create a lot, and the way to create a lot is to give ourselves permission to suck. People will forget the mistakes and garbage we make, but will remember our best works.

Link to the rest at Medium

The key to surviving the forthcoming robot revolution

31 January 2018

From The New York Post:

Millions of Americans are fearful that robots will take their jobs.

And rightly so, say some recent studies. A 2017 study from Forrester Research projected that 25 million jobs will be axed from the US workforce over the next decade because of automation, but only 15 million jobs will be created in their place. Another widely cited 2013 study from Oxford University found that as much as 47 percent of the US workforce could be at risk of losing their jobs to automation within the next 20 years, particularly those workers in sectors like transportation, logistics and commercial retail.

. . . .

Other research takes a more optimistic view: A report out this week from professional services firm Accenture and the World Economic Forum projects that as few as 16 percent of jobs “are at risk of displacement … after accounting for potential job gains that would arise from the same trends.”

“There will obviously be some displacement, but I think, net-net, these technologies really allow for the expansion of human consciousness and the expansion of jobs,” said Brian Uzzi, a professor at the Northwestern University McCormick School of Engineering. “It shouldn’t be thought of as machines substituting for jobs, but it’s going to be about job growth in current areas.”

. . . .

Whatever the numbers ultimately turn out to be, they’re likely to worry people with no STEM or engineering backgrounds to speak of — the actors, writers, English and psychology majors of the world. The good news though: Even if you don’t have a tech background, automation may help you at work.

Indeed, Uzzi and other experts believe that the future for such workers will revolve around using AI to enhance their efficiency and productivity, rather than regarding it as a job-taking threat. These experts see the selling point of human labor as residing in humans’ trademark creativity, sympathy and intuition — qualities not even the most advanced of automatons can effectively replicate.

LivePerson is one tech firm that’s proving that people with non-STEM backgrounds can find work in this changing environment. The New York-based company, which creates chatbots for clients in sectors like hospitality or telecommunications, employs a battalion of trained actors and linguists to write the content that customers interact with digitally.

Whatever the numbers ultimately turn out to be, they’re likely to worry people with no STEM or engineering backgrounds to speak of — the actors, writers, English and psychology majors of the world. The good news though: Even if you don’t have a tech background, automation may help you at work.

Indeed, Uzzi and other experts believe that the future for such workers will revolve around using AI to enhance their efficiency and productivity, rather than regarding it as a job-taking threat. These experts see the selling point of human labor as residing in humans’ trademark creativity, sympathy and intuition — qualities not even the most advanced of automatons can effectively replicate.

. . . .

Bradbury and his team develop the chatbots’ voices and written content — “very much a different job,” he explained, than what their coworkers on the programming side do. He likened his company’s left brain/right brain structure, in which writers and engineers work side by side, to using Microsoft Word: “It’s a different job to write the words into the word processor than to build the code into the word processor [and] decide where the buttons go.”

Psychology is yet another industry already benefiting from AI, Uzzi said, pointing out emerging technologies that diagnose patients’ mental health challenges and aid licensed psychologists in developing treatment plans for them more expeditiously and effectively.

Link to the rest at The New York Post and thanks to Judith for the tip.

Is Creativity Finally Dead?

24 January 2018

From Medium:

Creativity has been on a downward spiral in many segments of society as a result of profound information overload. We can call up information on almost any topic with a few clicks of the keyboard. As a result, we’ve gained massive amounts of awareness into the way our world works and into things and people and places of which we would previously have never been exposed. And yet we’ve lost something, too: We’ve lost a sense of the powerful dangers of knowledge. We’ve lost the ability to create meaning and substance out of the power of not-knowing.

. . . .

Not long ago, there existed a phenomenon called “not knowing.” Pre-internet, there were times when “I don’t know” was not just an acceptable answer to a question—it was the only answer. Pre-internet, people would say, “I don’t know,” and move on with their lives, rather than immediately Googling the answer to whatever question was being asked. Sometimes you simply didn’t know and moved on with your life. Other times, you didn’t know, and so you created an answer by fashioning a story that explained things in a way that made sense to you. Mythology, world religion, and the earliest days of science, exploration, and discovery were all rooted in the attempt to craft a story that fit the reality mankind perceived to exist.

. . . .

With more access to more information than at any point in human history, society has become incurious and willfully ignorant about things that we should never have allowed to slip aside. Most damaging of all, an incurious culture is the fastest, most effective way to destroy creativity and genius.

. . . .

In a time when people didn’t immediately know everything, society fostered curiosity, exploration, and discovery. The thrill of the new was sparked by a dissatisfaction with a lack of knowledge or understanding. The creative process began, and still begins, from a place of curiosity and not-knowing.

Link to the rest at Medium

PG will suggest that “incurious cultures” have abounded throughout history. Indeed, incurious cultures may be the historical norm with few exceptions.

PG further suggests the curiosity of individuals has proven far more important than the curiosity or lack of curiosity of the cultures in which they lived although a wealthy culture could fund (or crush) the curiosity of creative individuals.

Wealthy cultures can attract creative individuals by supporting their efforts. Due to the business creativity of the Medici family, Florence became a prominent center of medieval trade and commerce. The Medici Bank was the largest bank in Europe during the 15th century due to innovations in financial accounting and bank management, with branches in Rome, Venice, Geneva, Bruges, London, Pisa, Avignon, Milan, and Lyon, some of which were formed as limited liability partnerships.

What we would today call the Trust Departments of the Medici banks managed large portions of the funds owned by the Roman Catholic Church and many wealthy European families.

Medici wealth attracted great artists, sculptors and architects to Florence, including Brunelleschi, Donatello, Ghiberti, the Della Robbias, Filippo Lippi and Angelico, Botticelli, Paolo Uccello, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.

The bank’s network helped support the Medici patronage of the arts. For example, Cosimo de’ Medici forwarded money from Florence through the Pisa branch so Donatello could pay for marble.

Adult coloring class promotes creativity and camaraderie

21 January 2018

From the Sioux City Journal:

At age 76, Kris Bergstrom is finally getting in touch with her inner artist.

“I never considered myself to be artistic in the past,” she said, methodically coloring in intricate patterns with a pencil, “but I’m amazed at how relaxing coloring books can be.”

No, you read that right.

Bergstrom is one of the regulars for Coloring Corner, a weekly class held every Wednesday at the Siouxland Center for Active Generations.

“When I heard about this class, I couldn’t believe my ears,” Bergstrom’s sister Kathy Anders, 65, admitted. “C’mon, coloring books at our age? Before we knew it, we were both hooked.”

. . . .

A former teacher before she married, Card dabbled in different forms of art. But the 70-year-old never tried her hand at drawing.

“I like the creative challenge of drawing,” she said. “Even more than that, I like spending time with my friends. Every member of the Coloring Corner has become friends, since there’s so much camaraderie in this group.”

. . . .

Miriam Clayton, 84, can’t help but smile when Wickstrom mentioned the marketplace for art.

“You know it’s the book publishers who are making millions of dollars by selling coloring books,” she said. “Go into any book store and you’ll see coloring books aimed at every age and every interest.”

“When I was a kid, coloring books were inexpensive,” Card interjected. “This isn’t the case anymore.”

Link to the rest at Sioux City Journal

Real Worlds, Possible Worlds and Fantasy Worlds

10 January 2018

From The New York Times:

The act of reading alters your brain. It does so, first, because your thoughts are brain processes. When you read, neural patterns come and go as the words pass before you. Some of those patterns also give rise to memories, subtle molecular changes in cells and the signaling mechanisms that link them. And third, your brain is physically transformed by learning to read. The networks that underlie vision and language are changed. Even people who become literate in adulthood, as a team led by the French neurobiologist Stanislas Dehaene has shown, acquire differences that are visible in a brain scan. With and without literacy, the brain is the same basic organ, with the same shape and chemistry, but a reading brain is different in ways that count. As Cecilia Heyes says in her forthcoming book, “Cognitive Gadgets,” if one didn’t know that reading is a recent human invention (literate culture is perhaps 5,000 or 6,000 years old), a skill passed on through learning in each generation, it would be easy to mistake the brain patterns seen in reading as evidence for a genetically encoded reading instinct or “innate module.”

. . . .

E. O. Wilson’s new book, “The Origins of Creativity,” is about the role of the humanities in an intellectual culture increasingly dominated by science. Wilson values the humanities, but he wants them to have closer ties to some of the sciences, an argument that draws on his view of the relationships between human biology, thought and culture. “It is becoming increasingly clear,” he says at one point, “that natural selection has programmed every bit of human biology — every toe, hair and nipple, every molecular configuration in every cell, every neuron circuit in the brain, and within all that, every trait that makes us human.” But reading itself, the reading of books like his own, shows that this isn’t true. The circuits of the brain are changed by literacy, and the molecular configurations in countless cells are being altered as you pick up new ideas from the page, as they make their way into your memory. If what Wilson says were true, there would be no point in reading, in trying to learn songs or engage in many other activities. We’d have little resemblance to humans at all.

Link to the rest at The New York Times

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