Creativity

Winner Announcement: Video Poetry Project

 

The grand video poetry creative invite experiment is going to the next level. I am pleased to announce that Bobby Cuevas is the winner. There were 15 entries from artists in different corners of the world submitting to the contest, and I had the opportunity to pick one to work with. Thank to everyone who submitted to the contest, it was truly an honor to see people creating music for the project, and using Talenthouse to connect us was excellent. The winner of the contest has the opportunity to work together with me on my next series of video poetry short films. I’ve never been in the position of choosing a contest winner, and in the end the choice was made on context.

Context


Judging creative work of others is a strange business, and in the end it comes down to tastes and context. There’s really no other honest way to do it. Something can be technically great but not be what you’re looking for. The context is the head of the person choosing, and isn’t something that can be predicted or necessarily designed for. This was one of the main lessons from the Professional Artists seminar I attended at the F&F Kunst schule in Zurich this summer. Art is bought in the gallery scene based on context. Is it new, does it fit with the gallery, is it maketable, does it create a reaction – and how does it do that in relaitonship to all the other art in the Zurich art world? Art doesn’t have value without context, and as the context changes, so does the value of the art.

Decisions Decisions


For the decision process, I mainly looked to see what the music would create in my head, and based off of how ambivalent or twisted those images were, I decided to go with that artist. I figured, the music which creates the strongest reaction in me is probably the best one to go with. This was a measure of how the work of the artists would match my work. There were a number of entries which were excellent, and I could imagine creating a movie with them, but just didn’t fit into the context of the project I have in my head. As an artist, the most important thing is to connect with people who like your work, that is the context in which you will be successful, and sometimes it just needs to be one or two people.


Bobby did a production called Coming Together, it starts with a cut from the song Come Together, and then drops into a drumming rhythm, it sort of bores into my head and remixing into a fluid menagerie that just mixes well with images of a Bratz doll 50 feet tall, walking through Detroit with a .50 Cal sniper rifle. It was the later part of the track that started pushing my neurons around. I could see a sort of blackness with interspiced flashes and a person walking down the street, the camera in my head did a pan and then a steadycam momevent around a guy’s face, then the scene was reversed in editing and then there was a robot fish crawling out of the ocean and started to walk.


So, I look forward to working with Bobby on a video poetry short film series. Thank you to Talenthouseadambriozaybudmanlollyjean and everyone who submitted to the video poetry creative invite.

Bobby Cuevas


Voting Open! Collaborate On a Video Poetry Project

Voting is open on the video poetry creative invite at Talenthouse.com! To recap, I have a creative invite running on Talenthouse, where the winner will have the opportunity to work together with me on a video poetry series of short films. I wrote about the contest previously, and now this wonderful experiment in online collaboration and general creativity awesomeness is coming to an end. Well, the first part, then will come the video poetry series. For the contest, I provided some images of inspiration, including images of Bratz and War, and the participants then needed to create a music track to submit to the contest. The highest voted songs will get the first listens from me, and I’ll then work with the winner (whoever created the best mix in my mind) if they’re interested. For the video poetry part, I’ll create some poetry concepts and shoot the needed video, and the winner can have their music featured as a component of the final videos.  It’s all very non-linear and experimental, but when you challenge people, excellent things always happen. The voting is open here on Talenthouse:


Voting Open: Collaborate with American Peyote on a poetry short film series

Work With Me on a Video Poetry Project

Something went live the other day, a fine determined attempt at creative collaboration on a global scale. It’s called, Collaborate on a Video Poetry Film Series. It’s a creative invite on Talenthouse.com, that fabulous website that connects creators together and is the current website to be on for interesting collaboration opportunities. Essentially I’m looking for a person to work with on a video poetry series. From my side, I’ll provide the visuals and words and you provide the soundtrack. I’ll mix everything together and we’ll ride the wave of internet propaganda to stardom together. On the creative invite page on Talenthouse is the inspiration. There’s a video of my latest still images, and the idea is that DJ’s, producers, etc. can be inspired by that to submit a track that fits to the images. I’ll pick the music submission that best fits in my brain and then we’ll collaborate together on a series of video poetry short films. It doesn’t matter who or where you are in the world, this is an opportunity to connect and work together across cultural, economic, societal and internet boundaries.


Where did the idea for this come from? It was a pretty organic evolution of the internet, inspiration, and motivation. In 2010 I submitted some paintings to a Talenthouse Creative Invite. I won the invite, and then participated at 1 Day of Art Copenhagen with (t)here magazine, then I printed a card of my best painting from Copenhagen and sent it to Jennifer Chalbaud in Venezuela who then had a dream inspired by my Gonzo Art and she created a cool design for Mambo Surf Deluxe. I wrote a blog post about it all and then Talenthouse contacted me, seeing if I would be interested in running a community creative invite. I said hell yes, and here we are.


I like painting because it’s the unknown. I never know what will come when I stare down that big white canvas, and I have no idea what will happen with this creative invite, but soon I’m going to find out. When I create I often think like a movie maker, I hear the music in my ears and break paintings up into little movies in my head. That’s why I’m excited about the possibilities of this opportunity. It’s the possibility of meeting someone motivated to create great music to mix well with the art I’m creating. In this context the idea of video peotry films is just natural for me, it’s the natural evolution of art and video. If you’re a music maker, please check out the creative invite, and you have my deepest gratitude if you pass the word on to anyone you know who might be interested. Click here to visit the page on Talenthouse.com, and below is a video explaining the idea.



and here is the inspiration…


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rAHC0rHMRdA

I’m Not Depressed, I’m An Artist

I’m not depressed, I’m an artist. Remember this, for it is my new motto with which to deal with certain aspects of life. In a book I once wrote, “Now, actually being an alcoholic is an unhealthy way to live, but pretending to be one for the night helps break life up into more manageable chunks.” If you pretend to not be an artist, I don’t think anything good will come of it. If you wake up wondering why you feel depressed and unfulfilled in the morning, it’s possible that you’re simply an artist. This one simple realization can make a large difference in your day to day life.


Accept who you are and always look on the bright side. Pretending to not be an artist will probably make you depressed, but actually being an artist opens up a whole city of plausible excuses and diversions to sensible responsibility. For example, when you’re an artist you can say, “I can’t do math today, my brain patterns are too nonlinear.” This is a no-go statement in the engineering world, you have to do math because that’s how we understand the natural world. “I can’t work today, I’m in a creative void, I’ll stay at the cafe all day drinking espresso.” To be fair, I don’t think this is reality, it’s just what I’ve see from the movies and over-dramatic artistic characters. I imagine myself more like a poor Howard Hughes, who wasn’t an artist in the traditional sense, but had the fantastic ability to run an engineering empire and be a director of photography in the same lifetime. Or maybe like a Paul Verhoeven, who holds degrees in math and physics, but also directed Starship Troopers and Total Recall.


For the longest time I thought I was an engineer who just liked to draw in math class.  I figured it would stop at some point and I’d just use these talents to design car handles or airplane designs or something.  Now I’ve realized that I got it all wrong these first 33 years, and my birthday is just after Marche du Nain Rouge, so there must be some Detroit devil inside me, and I think it’s time to admit defeat and start dealing with being an artist. Understand, I don’t really know what it means to be an artist, I only know the engineer lifestyle. I never attended art school and haven’t a clue how to act or conduct myself. I already wear colorful shoes and carry pens around to write and draw with. There’s a room in my apartment dedicated to painting and I have a pair of jeans stained with colored latex. What else should I be doing?


I don’t have a specific medium that I work in. I was asked once what texture I use when painting – and my first impulse was to ask the woman what the fuck she was talking about. As I understand it, texture is what the surface of your painting looks like (I thought it was just a layering technique in Photoshop). Always a new language to learn. I like to think that I specialize in ideas, and they come out in painting, video, digital photography,  whatever is at hand. The biggest problem is the need for expression, and this is the friction point with traditional engineering persona. Here is where the friction of the situation leads to conflict in the brain. For some personalities it’s easy, or at least normal to just calculate things and to find solutions in a number format and to be done with it. It would be nice if that were enough, but it’s not. I want to hold a thing in my hand. I like to bring something from nothingness into being, from concept to final product. It’s scary to stare down a blank white canvas and it’s a rush to look upon the final work. When you get used to feeling that rush in the studio, you naturally want to feel it elsewhere, it becomes a normal entity in your emotional map. However, it’s difficult to attain in a traditional engineering world. The only sane solution is to find a happy medium. Something which includes design and science, something where the two sides can coexist and benefit one another. I don’t know what the future brings, but hopefully I’ll find out soon enough.

Gonzo Kanto Speakers on Talenthouse

I was looking through my Facebook and saw that Jennifer Chalbaud, a designer I had met through Talenthouse had submitted to the Kanto AV speaker Creative Invite, and that it was ending in 6 hours. I had a vision for a second, and wondered what it would be like to combine Lazy Art IV and Gonzo Art in a speaker design. It seemed fitting, to take the art created from 1 Day of Art Copenhagen, and see how it would work when applied to product design. I got back to my place around 5:30pm and had until 7pm to submit my design. After screwing around with SketchUp and a dxf file in Adobe Illustrator for 30 minutes I decided to go back to what I know and started making layers and masking in Photoshop. The result might scare some people, but I would buy one.


I started off with a white Kanto speaker box from Talenthouse…it’s a nice simplistic design, speakers on the front, clean lines, contoured sides and curves, something very clean and sexy. At this point, one could go with a minimalistic design to complement the form of the product, or go in the opposite direction and create something that dominates, both in color and form. I decided on impulse to go with the latter approach, and in my mind grafted two paintings onto the Kanto…


My favorite painting from 1 Day of Art went on the front, using the lower section of the patinting, which includes passages of writing, and this flows upwards with the Basquiat-Alien inspired head. I wanted somthing else for the top though, and decided to go with Lazy Art IV, which is sort of a universe view, with lots of color combinations running into one another. The paintings are sort of inspired from music, visions in the head, so it made sense to combine them with a speaker design. The final design is on Talenthouse at…Design for limited edition Kanto speakers

The Gods Envy Us

lazy art number 3Editor’s note:

Please excuse the logic from the following piece. The tortured author was locked in his apartment for a rainy Sunday afternoon and took to watching the great classics, Troy, Clash of the Titans, Basquiat, and began pondering a simple philosophy of art as ancient religion, and if artists are Gods giving birth to their creations, will it kill the creator when it grows up?


“The Gods envy us. They envy us because we’re mortal, because any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again.” (Troy: Achilles)


I just want everything to be clear, uncluttered and obvious without reproach when I get it all wrong. The fear is to get it all wrong in the end – to drop the bomb to stop the war and end up in a toxic arms race for the next 30 years. You don’t know in the conception stage if the creation will turn out evil and rebel against you like a the son of a Greek king. Will it kill you in your sleep and renounce the love you thought existed. We are masters of ourselves, and the watchful beings above are there to make sure we don’t get out of hand.


What do mortals do when the creativity Gods continually fuck with our minds? Do you turn to drink and drugs like a cliche creative sob-story ready for a TV docudrama regurgitation of a plotline? Is it acceptable to sit back and let it all play out as they like? Let the images from our paintings and photographs bully us into self-loathing and despair. The abstract painting demands red instead of blue so I sit there in front of the canvas and do as it commands. Then when I try to sleep the demon beast invades my thoughts and dreams, taunting me with shapes and colors I can’t translate into reality.



“We can do it,” says reason, we can renounce the Gods and bring them to their knees. We can destroy the Mona Lisa and set fire to every painting we did, crush the statues and delete all the images. I close my eyes and almost feel the Nirvana of an Art free, madness-not world. Then faith opens a doorway to fear and we kneel before the darkness, praying for protection and salvation. Save every picture and each stupid sketch. Nothing can be lost – for it means that nothing ever mattered.


The Gods need us, they need us because we enable their existence. Because without us to imagine their lips and lungs, they would have no breath to take. A symbiosis is always existing, one feeding the other and taking life somewhere else. Hope, fear, and faith. Love, philosophy and hate. I’m going g places in my heads. The painting doesn’t exist without the painter, the picture needs the person to exist.


Images suggest stories and colors with shapes, and they demand a symphony of understanding – creating a clear flow between each other and giving the viewer a sense of intuitive understanding. No thinking is required for faith in art. No emphathy is need to kill the creation.


Even the creator doesn’t understand it
No need to look for a deeper meaning, for none exists
I was just fucking around, there is no genius here
The creation and the conception are not the same


The Gods envy us. They envy us because they can not create, but only observe the creator of their beings. The painting hangs on the wall and wonders what it would be like to build a human from DNA fragments and bits of bio-paint.


lazy art number one

The Scream – Inspiration via Acute Boredom

Scream Head IllustrationI’m a drawer, I doodle, I always have, and I intend to never stop.  I’ve drawn in class as long as I can remember.  On my progress reports my teachers would often write that I was a good student, but my only problem was that I drew during class.


Now, looking back after 31 years, the majority of which have been spend in class learning everything from reading English to writing Japanese, thinking about Algebra, Calulus, intermediate dynamics, biomaterials, engineering, chemistry, physics, everything inbetween, all culminating in a Doctor of Science title from ETH Zurich, I can tell you with aboslute certainty that doodling, and continuing to draw in class was one of the best decisions I’ve made in life.


Drawing in Science and Engineering classes forms the perfect Arience – mix of art and science. I talked about this notion of Arience at the 2009 Swiss StartUp conference (Idea Generation and Development). When half of your brain is bleeding – trying to understand the diffusion equation or the basics of colloids science, it just makes sense to exercise the creative centers and draw something.  My biggest critique of my engineering classes at Michigan State University (MSU) is that very few of the professors took time to understand this concept.  Teachers of all levels should take the time to understand their students, and to understand how their students learn.  In the end it makes you a better teacher.  Trying to apply a rigid I-know-it-all teaching philosophy to every student is harmful and highly counter-productive to learning.  And if you’re not interested in teaching, well, don’t become a Professor – just go to the private research sector.


scream.jpgBy far the best drawing I produced at MSU was started during a Chemcical Engineering course on Colloids.  I wanted to learn about colloids science to better understand the application of 3D printing and rapid prototyping technology to the manufacture of 3D hydroxyapatite bone scaffolds.  The class started out fine but the lecture consisted of Dr. Ofoli runing through a black and white PowerPoint presentation for about an hour and a half during the evening.  Although the slides were prepared before class, he wouldn’t let us download them for class to takes notes with, “because then students wouldn’t come to class.”  So, basically I didn’t learn anything during class, all I was doing was trying to copy everything from the presentation before he flipped to a new slide.  The woman who sat behind me would draw Manga all night, and one night my brain had had enough and drew a giant screaming head inspired by Pink Floyd: The Wall.


My frustration culminated one night when my brain was about to explode and I drew a giant screaming head while listening to notions about colloids and chemical interactions.  I dropped the class soon after the first exam, not because I didn’t find the topics interesting, but because the learning technique was so completely opposite to my natual way of learning, it had simply become a huge waste of time to attend the lecture, and since I had the book, I could just learn whatever I needed.


scream_hand.jpgTo finish the screaming head sketch I scanned it and started some basic work in Photoshop.  Using my Wacom tablet I erased part of the head and then added an arm – drawn later on a separate night. I didn’t like the original shape of the head so I re-drew the head with my Wacom and then made the head more alien-like, with oriented pen strokes.  In the end, after writing Revolt from the Singles Table, I realized it was the perfect graphic to place opposite Chapter IV.


“Only a determined removal of the viels of society sets the soul free…a beast approaches.”


Sometimes art influences science, sometimes science inspires art.  Sometimes boredom sparks a new idea, sometimes you use analogies to develop new concpets in different fields.  Whatever the outcome, find out what works for you and exploit it.

The Creative Space

Creative_Space.jpgEnvironment plays a huge roll in creativity and creation. Physically this happens inside a relative thing we call “space.” Call it a room, a studio, your office, a play-pen, a workshop, a bathroom, baby crib, whatever – the place you work and where you do your creative stuff. It’s where you do your photography, Photoshop, writing, painting, videos, finger painting, claymation, whatever. The point is you have to have somewhere to work and create cool stuff, and the design of that space, of that environment will greatly influence how well you can translate the vision in your head into a “creation.” So how does one design an effective “creative space?”


Bookbinders-1405.jpgWhy Design a Creative Space?


Like many other things in life, you start out with what you have, and figure out how to fit in what you need to accomplish your desires in life. When I moved into my new place I knew it was the perfect time to design my “space,” so I picked a new apartment with an open design, almost modular. The place is split into two sections, with a kitchen area in the middle. I sleep on a small bed near my computer just adjacent to the living area on one side of the apartment. This lounging area is setup with bookcases and a couch with a cool Oriental carpet (perfect for yoga). Then beyond the kitchen I use the open space as my Laboratory, containing all manner of lights, cameras, and random paints and canvases. There was a method, and flow-design to this creative space madness. The design revolves around ideas and their creation. Think of ideas, how and where they are created? Then let it all flow into a place where ideas can be translated to a creative product. Ideas are developed on one side of my apartment (the left brain), and carried out on the opposite side (the practical right side). In between is the door leading back to my perception of reality (you know, the front door, the one I walk through most days when I have to go to work).

R0011015.jpgMy Creative Space Design

I set up my place this way so that all the thinking and idea creation is done in the small context of my sleeping and lounging area, while the “work” (play) is handled in the larger open space of the studio beyond the kitchen. I have essentially two rooms in the laboratory, with large glass doors separating the two, which can be opened to combine the two spaces. In the larger area I set up lights and a background. The smaller area is usually lined with plastic for painting. This enables me total freedom to jump between photography and painting, which is important because photography is just light painting, and everything I know about painting with liquid on canvas I learned from Photoshop. So, it makes sense to put the two (photography and painting) next to one another in some context. I like having a separation between the creation and lounging spaces because I’m a complicated and occasionally chaotic-thinking person, and by separating the two I keep the clutter of my life away from the photography and painting, away from the work-creation areas. This makes it easier to concentrate on shooting when desired, and not worry about flinging paint on my computer screen when the madness takes hold and I set upon a new canvas.


Lazy_Art_IIIn the painting room (called my “winter garden”) I can open up or close the doors, creating separation from the main space as needed, when needed. This allows me to pen or modify that space as desired. So, for full length portraits with a 50mm lens on an APS body, I can open the doors and have enough room for a full-length shot of a model. Later I can easily close-off the painting room and line the inside with plastic to protect the walls. The painting area is now fully closed off and I can throw paint around as needed when I set about translating some abstract madness into reality on the canvas.


My Creative Space Philosophy


My creative space design also focuses on the important separation between idea and execution, between brain-storming and action. It’s easy for me to come up with ideas, and more often than not I’ll start branching off into fifty different directions. But it’s hard to follow through on 50 different ideas, so it’s important for me to focus on one or two things and complete them before moving on to something else. I like to think up and organize things, put it all in place (ironic since I’m a filthy person), and then do whatever is needed to bring those ideas from my head into reality. That’s why my sketch books, journals, pens, and Manga markers stay in the lounge area while my lights, paints and camera gear stay in the studio area. I sketch up ideas on one side of my place (or in a cafe), and then walk over to the other side and “execute” the idea. In between the kitchen and studio is my storage room with a shelf full of climbing and outdoor adventure gear. When I need a break I pack up some climbing gear and tour up a mountain for a bit of clarity.


BarbieHunterSetup-00828.jpgFree the Mind – Reduce Flexible Clutter


This creative space design is ideal for me because I can setup more or less however I want to. I didn’t put in a kitchen table or armoire, (much to the disgust of my mother) so I’m not constrained by existing clutter (this is a new concept in my life) when, for example I want to setup a photo shoot. In the photo studio I put a 2.7 meter paper background system to use for most of my shots. There’s ample room to move, setup lights, and even get a small softbox or beauty dish directly over a model. I chose a location background system instead of one screwed into the wall so I’d have the freedom to move it around if desired (but I leave it where it is).


cover_pocket_front.jpgIt’s Not Rocket Science


Designing your creative space just means that you have the space to create and to easily access those tools required to do your creations. You need somewhere to work, so take the time to include your creative space in your environment. If you’re a mom writing a novel, you might need a quiet place to write, well-insulated from the chaos of your kids, so do it. Design for the creative space as you would for a new kitchen or recreation room. If creating is an important part of your life, it makes no sense to exclude it from your living area. It’s the things we do in life to express our desires and ideas which makes us all interesting and beautiful people. Don’t deny your inner artist, everyone around you will lead a less-interesting life if you ignore your creative ambitions. The vision starts in the head, and all you’re doing is translating it to the real world in a form for other people to experience. Simple, easy, not complex in any sense of the word. This can happen in a place you design yourself, a cramped dorm room in Tokyo, or the vast expanse of the Swiss Alps. Find ways to make the space your own and you will never be constrained by walls, and your mind will always be free.

Wysshorn.jpg

LOVE LIFE STOP AIDS on Mars

Interpreting the world around you and understanding the small graphic design and photography aspects of ad campaigns can be very useful for any aspiring photographer. Open your eyes when you walk down the street, and take in advertisements you’re exposed to. By thinking about their message and how well the advertisers present their visual message, you can begin gaining insight into how the visual medium can be used to communicate different messages and concepts. In particular, lookout for the overdone cliche messages and sex-sells overtones which seem to permeate ad campaigns the world over.


After four years in Switzerland, I’m still generally at a loss when it comes to interpreting advertisements and billboard messages. Understanding these things is essential to becoming at least somewhat integrated in any society. How advertisers communicate with the public gives great insight into the mind set of a people.


One of the more peculiar ad campaigns in Switzerland, and particularly around Zurich is the LOVE LIFE STOP AIDS campaign to bring exposure to the idea of having only protected sex, and thereby reduce the spread of the most notorious sexually transmitted disease in modern history, the HIV/AIDS virus.


A primary visual communication tools for LOVE LIFE STOP AIDS is billboards; on street corners, at train stations, wherever people might glance and have their attention diverted to the idea of stopping the spread of HIV/AIDS. As with any advertisement, it’s the way in which the viewer’s attention is diverted which makes the LOVE LIFE STOP AIDS campaign stand out.


Each billboard involves two people having sex – somewhere. Attached is the message: LOVE LIFE STOP AIDS and promotes safe sex in Switzerland. The real attention grabber is the location. For some unrelated reason, the sex acts take place in unique locations: under water, in caves, in the jungle and…on Mars, yes, the planet – not the candy bar.


LOVE LIFE STOP AIDS on Mars


Now, there are various ways of interpreting this ad, obviously the message has to do with sex, seemingly of a homosexual nature, and the dull witted observer might suppose the idea is to have unprotected sex on Mars to stop AIDS - unprotected in the sense that Mars has no atmosphere, and if you open your space suit to engage in intercourse, the pressure difference will no doubt force your eyeballs out of their sockets; thus leaving the love-struck stud gasping for air like Arnold in Total Recall after he’s ejected onto the arid martian surface.


LOVE LIFE STOP AIDS on Mars


Poorly translated, the written part of the ad basically says, “Always with, also on the business trip” and no doubt encourages people to take condoms with them wherever they are going. Because, obviously if you’re going to Mars it’s going to be for business, as commercial tourist flights are not currently flying to that planet – and if you happen to have sex on the surface of the planet, using a condom is far more important than ensuring your space suit is properly sealed against the Martian atmosphere.


On some level the LOVE LIFE STOP AIDS message is communicated well using the gay-sex-on-Mars analogy. Now, it’s obvious that sex on Mars won’t stop AIDS, and that opening your space suit on the Martian surface will mean certain death. So in some sense the space suit could be analogous to using condoms during sex, implying that simply that engaging in unprotected sex in a dangerous environment will dramatically increase the possibility of contracting the HIV virus. Most likely the aim is that the shock value of displaying a somewhat graphic depiction of homosexual intercourse on the street will shock people and lock a visual marker in their brain, connecting condoms and AIDS prevention.


A thorough description of the 2008 LOVE LIFE STOP AIDS campaign can be found on the official Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) website. It includes TV spots, printed ads, and a pretty cool flash-based webpage (check-your-lovelife.ch), which shows that some serious design thought and photography was put into the LOVE LIFE STOP AIDS message.

Ulysses Awesome Writing Program Review

The thing I hate about the software world is that so many products fall back on their “Legacy”. So, a writing program like MS Word was developed on a certain philosophy, which at the time was constrained by the fact that the operating system and user interface was very limited. Now we have limitless User Interface (UI) capabilities, but programs like Office and Word are as archaic as ever.?

The traditional word processor is basically a listing application. You list your thoughts down, and organize everything in your head while doing it. The program does nothing to aid you. If anything, a writing program like MS Word exudes Computer Inhibited Creativity (CIC), or can be characterized as a Creativity Killer. My first choice for a Computer Aided Creativity (CAC) writing program is Ulysses.

My brain doesn’t work like a listing program, it works like a movie making program. So I searched for a writing program which would work with me instead of me working around the limitations of the program. I looked for a writing program which was actually developed for writing, that allows one to move ideas around and jump between different project documents.

I started using Ulysses about three years ago, and have never stopped loving it.

Ulysses was developed around the idea of making content and writing the main focus of the writing process, and specifically not focusing on formatting. The program is straight forward, you write in the main window, on the right-hand side is a Notes window, on the left are all the individual documents in your project, along with their Notes window. Naturally, the user interface can be customized.



With Ulysses you can easily develop an idea in one document, and then transfer to another. What’s really cool is that you can select a document and display it on the left-hand side of the program. You can select text from there and copy it to the main window. This is where it really excels compared with Word, since it aides you in forming and reforming ideas so quickly, it really accelerates the writing and creativity process.?

How exactly does Ulysses enable CAC?

Well, if you have an idea in your head, then you intuitively understand it. The problem is communicating it to others. The most common form is writing. But once you write something down, you will naturally try to modify it, as opposed to writing down a completely new thought. This is where Ulysses kicks ass.

Since text can be moved between documents so easily, and documents can be displayed so quickly, the program actually helps you organize ideas, as opposed to simply being a processor for words.

I use Ulysses for many different projects including webpages, blog posts, technical papers, a PhD dissertation, letters, the list is endless. Projects and documents can be exported as simple text, MS Word, even in LaTex.


If Ulysses could be better, it would be the ability display the documents in a mindmap layout similar to MyMind. This would allow the user to visually organize ideas, but keep all of the actually writing within that visual representation. I highly recommend Ulysses if you’re looking for a writing program, it can change the way you work and think for the better.

MyMind Mindmapping Software Review

When I started doing research I wanted a computer program to develop ideas and projects.  I also wanted something that would reduce the energy and time needed to translate the ideas in my head into a form which other people could understand.  After searching the net I found MyMind, by Sebastian Krauß.  It’s for the Mac, only for the Mac, and it’s Donation Supported.  It’s simple, fast, and one of the essential tools I use in developing projects.

The concept of mind mapping is simple: create an interconnected visual representation of your ideas.  It’s like combining a text outline and a sketch.  The essential element is that you can visually see how different ideas connect together.  There’s limitless applications for the mind-mapping technique in every work place and profession.




I start my mindmaps by drawing a map on paper, putting all my ideas down and connecting them.  The problem is that words on paper can’t be moved around.  That’s where Computer Aided Creativity (CAC) becomes essential.  So next I transfer my collection of ideas to MyMind, and start moving things around.  In MyMind you list topics in an outline form in one window, and then create a map in a separate window.  You can modify the list or the map, collapsing or expanding different parts of the map and add notes.




The mindmap can be color-coded, font size and thickness of the line connectors can decrease per level and images can be imported. Basically, there’s a lot of customization that one can perform to improve the organization of the mindmap.  I like to use two monitors with MyMind, this gives me the room to develop the organization of ideas and watch project plans evolve.  This allows me to develop a clear representation of a project, research article, dissertation, webpage design, book content, photo project, anything that I need.




There are other professional mind-mapping products such as ConceptDraw, which is for the PC or Mac.  I might switch to ConceptDraw in the future, as this software family also includes variations for project management and web design in addition to basic mind-mapping.  A lot of software is hyped and over-priced, but packages like MyMind and ConceptDraw are no doubt worth every penny and could revolutionize the way you work – both professionally and in your personal projects.

There are amazing possibilities using a touch screen and mind mapping for real hands-on CAC.  Some day I’d like to see a program on a tablet laptop which allows the user to create and modify a mindmap in real time.  This would be a very useful combination of computer aided creativity, technology which really works for the user.  Even better would be the fusion between a mind mapper and word processor.  The writing program Ulysses is going in the right direction.

Writing Work Flow – VVCTFR – CAC

Management and having a process is important in many endeavors in life, and I find such a construct essential when writing.  Computer Aided Creativity (CAC) has made the difference between writing random notes to myself and producing actual written content.  My writing workflow is like this:

Visualize – Vomiting – Reduce Chaos – Form – Refine

This is not a purely linear workflow, sometimes the steps overlap, combine, separate, they’re always in flux.  Chaotic vomiting might form a refined visualization, or you might have to refine chaos in order to start verbally vomiting.  The gist is that an idea in my head is translated and organized into words on a screen or piece of paper.  I like to call this:

VVCTFR (Writing Cluster Fuck for short)




Visualize – I get an idea in my mind, and a bunch of visual attributes are present, the challenge is getting those elements recorded and developed into a final form.

Vomiting – I take a piece of paper and put down ideas in the form of writing, pictures, and arrows connecting one to another.  Things are chaotic, but recorded.

Reduce Chaos – From an outline or mindmap, I arrange ideas in a certain way so they’re flowing well and playing together.  Then I expand on those ideas, making them more than just jumbled craziness.

Transcribe – I transcribe the main ideas and fragments to Ulysses, my favorite writing program.  Small paragraphs go in the main window, words, things to remember go in the notes section.  There will be many spelling mistakes, the idea is that the written form of the idea is taking shape.

Form – Here I’m working exclusively in Ulysses (or another writing program), moving between documents and adding specifics to what I’m writing.  This is the most critical part, it’s here where I create the final form (more or less) and get ready to export for publishing and formatting.

Refine – At this point everything has been exported into Word or uploaded to my WordPress blog, in the final form for formatting.

I follow this process (more or less) for everything from blog articles to technical papers and dissertations.  When I talk with other people I’m floored to hear that they start papers, publications, and dissertations from scratch, without little plan or workflow.

A writer might purpose that too much structure in the writing process reduces creativity.  A novelist, for example, might use the act of writing as a way to get to know their characters.  The writing process might be seen as a way to develop the story, and hence some writers might advise one against outlining.  A writer who doesn’t use outlines is Timothy Hallinan, who seems to take the view that an outline must be a static prelude to writing.  He notes that he wants to see how his characters develop,

"I don’t want to know how the story will end until it does."

I’ve found the opposite.  I’m a visual thinker, I create stories in a movie form in my head, the challenge is putting those ideas on paper.  For myself outlining and mind mapping increases creativity because visual markers in my head (ideas) are easily recorded and rearranged in reality, thus enabling a final form that is done quickly, is original, and as creative as all Hell.  I use mind mapping as a dynamic entity, not a stagnant thing that needs to be fully complete before I start writing.

Whatever your view, using a workflow which efficiently translates ideas to text helps in everything from writing a long email, a letter, a PhD, a job application, a business plan, movie script, book, anything the creative author can imagine. 

Coming up next in this series, Ulysses – the Kick Ass writing program and Mind Mapping software.