Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pecha Kucha Night

I attended Pecha Kucha night just a couple of days ago at the Hyde Park Arts Center and had a really great evening listening to the wildest range of subjects ever put together under one roof.

What is Pecha Kucha Night?

Pecha Kucha Night, devised by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham (, was conceived in 2003 as a place for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public. But as we all know, give a mike to a designer (especially an architect) and you’ll be trapped for hours. The key to Pecha Kucha Night is its patented system for avoiding this fate. Each presenter is allowed 20 images, each shown for 20 seconds each – giving 6 minutes 40 seconds of fame before the next presenter is up. This keeps presentations concise, the interest level up, and gives more people the chance to show.

Pecha Kucha (which is Japanese for the sound of conversation) has tapped into a demand for a forum in which creative work can be easily and informally shown, without having to rent a gallery or chat up a magazine editor. This is a demand that seems to be global – as Pecha Kucha Night, without any pushing, has spread virally to over 100 cities across the world. Find a location and join the conversation.

Although initially the presentations were mostly by architects and artists, as the word-of-mouth has spread, the subject matter (and the presenters) has expanded beyond those initial parameters. Have a hobby or a collection that you're dying to share with others? Go ahead. It can't be any quirkier than the gentleman who collected "do not disturb" signs from all over the globe and decided to share his favorites. Or the scientist who has managed to record the music made by molecules. It was actually quite tunefull and created interesting visual patterns when mapped! You never know what you'll learn about what people are up to and how they spend their time when they're not watching tv.

If you are interested in starting a Pecha Kucha Night in your city, please contact :

Friday, July 17, 2009

FableVision -- On a Mission to Infuse Kids with Creativity

If kids are part of your life, you probably already know the work of Peter H. Reynolds. Peter’s simple, charming books — Ish, The Dot, and Someday – encourage kids to be creative by teaching that what they make, “doesn’t have to be perfect, only perfect-ish.” His books are bestsellers and a favorite among kids, parents, and teachers alike. But Peter’s talent isn’t confined to the written word. He and his twin brother, Paul, co-own an educational software company called FableVision.

Here's their stated mission:
We are big believers that a well-educated student is not complete without less "test-able" skills such as creativity, communication, self-expression, problem solving, and cultural understanding. We also need students with self-determination and a desire to learn.

These foundation skills are the building blocks upon which a lifetime of learning can be built. While the details of educational goals and outcomes vary from state to state and country to country, we all share these fundamental goals. FableVision’s mission is to help educators inspire their students to develop and strengthen these fundamental skills. We will continue on our "200-year mission" to develop, discover, and share creative tools for educators and students to help all learners reach their true potential through meaningful challenges and authentic learning.
Onward,Peter H. ReynoldsFounder/CEO, FableVision

Their most recent creation?
A program called Animation-ish. The program allows kids to indulge in “screen time” in a safe and fun way. The easy-to-use software lets kids make their own animated movies, greeting cards, websites, and presentations. The program is available to download, so you can buy it on a rainy day and get designing before the chorus of “I’m bored” reaches a deafening roar.The program is packed full of more than 50 video tutorials and quick tips.

Make Your Mark
The ‘Make Your Mark’ Professional Development programs for teachers blend the best current teaching practices and theories, innovative technology tools, and ready-to-roll ideas to bring back to the classroom – all with a creative flair. Each session is taught by highly skilled educators who share the mission of making the classroom a more wonderful place. Each believes that we can make learning more rewarding and effective by acknowledging different learning styles and multiple intelligences, including emotional intelligences. Where most workshops inform -- their commitment is to inform AND inspire.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A New Creative Outlet -- Virtual Graffiti from YR Wall

If you've always secretly wanted to grab a spray paint can and just go to town on a pristine garage door or brick wall, making your mark and starting your own gang, the folks from Lumacoustics somehow sensed your deepest, darkest thoughts and developed the virtual graffiti wall. Lumacoustics teamed up with YR Wall, who handles the rental and customization of the product.

The wall is used in much the same way as a conventional canvas but has the functionality of a typical interactive computer digital art paint program crossed with a simple animation package, enabling users to easily create and explore colours, textures and movement. Artistic digital creations can then be saved, recalled and played back, as well as utilized in a number of other ways to create unique and personal mementos of their digital graffiti experience. For example, the user will have the option receive a copy of their creation by email free of charge and to email friends and family with a virtual 'postcard' from the event. A recent addition to YrWall allows T-shirts and stickers to be printed for the user to take away.
The user's graffiti can also be projected digitally onto another screen or multiple screens in higher, more visible positions. This not only gives the user's creation more impact, it also allows more people to view what is being drawn. With a mutiple screen setup, the user can choose which screen to edit, leaving the other screens un-effected by changes to the wall.
It occurred to me that there's potentially a fantastic application here for facilitators and graphic facilitators. Can you imagine the possibilities for your next ideation session -- using a virtual wall to illustrate ideas and share them with the group? No need to transcribe and/or scan. And add into that the savings on markers and its a done deal! See some live demos at and let the ideas flow . . . . .

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Art to Drape Over Your Walls & Windows

There's a fascinating artist from Iceland (living and working in Chicago), who is exhibiting her work in Chicago right now by the name of Anna Joelsdotter. Anna recently spent 18 months creating a work that cascades from the windows at ZG Gallery, painting and drawing on both sides of the vellum. If you live in Chicago and have a moment, I advise stopping by the gallery and seeing the work in person. You need to see and touch it to truly appreciate the colors and artistry involved. Here's a link to Anna's website: which will give you an idea of the breadth of her work. This is a whole new level of creativity being brought into play in Chicago.

The Cartoon Character Ice Breaker Exercise

Today I thought I'd share a fun "getting to know you" exercise that you can use at the start of your next meeting and get everyone's creative juices flowing. This one is perfect to use with groups who don't know each other as well as those where we think we know everyone quite well. The beauty of this exercise is that it gives everyone a chance to share something about themselves that may not ordinarily show in the workplace. Plus, it's just plain fun to do arts & crafts while at work!

The Cartoon Character

Assignment: Create a mask that shows how you would like to look if you were to become a cartoon character.

Allotted Time: 15 minutes

Directions: Provide a table filled with various supplies to build a mask, using a colored paper plate as the base. Supplies can include yarn, pipecleaners (buy several varieties), plastic eyeballs, ribbons, fabric remnants, construction paper, colored index cards, wrapping paper, gluesticks, Elmer’s glue, glitter paint tubes, scissors, cotton balls, colored string, candy, staplers, tape, plastic beads, paperclips (regular and colored), felt, pompoms. Have each person wrap their mask around the back of their chair using yarn for the ties.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Get Paid for Your Brilliant Ideas!

Well, we're back after our little hiatus and I've been busy coming up with all sorts of creative hook-ups for y'all. If you don't know about InnoCentive, you should. The whole idea centers around unleashing the creative brain power available out there to generate sustainable breakthrough innovation for your company. It works quite simply -- you post a problem or challenge you are trying to solve on the InnoCentive website ( along with a price you're willing to pay for the winning solution. More than 160,000 of the brightest minds in their database get to work on your problem. You choose the solution that best meets your challenge. If you're the creative genius out there that's always coming up with brilliant answers to questions no one has asked, here's a chance to make some serious money. We're not talking in the hundreds of dollars, but in the tens of thousands of dollars. So, go ahead, lubricate your brain and do some breakthrough thinking.