Letters are beautiful. No really, they are. Just look at that silly lower case ‘q’, or that snugly ampersand. For me, typeface design is the crowning glory of the design kingdom which is why I decided to curate an exhibition, indulging my love for the letterform. The resulting exhibition displayed a bunch of super talented artists who also happen to be staff here at The Learning Connexion.
The brief was easy as A, B, C (yes, that’s a pun). Rework a randomly selected letter from the alphabet, interpreting it at will. Soon, I had more artists interested than I had letters, so some lucky punctuation marks were thrown into the mix.
It was fascinating to see my colleagues’ creativity stretching to places far beyond my imagination. Amazing skills and techniques were revealed. An interactive ‘G’ with a squeaky wheel sat near an exclamation point that literally exclaimed itself to the viewer. A paper crafted ‘C’ creature looked ready to swim off the wall, and homage was paid to braille with a textural ‘U’. Materials ranging from aerosol paint to cat biscuits were all used for this wonderful staff collaboration.
The most fascinating moments to me though, were how my colleagues approached the brief. They had one month to hit the deadline. Plenty of time to get sanding, sketching, moulding, stitching. Loads of time to explore the plethora of ideas just bubbling out of their brain pots. What I observed instead was a subliminal consensus - a movement that shall be known henceforth as ‘Positive Procrastination’.
My dad had this joke at home. It was a round piece of laminated orange cardboard with ‘Tuit’ printed in big black letters - he could always say that he'd ‘get a round tuit’. As I moved into my adulthood, I came to realise that this was not only excellent quality pun material for fathers nationwide, but also perhaps a profitable technique employed by thinkers and dreamers.
Proactive procrastination is the essence of Dad’s ‘Round Tuit’. The method was the same with my colleagues. They received their brief and their letter. Then for about the first week they tucked the brief away in a corner of their brain, recalling the information only when necessary. Week two brought ideas to the surface. Then one or two seeds of intention were allowed to fester and germinate in the depths of their minds, quietly mutating into a tangible thought. Week three brought phrases like ‘I have an idea,but I just need to do it’, or ‘I don’t know if mine will work.’ Week three also brought glazed, wide-eyed panicked looks when artists suddenly clicked that the deadline was looming within a week. Suddenly the Materials Shop had a few more sales.
Week four; hand-in week. Wednesday was also the day that most artwork was being completed. Now, keep in mind most of these people are professional artists and this was the day before hand-in. Thursday: D-Day and boom! A deluge of wonderful creations arrived, fresh from artists’ dens. Most artists finished their work shaving close to submission time. A handful of people got theirs in way before the deadline. I take my hat off to them.
What I have gleaned from this experience, is that this last minute-ness that so many of us have been told is such a negative trait, may indeed be genius at work. I have come to see that the fostering of the imagination happens somewhere in the unprobed unconscious. An art piece is like a small seed ready to germinate. All you really need to do is to get a round tuit.