January 15, 2024

The Fabric of Creativity

"Creativity and knowledge and explanation are all fundamentally impossible to define, because once you have defined them, then you can set up a formal system in which they are then confined"

David Deutsch

This quote is an antidote to techno-doomers and those that only see the progress in AI as something that needs to be forced and constrained and regulated.

Indeed AI will replace some jobs, but it will also liberate others.

It will create a new class of creatives. And it will also create its new class of creative genre. It's already doing it. But there is always a human puppet master behind it.

AI still needs a human behind it because creativity and knowledge cannot be defined. It is being trained on human information, it is recycling things at a supernatural pace, so it will always be cursed by our own human flaws.

Will we ever find a good explanation for creativity? It is impossible to define, but it is very possible to find frameworks to use the tools to your advantage.

Working at Journee really puts a creative spin to technology. It is the first time in my life I see technology and art and creativity work in such beautiful synergy. I love to see those principles from computer sciences and the mental models utilized for giving instructions to computer, into the creative realm.

If you are able to see those patterns in action, it is indeed a beautiful thing. There was a missing layer in the creative industry, and it was of breaking down things and tasks logically, and giving instructions on how to make certain things repeatable and scalable.

There always was in my views a split between those who focus on craft, and those who use for example, code to generate art. But now tools allow for generating things with a bit more direction, can break new grounds.

Scaling art, with the use of AI and real time tools as just a way to get to places faster and cheaper will open so many new layers of expression people will not believe. We are creating our own fabric of reality.

The day we are able to define creativity, it is the day when we know everything, and that is an impossible statement. We do not have that capacity, but we do have that potential to imagine the infinite. That makes me optimist about being human, in a world driven by accelerating technologies.

January 14, 2024

Creative Productivity

In this post I will reveal the things that I have found to boost creative productivity and help you scale your creative output. Bear in mind this are just frameworks that I have discovered for myself, but at the same time you can learn and apply to your own process. I try to incorporate and blend computer science and logical breakdown of creativity, redefining cliches and old archetipes of what does it mean to be a creative, ready?

Legacy Thinking

All productivity books start the same, there is a claim of a past chaotic self, then there is an event, a rebirth of sorts and finally a study or two that are cited to support whatever worked for someone and give them a bit of a scientific backing. The following is merely anecdotal brain dump.

All the online gurus will tell you to wake up, do your 5 minute journaling for gratitude, cold plunge and calendar blocking, but in the creative industry, all that is nice and good if you like to do it, but it will not really translate to anything but perhaps, give you a bit of structure or prep your day.

I have to admit, I have a sweet spot for these things. Love testing new productivity software and ways to keep track with all my information, tasks, to-dos, etc. But I always fail. I think I'm on to something interesting with the Bullet Journal method, but I just started very very recently. Let's see if I manage to survive the 2 week test.

Creative productivity has been the main driver of traffic to my website. So I will do a typical word vomit here with some random thoughts, and my future self can pick this up when he is creatively producing the book that will never be a success.

Productivity Basics

Productivity is simple in the end and can be universal. That means, we just need to be industrious about our approach to output.

More output = more productivity.

But that is only one part. Volume does not equate quality. The truth that I have found is quite simple. And if you are worried about originality, I would add also that it is within this process that originality appears. When you start to apply your intelligence to how you see your work and manage to get in and out of it. Let's break it down.

  1. Quick Start Sprint - Reduce the time that you need to think about something, put some pressure, and do quick MVP releases of your output.
  2. Test it with reality - Post it online or seek feedback.
  3. Detach - Look at it from an outsider perspective, be highly critical
  4. Iterate - And be scientific about it.
  5. Challeng It - Take notes, male a plan.
  6. Deconstruct - your next steps and prepare your next iteration.
  7. Repeat

There is no improvement without intelligence.

It doesn't matter the volume. That will help you generate muscle memory.

There is no formula we are all different, and have our quirks. Some people can only do with 4 hours of sleep, others like myself, can sustain 6.5, but 8 is best for pure mental sharpness.

Intelligence also plays a pivotal role in pattern recognition. As creatives, we often find ourselves in a tangle of ideas and concepts. The ability to discern useful patterns, connect disparate ideas, and foresee potential outcomes is a product of honed intelligence. This skill is particularly crucial in times of overwhelming creative choices or when faced with the daunting blank canvas of a new project.

A key aspect of maximizing creative productivity lies in the intelligent reflection on past work and the intentional planning of future steps. This process is not just about producing more but producing better with each iteration. It involves a keen sense of self-awareness and the ability to objectively analyze one's own creations.

The first step is to develop a habit of regularly looking back at your work. This isn't just a cursory glance but a deep, analytical dive. You need to detach yourself from the emotional attachment to your creation and view it with an objective lens. Ask yourself critical questions: What worked? What didn’t? Why did certain elements resonate more than others?

Detecting and Correcting Errors Once you've reflected on your work, the next step is to detect specific errors and areas for improvement. This is where your intelligence plays a crucial role. You need to understand not just the superficial aspects of what needs to be improved, but also the underlying principles and reasons. For example, if a design didn't resonate with the audience, go beyond the surface level 'it didn’t look good' to understanding the principles of design that weren't effectively applied.

Intentional Planning for Iteration Armed with insights from your analysis, you then move to intentional planning for your next iteration. This means setting clear, achievable goals for improvement. There will be a point where you will incorporate this directly into your brain, but in the beginning it pays off to be extremely conscious about what your intentions.

Iterative Improvement As you produce more, each iteration becomes an opportunity to apply what you've learned. This doesn't mean every new piece will be perfect, but it should be better than the last. This process of iterative improvement is akin to sculpting, where each stroke is more precise, informed by the strokes that came before. It's a cycle of creating, reflecting, learning, and improving.

Intention is your superpower.

I don't want to sound like your next-door productivity guru. I apologize for being prescriptive or cliche. But whenever I fail as a creative, its because I am completely ignorant about what I'm doing.

Nowadays its really easy to start something, draw some cubes if you are into UI, sketch something fast if you are into concept, throw some things around to get a feeling. This also relates to my consistency of vision post of maintaining intention and discipline towards creative success.

Part of this warming up process is fine. But my biggest lesson from 2023-2024 is the following: Quality (Clarity) of Briefing = Quality of Output.

The Clarity of Briefing My biggest takeaway from these years is the direct correlation between the quality of the briefing and the quality of the output. This might sound straightforward, but its implications are profound. As a director, the clearer and more intentional I am in setting the brief for my team, the closer we get to achieving the desired results, faster. And people get surprised and self esteem rises when they see how much they can create with such level of quality. I wrote about this before also how to improve productivity when working with creative teams.

Direction and Intentionality Artists and creatives, no matter how talented, require direction. This isn't about micromanaging every aspect of their work but providing a clear, concise, and well-thought-out brief that they can build upon. The more intentional you are with your brief, the less room there is for ambiguity, leading to more focused and effective creative efforts.

Harnessing Intention as a Leadership Tool As a leader in a creative team, harnessing intention is about striking the right balance between providing guidance and allowing creative freedom. It's about being clear on the 'what' and the 'why' while being open to the 'how.' This approach not only leads to better outcomes but also empowers your team, giving them a solid foundation to unleash their creativity.

Intention and Creative Problem-Solving Intentionality also plays a crucial role in creative problem-solving. When you start with a clear intention, every decision and every creative choice is made with a purpose. This doesn't mean there's no room for spontaneity or organic development, but it ensures that these creative explorations are always aligned with the core objectives of the project.

The Feedback Loop of Intention and Output The relationship between intention and output is cyclical. Clear intentions lead to focused outputs, and the results of these outputs, in turn, inform and refine your intentions for future projects. This feedback loop is a dynamic process that fosters continuous improvement and adaptability in the creative workflow.

The Power of Intention in Personal Creativity On a personal level, being intentional about your creative work means understanding your motivations, goals, and the impact you wish to make through your art. This self-awareness not only guides your creative process but also helps in articulating your vision to others, be it team members, clients, or your audience.

Artificial Intelligence is like cheating - embrace it.

It's not going anywhere. So stop with the techno-doomerism and go for it. I recently saw, within my industry some tests generated with AI that would make my job obsolete, in the next 6 to 12 months. It felt like a splash of cold water to my face. But on the other hand, I truly believe on the unlocking power of this technology and also:

"Creativity and knowledge and explanation are all fundamentally impossible to define, because once you have defined them, then you can set up a formal system in which they are then confined"

David Deutsch - https://twitter.com/DavidDeutschOxf

This is not the hope, but the wall, that should give us confidence in the beauty of the human mind. And how there are still things that we can control, our brilliance, in the pursuit of creative expression.

I recently did a gigantic pitch in two days, only using Midjourney and chat GTP, this allowed me to scale my creative vision and saved me a lot of time. The more intentional you are with what you want, the clearer the AI will provide you with the images and text that you need. But here is what I did, I used those images to brief one of the artists in my team, and the output, because it was so clear, because I could just focus on the outcome that I needed, saved us so much time of exploring.

Integrating AI with Human Creativity The true magic happens when AI-generated concepts meet human creativity. In my project, I used AI-created images as a briefing tool for the artists on the team. The clarity and specificity of these AI outputs provided a solid foundation. This integration not only saved us time that would otherwise be spent on exploratory phases but also ensured that the creative direction was focused and well-defined from the start.

Focusing on the Outcome By leveraging AI, I could concentrate more on the desired outcome rather than getting bogged down in the initial stages of concept development. This approach streamlines the creative process, allowing for more time and energy to be spent on refining and perfecting the final output.

AI as a Collaborative Partner It's important to view AI not as a replacement for human creativity but as a collaborative partner that enhances it. AI can handle the heavy lifting of generating initial ideas and concepts, freeing up creative minds to focus on higher-level aspects like conceptual refinement, emotional resonance, and aesthetic sensibilities.

Embracing AI for Competitive Advantage In a rapidly evolving creative industry, those who embrace AI will find themselves at a significant advantage. AI tools can provide a wealth of inspiration, generate diverse ideas, and offer solutions that might not be immediately obvious to the human mind. This technology is a catalyst for innovation, pushing the boundaries of what's possible in creative expression.


Finally, the magic word: Focus.

There is no way around this. I constantly have it written down in my notebooks because I need a constant reminder. Yes, a creative needs to juggle multiple things at once, but but but, the lack of focus will destroy you. You can scale focus with proper planning and blocking times for work. The industry is getting faster and faster paced, particularly with AI accelerating that change.

With more distractions, the ability to come back to the focus of the main thing, is so critical. It's easy to get your head around the next new technological shiny object. But trust me, going back with a simple plan. The plan not to get distracted from the task at hand, will put your creative output to the top 1% of creative professionals out there, and don't forget to aim to be world-class.

October 19, 2023

Telling Stories with AI

It's great that you can write a script and visualize it in 2 hours with the use of AI. Both Midjourney and ChatGTP this obviously unlocks creative power and speed. My original plan was to create this as a videogame experience, but it's too much time and effort which at the moment I do not have, so I'm releasing here the script with the visuals.

I'm not sure this is world class creative work, but for very little investment you can have a whole story visualized in half a day.

Although I think I got pretty close here is what the AI can't tell me: does my story suck? does my attempt at connecting certain story elements/jokes succeed? Is my story too obvious? The image prompts are quite on point to be honest -they even seem almost exactly what I had in my mind-. But that rises a lot of questions too. Are we complacent the first moment we see an idea close to what we want? Do we delegate too much to the AI? Being a director involves having a clear vision, so, is this a collab or does it really help the director creat the proper vision. I guess only the final product would tell.

At the moment, the product is the blog post. Hope you enjoy the story.

No More Moons

Immerse yourself in the dream. Picture a quaint suburban house with a barbecue sizzling, a frolicking golden retriever in the yard. Then, suddenly, consciousness breaks in.

Awake. Bewildered.

Which reality is the dream? Which is the tormenting nightmare?

Your surroundings are oddly familiar yet strange. A space station that echoes domestic comfort - a paradox, both a residence and a void fortress.

Peering through a shattered glass, your breath rasps, harsh and laboured. Your hand catches your attention, a haunting glow of "Oxygen 13%" emitting from it - a dreadfully unlucky number.

Before you, a lifeless screen. The station is plunged into an abyss, save for a solitary, foreboding red light that blinks ominously. As you advance towards it, reality warps around you. 

Abruptly, you're back in the garden, engulfed in uncanny silence, faint voices murmuring from nowhere.

An unsettling noise pierces the tranquility. A phone ringing, its screen pulsating red.

You touch it and find yourself back at the stark, cold station.

With trembling uncertainty, you approach the red button. As your fingers graze it, the lights stutter back to life, screens flicker and an eerie rumble resonates. It feels like a presence stirring in the metallic beast.

Now bathed in hesitant light, the station invites exploration. A door, slightly ajar, beckons. On it, a name - "N.N."

Crossing the threshold, you discover a journal - an antiquated relic of handwritten thoughts.

As your fingers brush the dusty cover, reality ripples and you find yourself transported to a cozy home office. Photos with blurred lines adorn the desk, next to an old computer and a tape recorder that murmurs cryptic sounds.

The computer awakens at your touch, a blinking cursor on the screen. With each press, a dire warning: "Oxygen 13%". Your helmet UI flickers. Another press - "Emergency procedure activated. Do you want to restart the oxygen systems? y/n."

Desperate, you respond: "Yes."

A haunting change suffuses the room - light filters in, revealing an infinite stretch of grass outside the window, under an impossibly massive moon hanging in broad daylight.

Suddenly, you're back at the space station, spinning wildly in the vast expanse. The office returns, a photo frame catching your eye - is that you? 

A blurred face, indistinguishable. Beside it, an image of a child slowly disappearing. Breath becomes a struggle.

The AI assist propels you towards the oxygen charging station.

In your frustration, you yell out “FUCK!”, and your wrist AI responds by displaying images of ducks. 

Amidst the chaos, a post-it note catches your eye: "Every day I am with him, I'm thinking I could not be having this moment."

Amidst the chaos, a post-it note catches your eye: 

"Every day I am with him, I'm thinking I could not be having this moment."

A whirl of emotions overcomes you, and suddenly, you're back at the workstation. On the screen, a smiley face. A recording echoes in the room.

Your world shatters and reforms, now presenting a child's room.

You see crayons, a chalkboard with a smiley face, a duck drawing, and a raccoon plush toy concealing a little spaceman.

This reality, of all possible ones, is one you've tried to forget. A sharp reminder of what you've lost. Yet, it's the one you're forced to relive. Your body is screaming in pain. You'd do anything to spend just one more day forgetting this and remembering it at the same time...

Oxygen is running low. You're back in the office. On the computer screen, the silhouette of a duck, a raccoon, and an astronaut. You play along with the 2D game. Upon completion, the oxygen level rises, providing temporary relief.

With the imminent danger momentarily averted, the station doesn't look as chaotic anymore. Still, it's dead silent.

A dark tunnel reveals itself when you open the fridge, leading to a room of infinite reflections - the multiverse in its entirety. 

Every possible version of you stares back, only with slight differences. Amidst them all, you spot him...

Wake up. You can't stand the sight of him lying there, tubes protruding from his mouth, struggling for breath. That's the only memory that stays. How do you escape this place?

Suddenly, you're back outside the house. Footsteps echo around you. The weight of the world is on your shoulders. The moon crashes towards the Earth, its fractures casting a beautiful yet terrifying purple glow.

Gravity bears down on you. You fall to your knees, the UI flashing a warning: "Oxygen low...3%." You're on the verge of hyperventilating.

You glance up at the sky. The space station glows in the distance.

All around you, the world dissolves into a riot of colors, ducks everywhere.

For a split second. You see a giant astronaut in the garden elevated. 

Again. I’m at the station. All screens have ducks. I glitch. 

Back in the garden. My screen cracks. UI has gone berserk. Nothin makes sense anymore. The astronaut glitches and it transforms into a giant plush toy raccoon. 

Looks at me. His eyes start to glow and I look at him. A child comes running to me and hugs me. I cry. Suddenly, there's nothing but darkness.

The sun is black. The Earth is still. A space station glides across the tranquil blackness, a lone red light blinking. An astronaut emerges, floats out, disappearing into the void. The Earth rotates, revealing a moon embedded into it.

Wake up...

The End.

© Ivan Flugelman 2022 Creative Direction, Design & Strategy in the Metaverse.