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Bold & Fearless Design

Lesson 10 of 26

Generating Ideas: Sketches & Pushups

James Victore

Bold & Fearless Design

James Victore

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Lesson Info

10. Generating Ideas: Sketches & Pushups

Lesson Info

Generating Ideas: Sketches & Pushups

generating ideas. This is hard. This is the good stuff, generating ideas where new ideas come from. How do we get them? How do we access them? It's called sketches and push ups. I learned a number of years ago. I worked for a ah, very funky greeting card company in New York and I worked on a commission basis. So that meant if I gave them one card and it sold Well, um, every quarter I would get a check for like, $ which was like not much money, right? Not much incentive. But if I proposed 100 cards to them and they chose 30 of them, I would get and there was sold. Well, I would get a quarterly check of right more so every summer in the beginning, the middle of the summer. I'm sitting at a bar somewhere, coming up with as many Christmas ideas as many holidays ideas as many Hanukkah ideas. I'm like doing push ups. You guys, anybody go to the gym. I like sports references. I like sports metaphors and go to the gym and exercise. You know, right, if you go to the gym and you're like you do t...

o push ups. You like it? Okay. Shower, you know. No, you don't. You've got to doom. Or that's the only way you get strong. You due to the next day. You do three. Next day you go back to two things that you before, right? This is important. Sketches air the same thing. Sketches of the same thing. So instead of spending time painting the hell out of Ah squid, take that time. How about this? How about this? How about this about this? How about this searching, Searching down There's there's there's, ah, another cliche and a little story that people often say about this idea of sketches and this idea of finding your your answer and they always talk about you guys heard this. I I'm I didn't want to use the metaphor, but it's that thing about Michelangelo. And the marble block was like, Well, I looked inside the marble block and I saw the David, You know what I mean? Like you and it's but it's kind of like that for us. There's this, you know, you get a sheet of paper and you get this idea and you kind of have to figure your way in. Where are you in there? So I hate the Michelangelo metaphor, but it's to me. It's more like this. There's this big, huge marble block, and you're like, Do that first, right? Right. It's interesting. And there's another idea that I've had a bunch for a bunch of years and it's called one plus one equals three. Meaning, meaning one plus one equals two, is not interesting. A lot of what we a lot of what we do in a lot of what we most of what we see out in the streets is one plus one equals two. It's logical. It's it satisfies the objective. But there's no poetry. There's no empathy. There's no there's no humor. There's no sex appeal. There's no right. Its just logical it's one plus one equals two. So for a number of years I was talking about this idea of one plus one equals three. When you put things together, I'm talking about this this magic that happens when you take two images and you put them together or an idea with an image that doesn't go with it, and you put it together the illogical stuff. But now I've gotten to a point in my career where it's not wanted. 20 calls. Three anymore. It's one plus one equals gummy bear. One plus one equals gummy bear punk. Gummy bear Driving a Camaro like it's like it's could be anything. We live in a cartoon world, Really. I mean, we do. We make stuff up. That's what we do for a living. Serious play, right? We make these things up. Cartoon World reminds me. You know I love it because when people say, you know, well, well, in the real world, you know when you can't do like that the rule I'm like Albert Einstein Never heard this. Albert Einstein said there is no, uh, reality is an illusion. Albert Einstein said reality is an illusion, although a very persistent one. Right, if you're following reality, if you're living logical reality, you're following arbitrary rules. Made it by basically the mass, right. It's just, like is the cliche right? I want to do a little live kind of sketching idea thing with you. Um, I'll do all the work up here. I'm gonna use this pan because it's darker, I think. Okay, so I've got this thing, this assignment, that I like doing with my classes, and it's called, um, yesterday, Today. Tomorrow. Okay. When you were gonna do a little bit of it. And it looks like this, right? That's the format. And this this this assignment I learned from one of my one of my mentors and teachers and his name is is a Polish cat. His name is Henry Thomas Chayefsky, and he was the father of what they called a modern poster school. He was, uh, a friend Fine for for a number of years. And I sat in his house and road articles on him, and he's an amazing, amazing designer. Um, he died a bunch of years ago, but yesterday, Today? Tomorrow. So what we do is you use these boxes and these were not. This format is not to be confused with Sunday morning comics because it's not like that. Right? Um, but this is yesterday. This is today, and this is tomorrow, and I'll show you example. So, like, this is the best one that's ever been done. So don't even try to get better than this. And it's this yesterday. I don't even know what that is. Right? You know, you can guess what? You don't know what it is. Now you know what it is? Yesterday? Done, period today. Power pose. What's tomorrow? Yeah, baby. Right. Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow. Okay, here's a Here's a good one. This takes and drawing. Hold on Playing theme music while I'm driving. Oh, wait. I'm supposed be on this side when I drop away. There's camera there is getting confusing. Bam, bam! But I have a plan for everybody. Right? Okay. There, yesterday. Little plant right today Tree. What's happened? Grow right. You You understand why we made the leap of faith from that to that? Now we have to make the leap of faith from here to the next picture. What's the next picture? Many small ones. Good. They spores and forests. And it's right. Good answer building. Like what kind of building? A wooden building. Or why or what are you saying? We just, like, cut that down. Just go across the links Acropolis? No, because we have to kind of know it can't just be like the pyramids of Giza, because again you lose us. There's no logic to it. There's no we're telling a story and we've lost us. Ah, stump. Sad giving tree, right? An apple. Cool. Toothpicks a lot of, um, paper instead of a stomp marina chair made of wood. Get it? Cut the tree down. Matter one. But what else? Tunnel going through the tree with road. Oh, yeah. You got that big? Yeah, right. What about this one? That, like this answer. Why is that interesting for us? Us were involved. You can show me. You know, there was there was a movie a bunch of years ago called Milo and Otis. And it was there was a human voice over, over like it was the adventures. Like a kitten in a dog or a possum in it. Pay I Doesn't matter. Too little animal tool. Cute animals on their They went on a little adventure and they were void of human voice overs. Take the human voice overs out, and it's a really stupid movie because we don't care, you know, because we're not involved. Here's do another one. Still one down here. Let's do what What? All right, All right. There's a sheep. There's a sweater. What's the middle one? Yarn? Here's shears factory. Okay, those air, All crew V. Let's up the ante on that one. I got an idea. Don't drunk. There's a pig and hot dogs. What's the middle one? Oh, people, white people, Because we're doing those two. So if I just show a bunch of people there one person, a knife factory, what's okay now? Here's thing. What's the most interesting answer? That's the thing. People maybe make sense. Knife makes sense, Poop, I guess if you're like Oh, you know what? Actually this the fact that we've laughed, is interesting and important and have to pay attention to it again. Play. Um, I often say they say, What, James, what do you do for a living? I see I sit at a big table and I work really hard to make myself laugh. That's important, But the poop thing is interesting. If you want to tell a very specific story, right, if you were doing an article for for the Times or something about E. Coli like Booyah, you got it because you got you'll show pagan and you'll show poop. And then you'll show the hot dog in some way that it's like, Oh, it's like really the best hot dog you'll ever have, But we don't know that there's a trick inside. There's a special gift. Yeah, what about this, right? It's like, Oh, just this process that you don't want to know. It's this kind of growth. Lisa. What we're going to say what? Your meat hook? Yeah. Yeah, we're, um So you guys should try this at home. Try. This is a great practise. Yesterday, Today, tomorrow. And then when you get do you get to a certain point, what you do is get us, uses scissors and cut them up and start pushing around and see if I take the middle one out and the last one is now the middle one and see what story you can tell. You know, it's a great practice, that kind of idea generation and just kind of like, how about this? How about this? How about this? Um, you know, things like if you practice this stuff long enough, you get good at it. That's there's no secret to it. It's just practice. It's about, you know, doing using the brush for 10 years or doing yesterday today, tomorrow for 10 years you get do you get good at it? Um, yes. So in regards to like actual project. You have. Like you're just picking something. You pick a pig, you're picking stuff stuff randomly, sort of. But like if you had an assignment like literal or another assignment, how would you apply that? This is a good question. And Ian and he asked, Basically, like, what relevance does this have to, You know, our work, And I will use a sports metaphor if you were, uh, say, um, you know, a soccer player on my team, I would have you doing, ah, lot of sit ups and a lot of push ups. Okay, how many pushups do you do in a soccer game? How many sit ups do you do in a soccer game? Zero. But the conditioning is really important. The strength is really important. Um, the ability to kind of play and what this is is like, really free play. Because when you're working, we tend to get very myopic and going towards a certain goal. And I want to kind of open that up. I want you to be to be Teoh. See that, um, how other things can possibly be of value to you. Like I had a love assignment once. That was pretty. That was That was pretty great. You guys know the, um that, uh, where they call it that, uh, they call it spooning. You know, when two people cup in bed like spooning, write something some, some gal bunch of years ago for the love assignment. She was making that reference, but she she changed it. So there was a spoon, and then underneath was a fork. Tell me about that relationship, right. Who's not gonna be there in the morning? Right? How long are they gonna be together? This is an interesting relationship when you're talking about spooning. Or it could be that you know, that that relationship that somehow works, you know, we could be talking about interracial. You talk about a bunch of different things, I don't know. We can go in a number of different ways just by just by tweaking the, um, the details

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

An empowered designer is a truly creative designer. Let designer, author, artist, and activist, James Victore show you how to trust your instinct and embrace imperfection in Bold & Fearless Design.

When you follow the trends your ideas stagnate and you don’t create the kind of memorable pieces that get you noticed. Victore knows the antidote to that creative rut. Victore has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and is represented in the permanent collections of museums worldwide. His commercial work continues to wow by being sexy, strong, and memorable.

Learn how you can make work that is captivating and uniquely you by taking a behind-the-scenes look at this renowned designer’s method, thinking, and inspiration. Victore will talk about playing with different tools (not just digital ones) and rethinking the role of a designer. 

You’ll learn:

  • Exercises for generating concepts and design solutions
  • How to incorporate your hand into your work
  • Unexpected image-making tools and techniques
  • Software strategies for turning the analog into digital

Poster design inspiration is the perfect blank canvas for experimentation. Posters can be adapted for anything from a book covers to dinner plates. In this class, the poster format provides a launching point for discussing by-hand design and reimagining creative possibilities.

Don’t be boring. Watch Bold & Fearless Design with James Victore and energize your unique creative spark.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

James Victore - 10 Type Rules

bonus material

James Victore - Bold and Fearless Poster Design Course Supplies.pdf

James Victore - Litter Poster Client Brief.pdf

James Victore - Suggested Reading List.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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I am not a graphic designer, I'm an artist, but this class translates beautifully. James' teaching style is nothing short of delicious - fresh, alive, fun, exciting - while being full of depth and poignant, valuable content, much of which transcends medium and brings value to any creative individual. I found particular value in the lessons around tools (and altering tools), the criteria for good work, the need to infuse your opinion into your work, the value of abandoning perfection, paying attention to cancer that is one's ego and that we are meant to be creators, and not 'the help'. More than anything else though, I benefited from being reminded, with such a burning passion, that we are not put on this earth to pay a mortgage and support a family, but to identify our true work and to bring it into existence in this world. So nice to reminded of something I know but forget on a regular basis. One of the best online classes I have ever taken - a real home run.


I loved this course! Exceeded every notion I had. The design, concepts and principles were fun, funny and insightful. But James went so far beyond the "poster design" and into the philosophy, thinking, inspiration - huge! I am so glad I watched this course not only for the quick wit and fast humor (Jame's is smart! Sharp... And Really Funny - compliments his teaching and design), but the reading list he suggests, ways to nudge your creativity and the fashion with which he gets you thinking... Invaluable! Organic, Rich, Impact and message - this course has the design "how-to" covered, the real pearls are Jame's humble experience and generosity. Great Course... Oh, and check out his book! "Victore! or, Who Died and Made You Boss?" Inspiration and fun!

a Creativelive Student

Came to this course (and site) via Anna Dorfman's blog. Loved the motivational and philosophical aspects of the course. Very entertaining and inspirational. Also loved listening to Victore discuss his own work and process-- the stories of how he got specific ideas, tinkered with them, perfected them, etc.. As for the critiques of student and online work, I didn't find them very useful. I would love to see him pick out a few of the very best, and then give his own short and sweet-- and specific-- insights into how HE would improve them. Or just abandon the critiques entirely and instead show and discuss more of his own or other successful designers' work. Overall, fun and inspirational, with some helpful tips.