Hunting inspiration? What about provocation?

Inspiration Inspiration INSPIRATION! It can be elusive, sometimes mean and many times just blocked! And you start to wonder: where are those infamous muses? And you spend hours trying to catch them, watching with puppy eyes other guy’s work.
And then two feelings fill your heart: despair and the can’t-keep-your-mouth-closed (or jaw dropped) feeling.
The first one, because we think, not in a million years will we craft such beauty; and the second one, well, hypnotized by those design wonders.
Been there?
I know I have. Of course everything in life has its learning curve and there is nothing wrong in admiring or trying to achieve similar results to those of your “maestros”.
But I think it’s time to change the way we get inspired. It’s time to open the door for those evasive muses – they seem to be close friends to only a few, and never answers our calls or even a voice message.
Is time to Provoke.

Main Entry: pro·voke
Pronunciation: pr&-‘vOk
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French *provoker, provocher, from Latin provocare, from pro- forth + vocare to call, from voc-, vox voice — more at PRO-, VOICE
1 a archaic : to arouse to a feeling or action b : to incite to anger
2 a : to call forth (as a feeling or action) : EVOKE <provoke laughter> b : to stir up purposely <provoke a fight> c : to provide the needed stimulus for <will provoke a lot of discussion>
– pro·vok·er noun

That’s right! To Provoke, To Excite, To Stimulate! First we should have provocation to then gain inspiration as a result. We need to stimulate our senses to provoke fresh ideas, new connections. Maybe we are spending too much time looking at other people’s finished designs (I love to do that) , and not searching for provocation.
Let’s ask ourselves, what stimulated that guy? What has he got, that he ended up with that great piece of art? Sure they have their own Provoking Agents: Music, images, sports you name it.

Provocation as a Creativity Technique

Provocation is an important lateral thinking technique. It works by moving your thinking out of the established patterns that you’re used to to solve problems.

How to Use the Tool:
We begin by making deliberately stupid statements (Provocations), in which something we take for granted about the situation is not true. Statements need to be stupid to shock our minds out of existing ways of thinking. Once we have made a provocative statement, we then suspend judgment and use that statement to generate ideas. Provocations give us original starting points for creative thinking.
Once you have made the Provocation, you can use it in a number of different ways, by examining:
* The consequences of the statement
* What the benefits would be
* What special circumstances would make it a sensible solution
* The principles needed to support it and make it work
* How it would work moment-to-moment
* What would happen if a sequence of events was changed
* Etc.
You can use this list as a checklist.

An example.
Imagine a client asks you to design packages for his brand-new t-shirts, and he wants something funny and clever aimed at young adults.
Let’s make a stupid statement. How about T-shirts sold as pizza?
Stupid? Maybe, but what if you package them as if they were? That’s the solution found:
They put the t-shirts inside Pizza boxes. Fun, fresh, young concept. So don’t be afraid provoke your creativity with “stupid” ideas, maybe they could explore an angle that nobody else has seen before.


As I’ve said before, first you have to be provoked to then be inspired as a result. I will share my favorite provocators.
Open the window! : Yahoo! Widgets : Flickr
Flickr is a magnificent source of provocation/inspiration. This widget is a way to take advantage of it. After installing this widget, set it to “always on top” of you desktop. You then just need to choose a tag for the widget to show. Use whatever comes to your mind, a concept like “Fun”, “Joy”, “Love” or colors “Blue”, “Red”, “Yellow” or a combinations of tags, like “Red Toy” or whatever.
Play with it!
Sometimes when I just feel like chilling I start to play with it trying out crazy tags. It’s a good way to make my mind rest for a while. Or, for relaxing, I try flowers or sunsets or beaches.
Then let the widget show it to you. Personally, I like a little provocation window showing random visual stimuli that could trigger that spark.


Stumble upon great stuff
No is not just a time-waster…
…nor a social bookmark site nor the latest eBay acquisition. It’s also a provocator! Use it the normal way: just click on the SU logo on your browser toolbar and viola! A random interesting site appears in front of your eyes that could break you routine, refresh your mind, give you ideas. If you prefer you can select a category to be stumble, like photography, multimedia, horror etc.
I must confess that many of the best stuff I have found on the web has been via stumble. Used as a creative tool, it could be even more interesting.
Be Cool
When I discovered this site I couldn’t believe how much “coolness’ was gathered in place. And guys, if we want to make cool designs we have to be in the know, in the trend of cool stuff, in music, industrial design, art, ads, travel, gadgets, architecture.
One of my favorite categories (I think I luv them all) is Clubs and bars, because they are open to be wilder and more over top than other spaces.
So be sure to subscribe to this juicy RSS feed or their email alerts.

Tying up

Provocation for me is anything that excites my brain to pop ideas and feelings, an open the door to inspiration. It’s looking for inspiration in different places. It’s sending a pager to those stuck-up muses.
What provokes you?

2 thoughts on “Hunting inspiration? What about provocation?”

  1. You really gave me something to think about. I’m an amateur designer and the worst part is always to start the project; inspiration flies very far sometimes, but your “provocation” tips gave a line to follow, I’ll explore more related sites and get inspired when working. Thanks!

  2. Looking for more provocation? Just get up and leave the house!… go to you local museums and art galleries (and also observe everything that surround you during the journey). You can find excellent “provocators” along the way.
    As a plastic artist who uses his hands to represent what he sees and feels, you use your mouse to do so, and your whole environment is your muse, take advantage of it!
    As I read today in a graffiti “Design is not God but it’s everywhere”

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