(Intro: One of the bigger challenges for a creative person is in trying to keep things fresh. Generating new ideas takes a lot out of you, and when you’re plain tuckered out it’s easy to recycle old stuff or come up with more weak, stale old Pablum. For me, it’s a runnng battle. This week we’ll explore some ideas on keeping it fresh, distilled to 3 graffs.)
Back in the 1970s a graphics artist named Edmund C. Arnold put together the definitive rule book for newspaper and publication layout, Arnold’s Ancient Axioms. It was my textbook for design, and his teachings followed me everywhere I worked. Right from the jump Arnold admitted it’s easy to get caught up in a bunch of rules; his very first Axiom basically said to “take these axioms with a grain of salt.”
Arnold argued that while you won’t go wrong by following the rules of your craft such as grammar or music theory, your work probably won’t excite anyone either.
I’ve seen artists appear to break some of those rules while not actually doing so, like a jazz musician who can make it sound like he’s leaving the chord changes without really leaving the chord changes. That’s risky business, but if you can pull something like that off your audience will definitely pay attention.