But I already know what I want to make……

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As a footnote or extension to my previous post concerning creativity within a limited range of possibilities another art room assignment comes to mind and one that touches on many other subject areas within a school. This being a poster design assignment.
The presentation of information has changed a lot in recent years, particularly in the increasingly hot area of info-graphics. The prevalence of digital technology within the school setting offers the possibility of teenagers producing work of near professional quality. Yet when the pupil sits down at the computer and opens up the design software they are so often overwhelmed by the choice, quite simply almost anything is possible. So many interesting effects and layouts are possible.
The idea that it might actually be a good idea to pick up a pencil first and produce a few thumbnail design layouts of extreme simplicity is important but at the same time, in the eyes of many pupils, an unnecessary waste of time, when they either “know what they want to do” or simply want to sit do at the computer an start to fiddle around the possibilities.
I have found that a more “dirty fingers” approach can work well in establishing an initial design idea. Giving the pupils the following for instance:
A white A4 sheet
An A5 sheet of coloured paper
A piece of imagery printed out in two different sizes
A title text printed out in two sizes
A couple of blocks of text simply cut out of a newspaper or magazine
The assignment is, within these extremely limited means to produce an interesting and dynamic layout design on the A4 sheet.
Allow a whole class to try this assignment it can be surprising what they come up with. Lay all the designs out on a table at the end of the session and the pupils will see for themselves just how creative the solutions can be, particularly with the possibilities offered by a simple sheet of coloured paper. These rough collages can of course then become the springboard for the digital work that may come later.
This is another simple but clear example of an assignment framed up with quite tight restrictions that can successly encourage the creativity of pupils or students in a wide range of age groups.

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