Conversations with Creatives

Conversation with an Architecture Student

One of the ideas I’ve been thinking about is doing a series of interviews with people who create. Something I’m learning is how valuable it is to get insight from other people who create. Whether others work in similar mediums as you or not, a lot can be learned about the creating process. Either through reading about a person or talking face to face, there is value in seeing things from the perspectives of others. So to start out this series, I had the opportunity to have a conversation with a friend of mine, Lenore Wan.

Lenore is currently an architecture student at the University of Oregon, pursuing a wide range of interests in design. I’ve had the opportunity to see her skills develop over the years and am very thankful for her feedback on the projects I work on.  If you want to see more of her work, you can click on the link above.

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What kind of creating do you do?

Creating is a big part of my life, from where I want to be professionally, and also how I want to shape my own home and personal lifestyle. As an architecture student, I do a lot of work in drawing and conceptualizing my projects in studio, but I like to expand my design work in other areas such as graphic design, and more recently in costume design. This year I’ve been able to explore these two realms of creating through generating promotional graphics for the University of Oregon’s architecture lecture series as well as designing a set of costumes for a dance piece. But I often find the most fun exploring the world of creating at home alone when I feel I have no constraints and can create for the pure fun and pleasure of experimentation. Currently I use mediums such as photography, sewing and painting.

What do you enjoy most about being able to create?

I enjoy the uncertainty of how something will turn out. I think there’s always a surprise in what you come up with. From having an idea in your head, you realize, through your own skills and application, you make something very different. I think finding that reality is fun and sometimes scary, and those two emotions are always unexpected. Through this process, you are able to discover more of what you are capable of, what you can improve on, and how you are able to find your own identity through the work you make.

In the process of going from an idea to final product, what steps do you go through?

Once I reach an idea, I become very excited and motivated. I write down descriptive words that convey the outcome, but also words that help me generate iterations. For example, in architecture projects I use the words “time” or “light”. Simple key words that keep me thinking of what I am designing for. I then research precedent material, and collect images that help me visually define what I’d like to achieve. Pinterest is my favorite method. I then begin sketching my own ideas, and often I look for feedback from mentors or instructors I have on the project. Lastly, I generate my final work, after many cycles of critique and reflection.

In this process you go through, do you ever face challenges? How do you approach working through them?

Yes, I find the process very challenging! There’s always critical moments throughout my projects, in which I don’t know whether I will like the outcome, or if I will achieve what I initially sought out to do. This point of doubt allows me to redefine and understand what exactly I want to get out of what I’m doing. Often I want to keep things original, while also understanding that often I’m creating for the satisfaction of others, not just myself. When I feel as though my ideas are not what I like, I tend to take breaks and focus on other things. That way, when you reevaluate your work, you are able to see the issues of what you’ve created with fresh eyes, and redesign from there. During this process, allowing yourself to gain feedback from others may also become beneficial, as it brings conversation that leads to new ideas, visions or solutions.

I appreciate the line of thinking you have about creating this dialogue between others around you. I think this fosters more meaningful work because it takes others perspectives into account, expanding your own understanding.

Yes! And I think it’s incredibly valuable to understand other people’s way of thinking and approaches to design. It’s very easy to become caught up in your own work and close yourself off from others.

Most definitely. One final question. What is the reason behind why you create what you do?

My greatest motivation to keep creating is to continue my learning and increase my opportunities. Architecture allows for a wide range of learning experiences, from understanding what has been done, to sharpening computer and conceptualization skills, to understanding the physical workings of a building. Throughout any creative process, you learn more about yourself as well, what type of work you want to do, and what works well for you. Ultimately, I’d like to achieve a point where I am confident in what I’m creating, and that others are able to enjoy and experience it as well. Being able to bring ideas to life gives me a strong sense of achievement that I don’t as easily find in other areas of work.

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