smart hive connections graphic

A new recipe for creative work

By | Creativity

The classic recipe for creative work is:

creative brief + talent = creative work

This is an old school formula. It puts the all of the planning and intention setting in a stage separate from the creative talent it seeks to inspire. A tightly written brief asks for execution, not ideation. It directs the creative process instead of immersing the project in a process. It works wonderfully for getting large amounts of projects completed but doesn’t necessarily leave deep opportunities for real creative thinking. The challenge for large organizations that work in this method is to find ways to interweave creative thinking with planning so that they don’t always end up with the same solution over and over again. Read More

UN Sustainable Develompent Knowledg Platform Goals

Solving problems close to home

By | Creativity, Design, Strategy

It’s striking how easy it is to see other people’s problems. Other countries, other communities, other cultures all have lots of problems which seem pretty clear to me when I don’t experience them. Looking out at others provides enough distance—emotional and intellectual—to arrogantly assess what’s wrong “over there.” It’s much harder and much more relevant to focus on the problems we have closer to home. Solving these problems is much more actionable and in some ways more relevant than trying to figure out how to help people who are world’s away.

The challenge is that the problems in our own homes and neighborhoods are laden with emotion. These emotions—fear, anger, resentment—can stop us from Read More

Rules to Design By from Smart Hive

Rules to design by

By | Creativity, Design

I have given a lot of thought over the years about how to work as a designer. Designers are expected to design at least eight hours a day, every day of the week. It’s a lot. It’s a  challenge to keep up our creativity for 40 hours of design demand a week. While I managed a staff of creative people, I developed my ideas about what helped people continue to be creative day in and day out. These five rules to design by draw from the wisdom of others, as well as my experience creating every day. There are many more rules but these are five that never vary.

1. Develop your own way to create original imagery

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Icons for why we make from Smart Hive

Why we make?

By | Creativity

Most creative people I know have always made things. Making something — art, music, dinner — fulfills a deeply innate need inside of us. Instagram is full of “I made this!” photos of afghans, snowmen, babies and other things we are proud to have made. By the time we turn that creative urge into a career, we suddenly realize that making things for a living isn’t always as fulfilling as it once was. Now making things involves other people. And it involves money. People and money can botch up any creative project, so we need to look at the real motivation for our creations so we can be clear about why we are making what we make. Read More

creative strategy parameters

What is creative strategy?

By | Creativity | No Comments

I am a big fan of having a creative strategy, a clear approach to getting excellent creative work that is on target and on brand. Most people are in big favor of having excellent creative that is on target and on brand but they don’t know how to get it. Many people feel it is a hit or miss process. I couldn’t disagree more. When we create a strategy to outline the creative process and creative thinking required for this particular project, we can feel confident that the ensuing creative will be fantastic. Read More

carla at eyeo festival 2011

Why I started Smart Hive

By | Creativity, Data Visualization, Information Design

I decided to start Smart Hive, an agency focused on information design, data visualization and creative strategy, because I got a email. Out of the blue, in 2011, I received a promotional announcement for a conference in the Twin Cities called Eyeo Festival. I had never heard of it before because it never existed before. Dave Shroeder, founder of PilotVibe and Flashbelt, Jer Thorp, data visualist, and Wes Grubbs, founder of Pitch Interactive, dreamt up a conference focusing on the growing convergence of art, data visualization, creative code and media arts. Read More