Point/Counterpoint: To Connect or Disconnect

As we continue to explore the theme of Mobile Creativity for the month of June, we’ll be highlighting all the ways in which mobile and tablet devices have changed the nature of the creative process.

That technological advances and increased connectivity have had an impact on how people in visual communications do their jobs is no longer a matter of debate. But there is still much to be said about the consequences of that impact, and everyone has their own way of balancing all the screens with all the ideas. Now that mobile and tablet devices have become a ubiquitous part of everyday life for most creative professionals, we wanted to know what your careers would look like without them. So we asked the ADC community to consider a doomsday scenario:

Would your creative career flourish or stagnate if you destroyed all of your gadgets, tablets and mobile devices?

ME_black-and-whiteBy Paul Watmough, Freelance Multi Disciplinary Creative, Hamburg, Germany

Stagnate. A picture of a horse is a picture of a horse; a picture of a car is a picture of a car. Sounds straight forward, right? Well, it once was, but not anymore. The use of second screen devices in today’s creative process elevates and extends the possibilities of the reality we once took for granted.  As a child (and an adult too!), I used to draw robots — lots of robots. My mind would run riot as I drew epic interplanetary battles, with gunfights and explosions filling every available space on the page. The carnage that unfolded within my sketchbooks simply looked like a crisscross of lines, squiggles and random shapes to anyone else who saw them. But to me, it all made sense. What I saw on the page was a physical manifestation of the playground in my mind.

With today’s mobile technology, and limitless apps, the stories we used to create in our heads can become a living, breathing part of our reality. We can effortlessly combine augmentation, animation, sound, and even contributions from friends or strangers across a multitude of social networks. We can stretch the boundaries of reality as much, and as far, as we like. Second screen devices in the creative process free one’s mind and unlock an expansive universe of tools and ideas that we once only dreamed of. Paint, pencils, paper and even the horse all have a new foe, with endless possibilities that are designed to unlock and push your imagination. It’s playtime again!


ADC_Nireesha_Prakash_PointCounterpointBy Nireesha Prakash, Communication Designer, Vancouver, CA

Flourish. Whether we like it or not, we can agree that it is unimaginable to completely extract ourselves from our gadgets these days. And it’s important to acknowledge that I am not a utopist and I love technology as much as the next 10 year old. But what I have recently observed for myself in life and in my own creative practice as a Communication Designer is how gadgetry can obstruct the path of creativity and the creative process. A difficulty that design faces is the dialectic between creativity and automation that comes through these gadgets. Our gadgets leave us constantly connected, demanding answers or inspiration immediately from technology instead of exploring what is around us.Have you ever noticed that some of your best ideas came to you when in the shower or when lying in bed, or riding a bike? I can say from experience, that some of my most interesting ideas took place not when I was connected but disconnected from any gadgets. Research by Baird and Schooler of the University of California suggests these monotonous and slow tasks actually help activate other parts of the brain that contribute to creativity and problem-solving. The ‘slow process’ is a way of thinking that I recently came across and began to practice. The slow process advocates for an intentionally slower and more engaged connection with your work. I think it’s important we find those moments of slowness where we step away from our gadgets and look at a blank wall. It will only enhance our creative thought process. Einstein is said to have stared at a wall for several hours in his Princeton Office from time to time. Surely, that brings merit to a slower process.


Without gadgetry I would certainly miss the immediate global network and collaborations it can develop. However, when it comes to strategic and creative thinking, it is best done when we step away from our gadgets.

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