Unit 6, Entry 2: Finding Flow

Posters created for Minnesota Public Radio's alternative music station. An example of "flow."

In his book, Finding Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes “flow” as the “state of effortless concentration and enjoyment” that individuals experience when they are working towards achieving a particular task or goal. This state is often referred to as “being in the zone” and it is often experienced in our most enjoyable, rewarding and fulfilling moments of life.

In my creative work, I have enjoyed many such moments of blissful lucidity which I would describe as perfect examples of “flow.” These moments often happen whenever I approach design problems in a “playful” manner – not necessarily concerning myself with the final outcome, but instead, allowing the creative process to dictate the outcome. These projects often feel like I’m painting on the canvas, rather than designing on it. The ‘rules’ of good typography, proper grid structures, and engaging color harmonies are still very much a part of these projects, but they are loose interpretations rather than strict mandates. Things like rhythm, visual texture, color and balance become the driving factors and the communication happens almost serendipitously. The message feels like a part of the piece rather than the purpose of it – if that makes any sense.

I’m not certain how to constantly achieve this state of flow in my work, but I suspect that approaching the design problem with a playful attitude is key to getting there. By that, I mean that instead of approaching the design problem in a more systematic and prescribed or formulaic manner, allowing myself to approach it with feeling. What feels good? What resonates? Perhaps, in a word, to create art, rather than design.