Metamodernism has been a starting point in my mind to uncover creative solutions for years. Mind mapping thoughts, thinking about problems, and finding new ways to help clients reach their goals has been a journey and a process. This journey has helped me to shape and define my own process, while simultaneously being aware of how I have reached creative solutions that have inspired millions, generated billions in revenue and solved major problems for any client I have worked with. From redesigning digital platforms, photography shoots, creating my own clothing line, designing mobile apps, and studying the nuances of analytics and data for new and effective e-commerce solutions, all of these creative projects have been solved through finding and uncovering new paths. For me, this creative approach has been something I have visited time and again in my own mind, to map out these solutions and provide results.
I don’t believe that I am any more creative than anyone else. I believe that we are all put on this earth to create, inspire and help each other. If there is a divine purpose for your life, this is it. If you’ve been trying to discover your purpose in life, try creating and see what that does. Business, accounting, authors, artists, developers, receptionists, politicians, super market checkout employees, millionaires, billionaires, and even the unemployed have vast amounts of creativity in their daily lives. The goal is to recognize it, uncover it and use it to fulfill your purpose.
For me, this journey has been built around problem solving through visual design. Knowing front-end development was a means to an end in my early days. I needed to understand the complexity of the problems I am trying to solve. If college taught me anything, it was how to embrace the idea of learning and doing it quickly. I fell in love with learning. I am still learning today. I encourage you to find a passion for learning new things and immerse yourself. For me, today it’s about investing, bonsai trees, archery, cooking and metamodernism. I won’t stop learning and push myself to constantly become a master of the things I am passionate about.
To start, metamodernism has been a way for me to define the way I see how to solve problems in the visual world. Directly related to visual design and communication, metamodernism has been a tool I have used, combined with my education in public relations to find new ways of communicating effectively with large audiences.
Awareness. Attention. Adaptation.
In order to effectively think about solving problems with new creative solutions, you have to understand the problem first. Once you know the problem, you need to communicate by creating awareness to your audience. For me, this resulted in thinking about ways to communicate differently. Create awareness by understanding your industry, your marketplace and do something different. I repeat – do something different. Just because your competitor is making shiny new products with safe and boring messaging doesn’t mean that you should double down on your efforts and try and snuff them out by having 2x as many safe and boring messages. Create real awareness by pushing the limits and doing the honest thing for yourself.
Honesty isn’t always pretty. To get real results, you have to understand that there is a real balance between beauty and chaos. This is where metamodernism approaches start to reveal themselves. The oscillation visually will create awareness on an individual level, a target audience level, and an industry level. You must be honest and use the ideology of metamodernism to embrace the honesty and create real awareness.
I always push the limits in my visual work. Even the stuff that never makes it out of the board room. The executives want a safe approach. That’s their right. They call the shots. But the conversation opens and continues with the idea that we should be pushing the limits and trying new approaches to design, visuals and how we communicate. My internal approach is always the honest intention to balance two feelings at once. Visually, I achieve this by finding the creative paths that will generate these responses. Grunge textures with a beautiful and hopeful message. Dark designs with inspiring and beautiful products. Light and clean minimal designs with uncomfortable or casual messaging. See the balance? All meant to create awareness. For UX and digital app design, this can be achieved through using standard and recognized interactions combined with evoking emotions through color theory, messaging and imagery to give a strong foundation to the brand.
Awareness is best created when honesty is always leading the discussion. Using that honesty to balance universal notions of beauty, chaos, life, death, inspiration, destruction, etc. will help you discover new creative paths and approaches to whatever you’re working on – either visually, or in a 9-5 office job.
Attention is then gained by de-framing. You have to disarm your audience. So they can discover the truth of who you are for themselves. They must reach their own conclusions about you, your product and your brand. No one wants to be told what to think. And word of mouth is the most powerful tool there is. Letting others feel something and making their minds up for themselves is the best approach to getting the right attention. Metamodernism and my creative thoughts have always led me down a path of getting attention by creating honest awareness. Our propaganda meters are incredibly high now days. If you don’t believe what you’re saying 100%, and you’re saying it purely for attention for your brand, my advice, it’s garbage and it’s going to fail. Most people who play it safe double down on this approach and wonder why they have to keep going back to the drawing board when things fail. See my above paragraph about board room conversations where the conversations begin to develop about being honest with the project and the brand as a whole.
Adaptation. Everyone wants everyone to love whatever they’re doing. You want people to adapt to your design, your thinking, your creative ideas, your product. You must first be honest with yourself. You must say the honest things. And you you must communicate the honesty through visual design, messaging and your product. All of this will find truth if you approach it from a metamodern perspective. Understanding that life is about balance. Life is beautiful and messy. Life is light and dark. Feed those notions simultaneously into your work and the truth will emerge. You will create great things and you will resonate deeply with your audience.
For me, I approach every project like this. Whether it’s art, a print design, a high profile digital platform design or a photoshoot. You must recognize those moments where intention and honesty can shape or destroy the project. Finding the balance between the polarity of two extremes happening at once, not just within yourself, but how the project must be completed will do amazing things for your creative work.
For the longest time, I have tried to define the inner workings of how I think about solving creative problems. Metamodernism and the notion that two things operating at the same time is the world we live in. The world we have created. Is the most honest form of communication – both visually and through messaging. The traditional, old, safe approach has been worn out. Even today, large agencies only want to pitch the traditional safe things to clients, but with a small hope that they may choose the one that will start to transform how the world sees their company through a deeper, honest lens. To do this today, I firmly believe that my metamodern approach to solving these types of problems has many proven results. My hope is that this type of thinking I have shared, will help you in the future.
I will continue to write about this way of thinking. Paired with the ideas around metamodernism, I believe this is the way that I have been looking at the world, design, art and culture and making work for years. It comes from growing up in Seattle during the grunge era. Fully immersed in post-modernism, studying Biblical Theology, and trying to find the meaning in a cynical worldview of irony that is the post-modernist thinking. It never resonated with me, but I found the commentary on society to make sense. Still, there was something more that lingered and out of that, I have discovered that my creative approach has been along the lines of metamodernism for almost a decade. The oscillation between life/death, digital/print, beauty/chaos. It’s all there. And it has helped me to generate real results in my work. I hope it can help you too.