Vase? Rose? Vase Rose?

Vase RoseThis is an easy assignment in the way that there are so many things you can combine together. On the other hand, this is not easy at all since most of the obvious ideas have been exploited by others. There was no methodology I employed to come up with this idea. I just sat in front of my desk, served myself with some yogurt, and let my thought flow. I had thought about the window, earphone, ceiling fan, and dragonfly before a pink rose came into my mind – there was absolutely no connection between them. The closest thing to a rose was probably the strawberry in my yogurt. And then I thought, “A rose. A rose in a vase. What about a vase in a rose?”

I had some experience with Photoshop so did not encounter many troubles to realize my idea. Although the modification was not just cropping and putting them together, the backgrounds of the original photos were simple, making it convenient for me to edit.

In the hindsight, it is counter-intuition that makes this photo interesting, as my intuition led me to the vase when I saw the rose. The way that my brain usually works helps me eliminate “abnormal” and thus “useless” information, in which creative and interesting ideas may hide.


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Sketch 4: Combophoto

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Visual Note Taking

Sketch 3
Visual Note for Strategic Management: Porter’s Five Forces

It is the hardest assignment so far in this course. Different from the last sketch in which I struggled with coming up an idea, this time I found the perfect topic – Porter’s Five Forces – as soon as I learned it in the Strategic Management class. Developed by Dr. Porter at Harvard Business School, Porter’s Five Forces is a framework widely utilized to examine the industry and help people understand the market forces that shape the landscape. I naturally took a visual approach to learn the concept and thought Porter’s Five Forces would be a great topic for this visual note-taking assignment.

I employed an analogy to better illustrate the concept. The beauty stands for a customer demanding the best product in the market, representing the power of customers. Knights fighting for the love of the beauty stand for companies fighting for the customer’s money, representing the competition in the industry. The blacksmith stands for a supplier selling armors and weapons to the knights, representing the power of suppliers. The knight away from the fight stands for a potential new competitor, representing the potential of new entrants. Finally, the rich man persuading the beauty to give a higher priority to money than physical strength stands for substitutes that can also meet the customers’ needs, representing the threat of substitutes. Altogether, these five forces determine the profitability and future of an industry.

The hardest part is to put my thoughts on paper because I am not artistic at all. I had not done any drawings since high school, and this was my first time drawing on an iPad, even though I bought my Apple Pencil a long time ago. At first, I just wanted to use some symbols and icons and complete the assignment. However, after seeing Sulaiman’s and Joyce’s works, I decided to push myself and actually draw something. It was very frustrating at the beginning as I had no sense of scale and curvature and failed several times. Then I decided to google some examples and learned from them. At last, I managed to depict my own characters and complete my visual note for Porter’s Five Forces.

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“3… 2… 1… Liftoff!”

Rocket1I do not know if there is a more productive way to come up with creative ideas. At least for me, the whole process was like making wine – all I could do was to have all the ingredients in mind and just wait.

I scrutinized every object in my life and saved it to my brain, hoping these items would eventually collide and generate enough energy for my light bulb of creativity. I planned a period to think and set a deadline for myself. I lay on my bed, sat on the sofa, or walked around the room, but nothing came to me. I also tried to find similar works by others to facilitate my brainstorming but soon gave up this practice. Amazed but also frustrated by others’ creativity, I started to question myself if I have the talent to complete this assignment. In the end, I said to myself, “Well, I cannot spend all my time on this.” and switched my focus to other works.

I was listening to some R&B beats on Youtube when the idea came out of the blue. There was no pencil nor batteries in front of me, and I was not expecting it at all. But it happened, not too late or too soon, just right before the due.


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Reflection: Literacy Narrative, Part 1

In my narrative, “Visualization, Imagination, and Immersive Experience”, I come to the conclusion that my language learning experience and my personality have led me to read and write with visualization and imagination. They bring me immersive reading and writing experiences from which I derive a lot of enjoyment.

Reading and writing are so common in the daily life that I was not aware of the typical way I read and write until I reflected upon my past experiences. Therefore, the pre-writing before I read and thought about the prompt was a crucial step. It helped me identify patterns, develop my thesis, and support my arguments with my own experiences. The way I write also manifested itself during the process – “I would first think of a scene as detailed as possible and turned it into words.” In pre-writing, I elaborated on three scenes that went as specific as “Through the leaves and branches, the late summer sunlight came from the windows on my left, leaving light spots on my favorite book, Stories of the Romans.” Visualization and imagination are pivotal elements of my reading and writing habits. Even now when I am writing this reflection post, I have the pictures of me in my head sitting in a booth and drafting my essay.

With the materials in hand, I started to work on the literacy narrative. I identified my language learning experience in my childhood and my introversion to be the most influential factors. The structure, however, was a little bit complex. Not only did I have two factors to discuss, but I also had two subjects – the way I read and the way I write – to analyze. Furthermore, the two factors seemed to shape my reading and writing habits in different periods of my life, of which I was not aware at the beginning. I felt weird reading my first draft and resorted to a writing tutor. The tutor also found the structure complicated and suggested drawing it out on paper. As I pointed out in my essay, visuals helped me think and communicate. I drew a graph that divided my essays into six parts, and we discussed and moved around those blocks to make the logic flow smoothly. And it worked pretty well.

Using Dan Roam’s terminology, I am a visual thinker, yet just a “Yellow Pen”. I employ visuals and imagination to process the information, like reading or writing, but I am far far away from an artist. As a result, I depend heavily on words even when I am making a graph or illustration. I really enjoy the class readings so far and look forward to the following assignments that require more visuals and creativity.