Making Masterpieces With Hanoch Piven (And His App!)

Our feature this week is written by Hanoch Piven, the Israeli artist and illustrator who is recognized globally through his award winning art, children’s books, and creative workshops. In collaboration with the iPhone app publishing house iMagine Machine, Hanoch’s work was the inspiration for the app called Faces iMake. Hanoch advocates the point of view of using the right side of the brain (as Dan Pink describes in his book – A Whole New Mind) for encouraging creativity, and shares with us the philosophy of his work and the story behind making the app. Thank you Hanoch and iMagine Machine for inspiring the artist within all of us!

Faces iMake is an art-making iPhone app based on my way of creating collages with existing objects. I would like to describe this method of creating and how together with iMagine Machine we made it into an App.

Preschool children enjoy drawing. They are proud of their creations and are used to being praised for them. Even as they reach primary school they are still drawing without much self consciousness. But as they advance through their school years (usually somewhere between third and fourth grade), they start to doubt their drawing capabilities. Their creatures just don’t ‘look right’ to them. They are not getting the praise they were getting earlier.

At this point only a few children will persevere and continue drawing, while most will gradually stop drawing and say to themselves: “I just can’t draw”. This line will accompany the child all the way to adulthood. Drawing will be associated with that frustrating memory. What the child probably did not do well was drawing realistically. They did not have the classical drawing technique. But there are other ways and styles of drawing.

Usually we draw by making a line on a surface with a pencil, a brush, or our finger (if we are on the iPhone). But we can also draw by moving objects on the surface. We treat the objects not only as what their name dictates, but also as shapes. Instead of making lines and shapes, we make choices from a pool of existing shapes about which ones to use and how to use them. The objects are our building blocks, and by moving them around we are actually ‘creating shapes’ on the surface. We are drawing…with objects. So let us indeed expand the definition of drawing and call it “Drawing with Objects”.

Because this is a new and playful way of looking at the world around us, people can enter it without the frustration usually associated with ‘drawing’, and will allow themselves to be creative again. Furthermore, perceiving objects by their shapes is looking at the world through the right side of our brain: intuitively. In simpler words it is looking at the world with fresh eyes, playfully and creatively.

My own road of becoming an illustrator followed a similar path: I wanted to draw realistically. I wasn’t very good at it and was frustrated by my technical limitations. I discovered (by chance) the possibility of making collages with objects. I embraced it with a newly found enthusiasm and much more creativity.

Eventually I realized that creating collages is accessible for everyone, and throughout the last 10 years it has been the basis for the Creative Workshops I conduct all around the world. This has been the guiding light for us in creating Faces iMake: to try to bring the feel of these workshops into the iPhone.

Faces iMake has lessons and inspirations of some very simple artwork created by me, and it has the space for the user to create their own creations. Trying to be as faithful as possible to the idea of creating with existing shapes and objects, we decided not to introduce the possibility to resize objects. What can be perceived (and is indeed a limitation) as a handicap is a push to be more creative, to find your way around this limitation. After all, you cannot re-size objects in the real world.

Faces iMake is thought of as a fun and creative tool. It is a game (in the wider definition of the term) of making creations. And every process of creation involves playfulness. Creativity and play are totally inseparable.

iMagine Machine is a developer and publishing house of innovative and cutting edge iPhone applications. Originally focused on children’s applications, iMagine Machine incorporates unique and intelligent programming to create and publish creative and entertaining applications for the iPhone platform. Copyright (C) 2010 iMagine Machine.

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