BFA Advertising and BFA Design Chair Richard Wilde and BFA Design and BFA Illustration faculty member Judith Wilde have co-written The Process: A New Foundation in Art and Design, which was recently published by Laurence King Publishing. Based on the Visual Literacy course at SVA, the Wildes have compiled 13 assignments intended to sharpen one’s creativity and visual vocabulary. Concurrently, an exhibition also entitled “The Process,” features students’ striking responses to these assignments and is on view at the SVA Gramercy Gallery, 209 East 23rd Street, through April 11. SVA Close Up caught up with Richard and Judith Wilde to uncover their own “process” in designing and writing the book.
Over the course of your teaching career, you must have developed numerous exercises. How did you narrow your choices down to these 13 for The Process?
RW: The truth of the matter is there were 20 assignments, but because of the limitation of 500 pages, we were forced to reduce the book accordingly. Since most of the problems have a common theme—of putting students into the unknown—in the big scheme of things it didn’t matter which problems appeared in the book. The good news is that we are almost ready to complete another edition of The Process with 13 more assignments. To date, Judith and I have created over 50 assignments.
JW: I enjoy seeing the results of each assignment and Richard and I both feel that there are visible signs of growth in terms of problem solving and risk taking as students proceed. So, it is easy to say that during the course of a semester, as students accomplish what we’ve set out for them, they often do their best work towards the end. Given the results of each project and the fact that each class exhibits different strengths and weaknesses, this dictates the order of how the assignments are given during a semester.
When you were students was there a textbook or series of exercises like The Process that helped/inspired you?
JW: For us, nothing existed, which is why we’ve spent our lives creating books, like The Process.
The observations on creativity before each exercise are wonderful, and somewhat reassuring. Do students often come to you when they are trying to get over a creative hurdle?
RW: All assignments are one-week projects, which is a demand unto itself. The formatted assignment sheets create a condition that helps students focus their attention and also functions as a point of departure, which makes the activity of problem solving more accessible. Also, the fact that there are always multiple problems to be solved maximizes student’s success. The aforementioned factors foster innovation.
RW: In effect, these assignments are perfect metaphors for what lies ahead in the real world. Oft times, the greater the limitations, the greater the success in solving the problem.
JW: In life, there are always limitations. One learns to solve visual communication problems by doing, more specifically, by exploring, pondering, experimenting with the problem in an effort to find one’s voice. There is a crucial balance that must be maintained concerning the communication value of a given problem, as well as satisfying one’s personal aesthetic. This is an ongoing struggle that The Process addresses.
How does it feel to see so much evocative work stem from these assignments?
JW & RW: Each time homework is handed in is an exhilarating experience, which nourishes the wish to continue doing what we love to do.