Last September, I had read and enjoyed his book, The Laws of Simplicity, and last November John was kind enough to review my Ball of Whacks in his blog. It was the first time I had met him. I was able to chat with him before his presentation and take this photo. You can see that he looks confident and ready-to-go! (John's lecture was part of the David Lu Memorial Series and was SRO.)
I was impressed with John's presentation: he was funny, entertaining, and full of insights about life, design, and the creative process.
Here are just a few notes of some of the topics he covered.
I never knew how tofu was made, but I do now! John's father ran a family-owned tofu making business in Seattle, and John gave a step-by-step description of what's involved. Fascinating stuff.
Mentors have played an important role in John's development as a designer and artist. He described working with three of them: Muriel Cooper, Paul Rand, and Ikko Tanaka. John made the point: "Great mentors, by their good example, teach humanness."
One of his main early points was: "Vacation is the key to life." The implication was that our thinking gets boxed in doing our day-to-day stuff, but in vacation we're free to explore and try a lot of different things.
He showed a slide comparing the size of his car and his camera. He then asked this puzzling question: "How come my car is so much larger than my camera, but my camera's manual is thicker than my car's manual. There's a lot of opportunity to simplify things there."
John showed slides from a number of his art works including his current exhibit which is running at the Riflemaker Gallery in London. The image (at left) is a "Fish" he made out of iPods. Click here to see a short video from this exhibit.
On where he turns for inspiration: "Museums are boring, the world is exciting." And he proceeded to show some fun examples of some amazingly simple things that are happening right outside our doors.
One thing, in particular, I found amusing: when he was a "little down," he scanned a bunch of French fries into his computer, and then created a fun art image called "Amber Waves of Grain." Playful and off-beat.
John's closing thought was: We live in a diverse world of creative people." And he shared his motto: "Think, Create, Educate, Enjoy." It was an evening well spent!