Play by your own rules with Jessica Walsh

by Lucie Bertiau
03 May 2016
5 min read
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Play by your own rules with Jessica Walsh

Taryn & I had the chance to attend a two hour workshop presented by the talented Jessica Walsh.

Credit photo -  Billy Blue


At 29, Jessica is the “IT Girl” of graphic design (Observer, 2014). Partner at Sagmeister & Walsh she's also famous for her provocative personal projects such as "40 days of dating" and more recently "12 kinds of kindness".

Although based in New York, Jessica came to Australia to give presentations and run workshops in Melbourne, Brisbane and here in Sydney.

The whole idea of the workshop we attended was to demonstrate the importance of constraints and rules and how they help the design process. Jessica said that at the beginning of her career, being given an open brief by a client sounded like a dream. However, due to Sagmeister&Walsh’s reputation, clients now come to her with open briefs and she’s quickly realised that "it's the worst possible scenario for a creative". She explained, that there are too many directions to explore and it's impossible to focus.

Jessica believes that by setting your own rules and constraints you can be far more creative and efficient.

The Workshop

Credit photo -  Billy Blue


At the start of the workshop Jessica asked us to quickly form a team of four. The brief was to represent a word of your choice and set your own constraints. As a constraint we had to pick a single material from a selection on a table to create our word. The options included; foil, paint, rubber-bands, play dough, crepe paper etc. We had roughly an hour and a half to come up with a word, play around with our material and create the letters.

Credit photo -  Billy Blue


Finally, we had to present our word in a photo or video format to the rest of the group.
Our group chose rubber-bands as our material constraint.

We then brainstormed words that related to rubber-bands. We agreed on the word ‘alive’. This constraint helped us to find our final idea, we literally brought the word to life…


The Workshop - Part 2

We thought it would be nice to share this experience with the rest of our team back at Adrenalin and introduce them to Jessica’s concept. We set up our own little workshop in the boardroom for the wider creative team, with the same instructions we had been given.

Here’s one example of what they came up with:

This workshop was a good reminder for us that we need to embrace constraints in our day-to-day jobs. Constraints force you to avoid the easy path and challenge you to think outside of the box.

On top of that, working in the digital industry, we don’t often get the chance to have a break from our screens and get our hands dirty. Playing with real materials was a fun experience and I encourage anyone to try this workshop with their team.

If you want to learn more about Jessica's work you can check out her Behance profile. You can see more photos from our workshop with Jessica on our Facebook page.

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