Picking Up A Paintbrush

As a product designer, my DNA is a strange double helix of engineering principles and artistic expression. I perpetually teeter for a good balance between the logical and the lovely. This past year, I came across a wonderful short book written by Winston Churchill called Painting as a Pastime.  For those seeking a little bit of inspiration, it is a quick must-read. Churchill picked up a paintbrush for the first time at the age of 40, and remarked,

“Painting a picture is like trying to fight a battle”. 

 This world-leader’s comment was a reflection of the world he knew all too well. He went on to describe painting technique almost as if the battle lines were drawn when the paint was squeezed out of the tube onto the palette.  Prime Minister Churchill – a man who basically ruled the free world for a time – went on to say how painting helped expand his thought processes by exercising parts of his brain that didn’t normally get a workout. I figure, if this practice made such a notable difference for a Nobel Prize-winning leader, surely it would make some kind of transformation in a product designer… Churchill’s curious explanations prompted me to pick up a paintbrush, reflect on the world around me, and commit to painting something new every month.

In taking up this new structured hobby, I have discovered a lot of things for myself. I highly suggest that anyone and everyone give it a try at some point in their life… hopefully sooner, rather than later.  For those in “non-creative fields”, let your creative self out to play. We all have one – some of us simply tried to leave those sides behind as we grew older, thinking it was child’s play.  For those in creative fields, let your artistic expression loose in this non-vocational exercise, giving you the freedom to create without a client waiting on the other end.

Whether you consider yourself artistic or not, you will soon discover there are major benefits that can be developed through painting. Following, are some of the biggest take-aways that emerged for me in this practice.

Paintings by David Yakos

5 personal benefits of painting:

  1. Peace of Mind: I have found that sitting down in front of a blank canvas and covering it with paint has become a retreat for my brain.  There is a freedom in simply creating a picture, and watching it take shape as paint is layered and pushed around a canvas.  Because of this benefit, many groups have employed art for the sake of mental health.
  2. New Eyes: Painting helps me notice fine details that I ignored in the past. It makes me look at faces – not as features with two eyes, a nose and mouth – but as countless facets with resting shades of light.  I now look at water not as a field of blue, but as an oscillating reflection of the world above.  Churchill said of this phenomenon, “A heightened sense of the observation of nature is one of the chief delights that have come to me through trying to paint.”
  3. Appreciation: I find myself watching online videos about the masters like Da Vinci and Rembrandt. I stop and look at art more, and even if I do not love the piece, I consider the amount of effort it must have taken, and ask questions like, “what were they trying to say with this piece?”.  One starts to notice the shifts in time and culture in pondering art.  I’ve tried painting some things I find really difficult, which has given me an even greater appreciation for the Masters.
  4. Growth: The practice of painting is making me a better designer and artist.  As I learn to place color, I dream up products with a deeper understanding of how light will rest on a fresh shape.  My hand-eye dexterity and artistic ability are slowly improving as I come closer and closer to being able to put what I imagine in my minds’ eye down on paper or canvas.
  5. Enjoyment: I find painting to be really, really, really fun! I have been able to make some new friends through the process by painting with others and sharing tips and discoveries with fellow artists.  Painting allows the imagination to run free in a 2D world of color. When all the color is placed where it’s intended, it is a rewarding moment. The monumental task has been accomplished, and you can proudly sign your name on the creation, step back and say, “done”.

It is important to be patient with yourself as you learn.  Have fun! Treat every new work as a learning experience for yourself, allowing for growth, fun, and discovery. If you want to be a more creative engineer, designer or _____________ (fill in the blank), I challenge you to take a moment, and put a little paint on canvas.

David Yakos is VP and Director of Creativity at Salient Technologies, Inc.

3D Printing Keynote Speaker

October 2014, David Yakos, VP and Director of Creativity at Salient  Technologies, Inc. addressed a roomful of technology professionals as the keynote speaker at the RJ Young “Power of 3D Printing” Conference in Nashville, TN. Yakos presented the ability of 3D printing to take risk out of product development through prototyping.


RJ Young Brings “The Power of 3D Printing” Exhibition and Award Winning Product Designer to Nashville

Southeast’s leading office technology provider brings “The Power of 3D Printing” Exhibition and Award Winning Product Designer David Yakos to audience in Nashville, Tennessee.

Nashville, Tennessee (PRWEB) October 16, 2014RJ Young 3D Printing 2014

Nearly 50 professionals from across the mid-state attended “The Power of 3D Printing”, an interactive 3D printing exhibition and guest lecture at the Omni Hotel, sponsored by the RJ Young Company. The event showcased 3D Systems printing technology and informed a wide-range of professionals, from architects to advertising agencies, of the competitive advantages that 3D printing offers and featured a lunch-time presentation by award-winning product designer David Yakos.

“Weapons to wheelchairs and dog toys to space exploration, all industries could use 3D printing technology,” Yakos said as he addressed the audience. He explained how 3D printing in product development allows you to “fail fast and fail cheap” to get more desirable products to market faster.

Read the rest of the story HERE

Igniting Budding Engineers & ThinkFun!

Reposted from the SmartPlay blog by ThinkFun President & Co-Founder, Bill Ritchie


 

Maker Studio Construction Sets: Igniting Budding Engineers

Maker Studio Gears Set

We’ve got some great new ThinkFun products and programs arriving this Spring 2015. I’m proud of them and I want to take the opportunity to describe them to you. The first one I’ll describe is our new Maker Studio Construction Sets.

Our Goals Going In

We usually seek out products that build on our mission to ignite minds and give kids an early advantage. In this case, we wanted to do several things.

  1. Stimulate interest in engineering and creativity
  2. Make a product that was open-ended—not just one-and-done building
  3. Add challenges on top of the builds—ask kids to make their contraption actually accomplish a task

For the Maker Studio sets, we teamed up with two awesome inventors, David Yakos and Parker Thomas; both of them are active in the Maker movement. In fact, on our YouTube Channel, we feature David’s “Pitch Video” to us because the vision was so clear and aligned.

What Is Maker Studio?

Each Maker Studio set consists of a set of parts and instructions for how to build machines using discarded household items like food boxes and plastic bottles. The parts are magical—they are a collection of wheels, gears, axles, connectors, rubber band motor and instructions that show players how to build four machines.. Step 1 is to make household items into moving contraptions. But there’s much more to it. You can create many things with the parts in each set by using different containers and different decorations. The real beauty of Maker Studio is the fact that it has challenges to make your project do something. Push an apple across a table. Lift a soup can from the floor. That’s why we all it Open-Ended.

Made by Bella

Made by Bella – Maker Studio Gears Set – Cable Car Challenge

It Would Have Flopped!

It’s funny… just a few years ago these products would certainly have flopped. How do you explain something that is “open-ended” on a store shelf?

But in a world of YouTube channels and social media, we have a whole new opportunity to present the Maker Studio imagination by showcasing the cool stuff that kids are already making, then inviting our audience to join in themselves and share their own designs and builds.

And to prove our point, we’d like to introduce Bella Yakos and her YouTube Channel, Made By Bella. Bella is the 7 yo daughter of one of the inventors. Take a look at some of Bella’s videos, and you’ll see why we think Maker Studio sets are going to set brains on fire!

This is new territory for us, we’re excited! We are seeing great interest from the Maker movement, STEM and STEAM advocates, and Girls in Engineering programs. It’s the beginning of a whole new category of products for us, products that let the players tell the story.

Here’s hoping that it works! I’ll keep you updated along the way.


You can follow along with Bill and the ThinkFun team HERE!

And click HERE for more about Maker Studio in the News

 

Maker Studio in the News

Maker Studio, Techlicious 2015

Maker Studio won the Techlicious Best of 2015 NY Toy Fair Award!

Maker’s Studio made quite the impression during it’s release at the 2015 New York Toy Fair this February, winning the Best of Toy Fair award from Techlicious, making numerous Top 10 Lists (listed below), and receiving glowing reviews for its take on open-end play.  Co-inventors David Yakos, of Salient Technologies, Inc., and maker Parker Thomas teamed up with toy and game producers, ThinkFun to create the open-play concept toy.  Three Maker Studio sets have been released: Propellers, Gear and Winches, and the included Engineering Challenge Cards encourage kids in problem solving and thinking outside the box.  Built by engineers for budding engineers, ThinkFun’s Maker Studio puts creativity back in play.

Check out some of the great reviews at these links:

 

April 14, 2015: No Monsters In My Bed Blog Review of Maker Studio

April 13, 2015: The House of Boys…And a Girl Blog Review of Maker Studio

April 13, 2015: Cummin’s Life Blog Review of Maker Studio

March 6, 2015: KBZK News Piece on Bozeman local, David Yakos & the invention of Maker Studio

February 20, 2015: Maker Studio named in the CNET “Most Amazing Stuff of Toy Fair 2015” list

February 19, 2015: Maker Studio named in GeekDad’s Top 10 of NY Toy Fair 2015

Techlicious Best of Toy Fair 2015 Award

Techlicious Best of Toy Fair 2015 Award

February 19, 2015: Makezine is all about Maker Studio promoting the make-movement

February 19, 2015: The Maker Studio pieces “feel great, fit together well, and demand open-ended play”, says Amy Kraft of Makeroni

February 18, 2015: Kidscreen ranks Maker Studio in their favoriate non-tech toys

February 18, 2015: DadDoes places Maker Studio on the “Good” end of his article, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Toy Fair 2015

February 16, 2015: Out of 150,000 products, Maker Studio is awarded Techlicious Best of Toy Fair 2015 List along with 7 others

February 11, 2015: Reuter’s Magazine lists ThinkFun’s Maker Studio as a great toy for kids who want to “build, do and explore!”

February 7, 2015: The Making of and Inspiration behind Maker Studio

If you’re into videos, check out the Made by Bella series – where Bella and her Friends work through the Engineering Challenges of Maker Studio

Made by Bella

Made by Bella – creating a Princess Carriage with Maker Studio

Get in touch!