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An explanation behind our Design Methodologies project

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You might have noticed that output from Sparkwood and 21 has been a little quiet of late. Not to worry, we’re working on a book about Design Methodologies.

We believe that having the right kind of design tools and creative methodologies can help with the quality of your creative output and we’re keen to put our money where our mouth is. So to speak.

We have been busy researching, developing and testing 21 different design methodologies and creative tools ready to be put into a book that will be available on our github page, through various digital ebook outlets and through us as a beautiful bound physical creation. All text and images contained within the document will also be licensed CC BY-SA because we believe in a sharing economy.

When each chapter has been completed it will also be put up on our Design Methodologies project page. As always, we welcome feedback through @sprkwd on Twitter.

The Atelier

An explanation behind The Atelier

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You might have noticed that one of our projects is called The Atelier. As you might know Atelier is French for the studio/workshop of an artist or artisan. We’re going to use The Atelier Project as our output for creating art prints using open source tools. 

It would be considered a success if Sparkwood and 21 could fund itself and so we’re looking at various ways to do this. One way is to generate a passive income by selling products and prints through our store.

Alongside our other projects we’ll be creating digital art prints using only open source tools. Tools like Inkscape, Krita, and Blender. These prints will be sold via society6.com (as well as a few other select online stores) who will manage the payment, print and posting of these prints.

There will also be limited edition runs of alternate versions, and special edition prints throughout the year and these will all be handled directly by sparkwoodand21.com itself. They will be printed locally, signed and numbered, and might come with a surprise or two.

We’re also expecting some of our projects to have outcomes that are products (like the creativity cards or the guitar tab books) and we will sell these through our store as well. These are more likely to be very short runs of bespoke and made-to-order products. We’ll probably re-develop the most popular products for mass production, but let’s not run before we can crawl.

This project will be ongoing and mostly explore the feasibility of using open source design software to create professional quality prints for sale to the public.

You should follow @sprkwd on Twitter to keep up to date with our latest products, prints and offers. Amongst other things.



source: flickr.com/photos/ter-burg/

What I’m trying to achieve with Sparkwood and 21

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I thought I’d write a quick post trying to explain why I have set up Sparkwood and 21 as an open source creative studio and what this means to me.

I’m really interested in open source philosophies. I like the camaraderie of the communities and the open collaboration. I like being able to have a direct effect on the development of products that I use. I like the idea of the freedom behind the licensing. I like the idea of supporting the underdog fighting picaresquely against the corporate giants. I like that the whole point of open source is being allowed to see (and modify) the code. In simple terms, with open source as a development model it allows access to a product’s plans / blueprints through using a permissive license.

I’ve wanted to set up a studio for a while and making it into an open source studio has given me a great excuse to do it. I’d like to see how these open source philosophies, ideas and tools can be transferred to a creative studio environment. I’m also hopeful in seeing if it is economically viable to run a studio and make a living in this way. It also exercises my product design skills that have grown fallow recently, as well as giving me the opportunity to give artistic direction to the whole endeavour. One cannot be a freelancer forever.

I’ve jotted down a few ideas on how I see this particular brand of open source design / open design working. I’m sure they’ll change in the future after experience and experimentation, but at least there’s a foundation to work from.

Open Process

I feel that a suitable equivalent metaphor for being allowed to see the code is being allowed to see the process of how something was designed. A while back I designed a chess set for people with visual difficulties and I “live blogged” the process as I created it over 10 days. It was a great (if stressful) learning experience for me and it still provides insights into how a product is designed for people.

I love reading about how people make, build, create their ideas and the processes they use and so I’m going to be showing insights into the creative process for some of the products and prints that I will hopefully be releasing through Sparkwood and 21. They say if you don’t know what you should do you should teach, and I believe this is a great way of being able to share what I know and have learned.

Open Licensing

With clear and easy to understand licensing, we know that other people will not be afraid to take aspects of our work and develop it themselves. Some licenses also allow the reselling of our work. This helps the development of ideas, emphasizes a sharing economy, helps promote the studio and gives other designers tools and content that they can build upon.

Open Tools

There are now a lot of open source tools and software. I intend to use these as much as possible. This is to help develop these products through use, bug hunting and writing tutorials. This also helps make people aware that these tools exist and can be viable alternatives to more restrictive products and tools.

So, that’s the plan for Sparkwood and 21. I feel that through a combination of creating products, prints and books; running workshops and teaching what I know; collaborating with other people over interesting projects and doing the occasional client work I can make Sparkwood and 21 a fairly successful enterprise.

I hope you hang around to see us grow. Thanks for you support.


New Amsterdam-based creative studio opens doors

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Sparkwood and 21 is a new creative studio based near Amsterdam that’s been set up by Duncan McKean, a designer originally from the UK. It is named after a location in 90s TV show Twin Peaks.

“There’s a great opportunity for a small and simple studio that can design, develop and manufacture short runs of products and prints for a consumer audience,” Duncan says. “We’ve got a whole load of ideas that we want to see the light of day and Sparkwood and 21 is the place to realise them.”

Duncan also says that part of the studio’s mission is to explore how open source ideas and philosophies can be transferred to a live studio environment in a way that makes it financially sustainable.

Contact our Creative Studio

Anybody interested in finding out more should get in touch via info@sparkwoodand21.com.