The idea of ‘swiping’ to help creativity is well known – no idea is a new idea right?! In fact, did you know that Picasso studied a painting by Diego Velazquez and painted 44 new works of art simply based on that 1? My point is everyone swipes!
Swiping isn’t stealing or plagiarism, it’s merely using what is already there for inspiration and to help you develop and guide your own ideas; a swipe file is a legitimate learning resource.
Build your own
The importance of a swipe file however is that it is made by you. It will only be effective if it is a collection of ideas, materials, resources, pictures, etc. that resonate with you and that you have commented on and considered elements of. Someone else’s swipe file is of little value.
A clear definition of a swipe file written by Christoper Penn is:
“the swipe file is a collection of files designed to help the user break through a creative block”
So a swipe file is designed to provide you with inspiration and a creativity boost, helping you see new connections and come up with lots of great ideas. And, if you use the right tools to create your swipe file it can be available anywhere, at any time.
It is not rocket science
Creating a swipe file is pretty simple, anytime you see something that engages you, catches you off guard, grabs your attention, you find interesting or glean inspiration from you simply take a picture, save the link or take a note down and add it to you file.
There are a number of simple tools you can use to create swipe files, our favourites include Google Docs and Pinterest.
Whatever tool you choose, before you start swiping create a folder/board system to organise your work/projects/thinking. To start with make it simple and small.
Creating the folders
A great way to start is to think about the challenges you face and you require ideas for – perhaps you want to create a new business brochure or a community or you are thinking of a photoshoot (but with a difference), use these as the folder names and then start searching for inspiration across the net and swipe to the correct folder as you go.
As you add content to your swipe file, also make sure you add your comments, opinions and thoughts, as well as the source. So when you look back later there is a reminder for you.
It is not theft!
You are not stealing the content – unless you copy one swipe exactly, rather you are simply gathering lots of great examples and ideas that you are analysing and reverse engineering what is already out there.
You look at how things interrelate, create new connections and come up with new ideas from a mixture of old ideas. It’s quite simple and it’s standard practice for idea creation.
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, no idea is a new idea… rather it’s a combination of old ideas to create a new idea.
Swipe for creativity
The idea of a swipe file is to enjoy it. Have fun in looking at what is already around you. Take away lessons from what you swipe. Look at things in different and unique ways. Question how and why things are the way they are and what would happen if you change them.
Explore and experiment, that’s what creativity is!