April 9, 2015

Curate your own Museum of Ideas

Mariano Suarez-Battan

Co-founder & CEO at MURAL. Putting imagination to work. Endeavor Entrepreneur from Argentina. Working remotely from the Bay Area. Past life in video games, now bringing fun to enterprise SaaS.

The benefits of keeping a sketchbook of ideas are multiple. There’s even a pretty good article that mentions the emotional and creative benefits of keeping one.

I personally like to keep inspiration and ideas in a visual way. I guess it’s how my memory remembers the best and also how I’m able to express better.

One of my problems with keeping a sketchbook is that I not only sketch in a sketchbook, I also do it in an iPad, and on random sheets of paper.

Another problem is that I also save a lot of media from the Web as inspiration for the future. And let’s not count the number of screenshots I also have in my camera roll (I’m not alone here, in the March 2015 Wired magazine there’s an article on the subject and apparently Evernote users store 45 more screenshots this year than last one).

So a sketchbook isn’t enough. Even when I put everything into Evernote via Skitch, I’m sloppy when it comes to tagging and organizing all of the media I’ve collected. I needed something that would take me beyond collecting and searching for something specific and that would help me with organization (again, I’m very visual) and the re-discovery of my older stuff.

As an entrepreneur and “product shaper” I run into new ideas all the time, but sometimes they are not relevant at that moment in execution, or are a piece of a bigger idea. I like to map my brain in a visual way to remember and also to make sense of the new project, company, system or feature that I want to design and build.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one here, so here’s a proposal.

An Exhibit for Myself

I love the MoMA in New York and regularly visit it for inspiration. Every time I enter one of their massive rooms, I travel into a new space in my head and that awes me.

I dig awe. I crave it.. But I can’t go to the MoMA all the time,  and I don’t have a lot of space to create my own Museum. So, how do I  get inspired by the stuff that I create or curate?

Enter the marvelous digital world of MURAL, of course.

I have a personal room in MRUAL where I create my very own Idea Exhibits.

Sometimes it’s a work related topic, sometimes it’s just limitless exploration of something that may never even happen. It’s a form of Sketchbooking I guess, but with multiple elements and not limited by page size or page order. Well, it’s like a wall of an exhibit in a museum.

The collections of stuff in the Exhibits, the symphony of visuals, help me imagine a world that is yet to be.

Why do I find this Important?

To imagine is to visualize ideas

Imagination is defined as the faculty or action of forming new ideas, images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses.

Whenever I start forming an idea, my energy level grows as I fill out the details and I feel my idea begin to become a reality I collect a lot of related of related or analogous ideas and combine them with my own sketches to provide a holistic view of my  idea.

Calm the creative beast.

I have plenty of ideas and want to make them all come to life… but I understand the need to filter based on viability, feasibility and desirability. Good ideas never die, but they can be forgotten, so I like to keep them for a future review, and probably update and upgrade the idea with whatever is in my mind at that point in time.

This helps me get rid of my anxiety by knowing that whenever the moment comes to execute the idea, I have a place to go back to get started right away.

Find patterns

One thing that I don’t like about sketchbooks is that your ideas end up in a sequence that might or might not make sense. I like to think that a lot of my ideas are related, and I like to array all of the different pieces of an idea into a canvas and make them malleable to see how to better combine each other.

The freedom of a digital medium is great. You can start by adding material and then organize what's related and connect the gaps that need to be filled with a missing “piece” of the main idea. You can also move what’s important to another section, and purge ideas that don’t fit in the big picture.

Related: watch the video below. It’s great:

Allows the idea to get settled… and then evolve

The difference between a personal museum and a public one is that you can alter it willingly without having to give explanations to anyone. What was good yesterday might not be so great today… so change it. Change it until you feel it’s something worth pursuing, then share it with others to make it better and try it out.

But until then, let it sit in your Personal Museum… I found that sharing half baked ideas is hard and people need to get their brains ready to digest something in development without criticizing.

Share visually to generate movement

My Exhibits are for myself.. and most of the time they are never “done.” But in some cases, I think my exhibits are worth sharing.

Take some time to think like a tour guide. The brain is complex, so make sure that in addition to the map of content, there is a story that helps people go through the masterpiece you’ve put together.

Get Your Own Space

MURAL is designed to support creative team work. Here, I am encouraging you to try to make your own room with murals of your own personal ideas. You can decide later if you want to invite someone to your exhibit and get them inside your head.

If you don’t already have it, create a private (hidden) room in your account and make it your own personal palace.

Here are some ideas for Exhibits:

  • Visuals of elements from your childhood years that generate nostalgia
  • Physical product “interfaces” that can bring inspiration to a digital UI
  • Great onboarding experiences
  • Things that make you think
  • Animated GIFs of great animations
  • Products you wish you could afford to have
  • The “Pinky and the Brain” plan to take over the Earth
  • People having trouble interacting with a product or service
  • Funniest handmade signs in the wild
  • Typefaces that remind you of something else

Just start dragging and pasting content from all your sources into a mural. I also like to pick up the iPad app and sketch stuff and move stuff around with my fingers. It’s also nicer to zoom into the details and out to see the big picture.

Want to share exhibits with others? Send over the shareable links to us on Twitter @mural. We might help you find some visitors and folks that can complete that exhibit with you.