A Kaleidoscope of Emotion

A kaleidoscope has always reminded me of our Emotional Intelligence (EI). As a kaleidoscope operates on the principle of multiple colour reflections, so do our emotions. As creative individuals; be it designers, art directors, copywriters, film-makers, directors or animators, we allow our work to reflect what we feel. However, it is not always that simple. The colours immersed in the kaleidoscope reflect our emotions and we have to portray the right emotion by using the correct shapes and colours in the kaleidoscope in order to create the idea which sells the product and meets the client’s needs.

We are an agency of storytellers, people with their own unique Kaleidoscopes twisting and contorting them to form stories that make you feel something remarkable. They make you feel something you have never felt before and in turn, you become connected to this story and the story becomes a part of you, a part of who you want to be and it shapes the way you see the world. In order to create these stories, we have to use what we feel to fabricate our works of art. As humans we all feel – it is a part of who we are – but the trick comes into making people feel exactly what you want them to feel using imagery, typography, good design skills and most importantly EI.

Linking emotions and intelligence were relatively novel when it was first introduced 27 years ago. It was defined by Salovey and Mayer (1990) as “the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions”. Goleman (1995) describes in the book, Emotional Intelligence: Why it can Matter More than IQ that emotional intelligence is both an answer to the violence plaguing our schools and ‘as powerful and at times more powerful than IQ’ in predicting success in life. We as creative beings exercise our EI on a daily basis and we have to capture the correct mood and portray this emotion that we want others to feel as deeply as we do, without shoving it down the consumer’s throat. A majority of the best ideas are born from the creative individual feeling deeply about an issue and then using imagination to innovate an authentic idea which can express a concept that opens the platform where the creative invites the public to experience this emotion.

Alice Boyes, PhD, a former clinical psychologist turned writer, describes how emotions can alter your creative output and how not all emotions are conducive to creativity. Feeling anxious, uneasy, tense, or fearful is associated with decreased creativity. In a survival sense, negative emotions like fear are designed to make us focus narrowly on a threat (e.g. is that a snake making the grass move?) therefore the left side of our brain responsible for logical thinking would be dominant as we would need to be logical to remove ourselves from that threat. Positive emotions like feeling happy or upbeat are designed to make us want to explore, try new things, learn new information and build relationships with other people. Positive emotions signal to us that the current environment is safe enough to use our kaleidoscopes to produce emotionally evoking content. This allows us to think creatively as we are assessing our environment and allowing our senses to take in all our surroundings.

There are a few things we can do to make ourselves more emotionally perceptive, and in turn, creative:

1. Surround yourself with books, people, objects, places and animals that inspire you and make you feel colourful, allowing you to add more shapes and colours to your kaleidoscope that will allow you to portray a more interesting picture.

2. Learn to not get too emotionally attached to a piece of work. You may love it but it may not answer what the client has asked of you – learn to control that side of your emotions.

3. Allow yourself to take in new ideas and give others the chance to turn your kaleidoscope. As the Dali Lama says “when you talk you are only repeating what you know, but when you listen you learn something new.”  Allow yourself to be challenged: new ideas create new neurological pathways in your brain allowing you to see and feel things in a different way.

4. Stay emotionally in-tune to your surroundings. By being perceptive to what is happening around you and to what the client is secretly asking of you without even knowing it, you’ll find the answer to a very vague brief or a solution. Read the room.

5. Lastly, don’t be afraid to hang your emotions on the line. The best works of art were created by sheer emotion and a good example is Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”. He was so inspired by the light that planet Venus was emitting through his asylum window that he decided to paint, and in doing so inspired others with his work.

As a Kaleidoscope gives a different outcome at every turn so do our emotions, and there is no exact formula to get exactly what we want or to get your emotions to tell the correct story. We have to learn how to hone our skills and learn what works best for us. All we can do is add to our library of shapes and colours to make sure we depict a picture worth seeing.

Tanya Das Neves is a Designer at Fort.