14. Trial #6 - Matthew Evans

...and before I knew it I was at the 6th public trial for Making Sense. Allow me to Introduce the next participant - Matthew Evans. (a.k.a SnowSkull)

I've been a big fan of SnowSkull's work for many years, and to be quite frank it was a massive honor to hear that he was keen to test out Making Sense around his practice as a Fine Artist. One of the Goldsmiths clan - SnowSkull is an intuitive, self-taught Artist, focusing primarily on contemporary abstract painting, but with a growing portfolio of video, music, and mixed-media collaborations. As a visual Artist, SnowSkulls work takes the form of rich, textured tapestries, characterised by bold colours and fluid forms set against stark atmospheric backgrounds. Conceptually, his paintings’ explore dreams, dream-states, and the vivid, hyper-real aesthetics of the space between wakefulness and sleep.

Having previously collaborated on a range of musical projects before focusing on the visual medium, SnowSkull’s personal and artistic roots in writing and performing music now bear fruit in his role as Creative Director of Sleep/Walk/Listen. His artwork has adorned a wide array of digital and vinyl releases from emerging musicians and producers across the Globe. It was in 2011 he made the decision to take the leap from his musical background and focus more on his artistic prowess. Through his knowledge of poetry, philosophy, and music and of his multifaceted experiences of life, he matured into the Artist he has become today.

‘SnowSkull’ takes inspiration from the renowned artist’s individual interpretations of art. ‘Pablo Picasso’s imagination and creative power, the vibrant colours of Cy Twombly, composition and ethics of Jean Michel Basquiat, Robert Rauschenberg’s abstract textures and the forward-thinking of Adrian Ghenie.

The name ‘SnowSkull’ was derived from a poem by one of his favorite poets Gregory Corso entitled ‘Death’. He portrays the contrast between the purity of the snow and the macabre definition of the skull, showing the light (life) and darkness (death) In his work. It's interesting that people’s perceptions of the skull are usually negative and related to death. Whereas SnowSkull believes that we carry our skulls in everyday life as protection for our brains – where our imagination and creativity originate. Popular amongst artists in the music industry, SnowSkull has produced artwork for many albums including. Snowpoet, Chris Hyson, much of the back catalog of Bodhi's back catalog...

...and even Funeral For a Friend's Conduit album, back in 2012. Of which he has a personal connection with, having been one of the bands founding vocalist right at the beginning of the band's history!

Once again thanks to some social media outreach, Matthew Evans responded with his interest to test out Making Sense.

...and would you believe it Matt was utilising this chance to test Making Sense to ideate around a new brief he had received, to develop album artwork for C I T I E S.

So sitting down with the cards during part 1, he jumped straight into the 'free-for-all' exploration with the cards. And boy has he been busy...

The ideas that Matt produced using these cards was really lovely. For an artist who works intuitively and impulsively, his response to the cards throughout both parts of his trial was straight forward and simple, and he stated that they had been very useful to him during this stage. But there was one big overriding theme. Throughout both parts of the trial he couldn't shake the feeling he "wasn't doing it correctly":

"I found it easier to work towards this pattern you gave me! In Part 1 I was "ad-libbing" to an extent and although I found it fun, I didn't know if I was doing the right or wrong thing. However, this feeling still remained during part 2 somewhat. Which is why I rated my experience with them during part 2, as an 8." - Matthew Evans

Hell, I'll take an 8! But Matt really made it clear how important it was for there to be more information in The Prism Framework. ...and as each week, and each trial that passes, this is a trend that had relentlessness reared its head. Only I'd say this time it was even more so the case than for past participants, which actually blew my mind to be honest... and here's why: Matt is a self-described intuitive and impulsive creative; therefore its in his bones that he assimilates concepts and systems of creativity. Matt's profile is actually the profile I was most concerned about alienating by providing The Prism Framework around these cards - I saw it as a potential enclosure on the creative spirit. Yet one of the most traditionally creative spirits was sat with my cards, asking for more detail to that framework. ...and the realities around this really hit home when he had this to say:

"My conflicting thoughts always took me back to the guidance, where you state that the cards are used to help lighten the load when it comes to organised thinking and creative strategy." - Matthew Evans

I am indeed trying to lighten the load! I cannot forget that. I was fearful that too much instruction would limit the creativity WITH the cards, but that's not the kind of creativity the card users want freedom with, its the creativity AROUND the cards that's important, and providing a solid effective framework for using the cards absolutely paves the way for it to become a powerful toolkit in enabling that. I guess that's that then. It honestly and truly simply isn't an issue. DELIVER MORE ON THE PRISM FRAMEWORK! Deliver more on my own system behind Making Sense. Next, when Matt was asked what the most valuable card was for him, he said:

"Either 'what is your biggest strength?' or 'what is your biggest weakness?' because when you consider these two they instantly make you understand what your boundaries are." - Matthew Evans

...and then when asked what the least valuable card was to him:

"There were a few of them that didn't relate to my practice or brief mainly themes like 'Olfactory,' 'Temperature' but I understand you're just covering all bases for all types of creative practices." - Matthew Evans

Now, this was a fascinating comment to me. As for the [OLFACTORY] modality card, I can totally see that being the case for Matt (as his practice stands... I'm meeting practitioners where they are, then taking them somewhere new). But for a fine artist to have said that he felt the [TEMPERATURE] card wasn't relevant to his practice took me very much by surprise. Let me make my analysis of this super clear though! I DO NOT see that a failing on his part, but on mine. The cards, in this case Translating Terminology category, need to do a better job at communicating their purpose and what they're signposting - i.e. ingredients that are relevant to the outputs of ALL creative practices. This definitely chimes with the comment Sarah made at the end of 2nd trial in this participatory design process- that the cards could somehow link to some informative digital resources and reference points to educate you on the relevance of the modular ingredients across the spectrum cards (with this I'm starting to eyeball up that 'pinned' augmented reality concept again I must say)

Lastly - there's actually a little bonus component to this trial. On asking to try the cards, Matt had asked for my advice regarding a new project he was looking to explore in exchange. Before sending the cards off in the post to him for his trial, I actually managed to send him a bunch of creative concepts and workflow formulas, that I had very quickly put together - using Making Sense. ...and on revealing this to him AFTER his trial with the cards, the picture of what Making Sense is able to support became even clearer: