elemental alchemy, 2015
Publication, web, motion, photography, illustration, writing, whitecliffe
In order to be creative you have to be willing to relinquish control, to make mistakes and embrace what is uncertain, unsafe and uncomfortable. This year in my practice I have taken a leap into the unknown. Guided by the question “what if?” I have explored chance as a tool in the design process.
Anna Gerber describes this practice as getting out of your own way during the creative process. Many artists, designers, writers and musicians have developed systems as a way to encourage a ‘self-less’ creative process that allows for the unexpected (Gerber, 2004, p.14). Discussing his own design work Mitch Goldstein has said:
chance begets things you simply cannot plan for, outcomes you cannot expect… the poetics of chance helps me bring poetry into my design work, making it more emotive and engaging, less literal and predictable (Goldstein, 2011, pp.176–181).
My design experiments have focused on the four elements of earth, fire, water and air, which hold powerful symbolism within imaginative experience. I have used close observation, a focus on materiality and systematic processes to engage with chance and encourage unexpected, visually poetic outcomes.
My design processes are documented in the book Elemental Alchemy and the Art of Everyday Design — a parody of the Victorian instruction manual. With this book I endeavour, first to present a series of exercises and examples that introduce ‘Elemental Alchemy, or the Art of Everyday Design’; second to induce an activity of poetic imagination; third, to encourage the student to embrace experimentation in their own practice. To view a video of the book please visit
Elemental Alchemy or the Art of Everyday Design
The experimental outcomes or trials from my research, which include photography, illustration, video and typography are also presented on a website, which engages with chance in its design.
To view the web-page online please visit
Please note that for the purposes of the end of year assessment this web-page was designed and built for display on a large Apple Mac screen.