Curiosity & Relentless Observation | Carolyn Wiedeman | Skillshare

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Curiosity & Relentless Observation

teacher avatar Carolyn Wiedeman, Artist, Illustrator

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Observation to Unlock Innovation


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About This Class

This class is part of Skillshare's Creativity & Innovation series. We believe curiosity is a crucial skill for cultivating creativity since being curious will open your mind to new observations and insights you'd have otherwise missed.

In this short class, you'll learn to integrate observation through curiosity into your life everyday, unlocking innovative ideas and adventure. With 5 key exercises, you'll deconstruct perceptions and discover the story behind an everyday thing that usually goes unnoticed.

Meet Your Teacher

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Carolyn Wiedeman

Artist, Illustrator


Carolyn Wiedeman is an artist and illustrator based in Brooklyn. She is a professional freelance illustrator for a wide range of weddings, brands, and special events.

Previously, she was a creative education producer at Skillshare, creating exciting learning experiences for lifelong learners and partnering with hundreds of illustrators, creative agencies, and brand partners to create compelling online classes and creative video. Key partnerships included working with illustrators Olimpia Zagnoli, Roman Muradov, Jon Burgerman, Yuko Shimizu, Katie Rodgers, Julia Rothman, Ryan Putnam, Lisa Congdon, and more.

Carolyn has also worked as a graphic designer at and Global Prairie.

She is a graduate of the University of Michigan, where she studied Printmaking and Env... See full profile

Level: All Levels

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1. Trailer: This class on curiosity, is part of the creativity and innovation series on Skillshare. Curiosity is about inquisitive thinking, exploration, learning and observation. We value it as the main pillar of creativity, unlocking adventure, innovation and excitement in your creative process. This short class will set you up to be more aware observing thinker every day. I'll give you a set of useful exercises and curiosity, and with them you'll be challenged to question the design of something you use, see or do every day. In this curiosity observation process, you'll use these exercises to train yourself to easily observe things that usually go unnoticed. Curiosity is inquisitive thinking exploration, learning and observation. In order to be creative, you have to be curious. 2. Observation to Unlock Innovation: Curiosity is important because it defines problems worth solving and identifies them. We say at Skillshare that the future belongs to the curious, but really, so does the present, framing your mind so that you're aware and interested in what's going on around you immediately. That can be prevented by things such as routine, mold, and status quo. A high-level of curiosity is the hallmark of an inquiring mind, and it actually wards off boredom. This class is meant to train you to be curious, to see things differently, question perception and develop your attention, to not accept a certain right way of doing things. We want to help you deconstruct perceptions so that your ideas are informed by proper questioning, function, and pure innovation. You'll learn to be observant and aware. Some of the most creative thinkers have actually pointed to their relentless curiosity and observation as the most important part of the creative process, some of my favorite creative thinkers, especially. The writer, Henry James, said that, "A writer is someone on whom nothing is lost." Referring to gathering notes on constantly observing the curious. Joan Didion, one of my personal favorites, kept a notebook with her at all times. She wrote down observations about people and events as a way to better understand the complexities of her own mind. Joan said, "However dutifully we record what we see around us, the common denominator of all we see is always, transparently, shamelessly, the implacable 'I'." In her essay on keeping a notebook, Didion wrote, "We are talking about something private, about bits of the mind's string too short to use, an indiscriminate and erratic assemblage with the meaning only for its maker." Da Vinci often spoke of observation and curiosity as essential to his process, saying, "I roamed the countryside searching for answers to things I did not understand, why shells existed on the tops of mountains along with the imprints of coral and plants and seaweed that are usually found in the sea, why the thunder lasts a longer time than that which causes it, and why immediately on its creation the lightning becomes visible to the eye while thunder requires time to travel, how the various circles of water form around the spot which has been struck by a stone, and why a bird sustains itself in the air. These questions and other strange phenomena engage my thought throughout my life." We've developed five curiosity exercises to be used at any time on anything, to help you become more aware and more curious, because the content exists in the world, it's just about changing your frame of mind. This isn't a 12-step program but rather a set of tools that all work off of one another. These exercises are about asking why. With them, your challenge is to question the design of something that you do, see, or use every day. You're going to share an observation that surprised you in your curiosity. The first exercise is, start digging into what you know. The great thing about being curious is that you don't have to change your lifestyle, just your perception of it. Look at something you use every day as a great exercise to consider familiar things differently. Consider something you do every morning and spend time thinking about it. I'm thinking about my morning visit to the coffee shop Lepton and so on. I'm going to start digging into that by asking myself questions. How did coffee become such a standard morning ritual? Is that what everyone is ordering in this line? Where's this coffee coming from? Why do I choose to purchase and consume a drink to wake up instead of say, making it at home? Why is it a drink? What if it was a caffeinated rub? What is the value of the ritual of consuming coffee? I could go on and on. The point of this exercise is that you know more than you think and the questions to ask are right there in front of you and are completely endless. Just keep asking why. The second exercise is vary your content consumption. Force yourself into new contacts to prompt new questions. Expanding what you're familiar with will expand your curiosity. This feeds off of the previous exercise because the more you dig into what you know, the more you become interested in, and then the more you seek out and question new things. So, let's say, instead of going to Lepton in the morning, what if I went to a different coffee shop? Why do I always go to Lepton? Maybe there are different publications in a different coffee shop, or a new drink, or a new crew of patrons. What's the difference between one brewed coffee and the other? Will I notice the difference? Is the line shorter? What kind of value does waiting in a line bring to my day? Can it be made more efficient? The questions again are endless. New places give our brain fresh material to work with and make us question our existing experiences. The more familiar you are with the situation or you perceive you are with the situation, the more quickly you will experience it. The argument here is for varied experience, but more importantly, mindfulness around your new experiences. The third curiosity exercise is, approach a situation or an object as if it's your first time. Make your mind active instead of passive. The mind is actually a muscle that needs continuous exercise just like your body is. So, how do you do that? Well, let's say next time I go to Lepton, I'm going to pretend like I'm walking into that coffee shop for the first time and consider my awareness. What are the things that would pop into your mind? I remember seeing a lot of well-dressed interesting looking early risers in there, and being inspired by their clothes that they were wearing, what they were eating, what they were drinking, but now it's more of an everyday encounter. Am I more aware of the strong smell? Would I order the same thing? How do I know how and what to order there? Could the instructions have been more obvious? How does this taste make me feel? Has my habit of going to the same place infected a certain type of feeling every time I go in there? Why does it do that? Curiosity is asking why of everything. The fourth curiosity exercises trigger your awareness everyday. Ritualizing observation and curiosity for your brain is as important as ritualizing exercise, again. For this, you're going to ritualize an action or a question to ask yourself each morning, to bring yourself to a state of observation. So, when I go to the coffee shop, what if I engage in a conversation with the barista every morning, no fail, or watched how my coffee was being made as I waited instead of look at my phone? The point is to repeat the same out of ordinary action to train and trigger your brain into this observation mode and to remind yourself to keep a unique perspective on an everyday experience. Curiosity lies in that. The fifth and final exercise is improve upon anything. Observation and relentless curiosity bring ideas and improvements, no matter what. So, again, consider your everyday experience. What could you improve upon? What kind of value do you extract from the experience? What kind of value do I get from the coffee I consume? Is it the absolute most value I could possibly get out of the drink or the experience of going to Lepton? What value does it offer me when it's not in functional use? Questions of value are important ways to figure out how you could improve upon an experience for a thing. These exercises are supposed to get you to a destination that's exciting, inquisitive, and understanding of everything there is in the world to be curious about. If you pull these out throughout the day, they'll prime you to be more aware and see things differently. As I mentioned before, I want you to take these exercises and question the design of something you do see or use everyday. Keep asking why. Please write down one thing you observed that surprised you and share.