Graphic Designer / Researcher

Added on by Laila Cassim.

8 Methods for Creative Growth / 創造能力を開花する8つの方法

Working with artists with learning disabilities in Sheltered workshops, one question constantly arose – “ With the design partner a passive recipient of the final design results, to what degree should the designer edit and interpret their drawings?  8 Methods for Creative Growth is a methodology created to help unleash the creative talents that lay within a person regardless of their abilities to help improve their artistic skills and self development. By increasing the quality of the art, artwork needing little editing could be created. 

These methods allow:

  1. Better ownership of the work by the beneficiaries

  2. An enhanced understanding by staff of the design potential of art activities in sheltered workshops who do not have expert knowledge on art

The Art work could then be used as the basis for new income and their social empowerment enhanced through holding exhibitions outside of the sheltered workshop environment.







1.  Changing the size and material you work with / 画材とサイズを変える



Another artist with a learning disability liked to draw pictures of flowers on hard office paper with coloured pencils. Her weak pencil pressure made them difficult to see. Simply replacing the pencil with marker pens enabled her to see her own drawings, which soon came to life. Simple changes such as these can bring out and expand hidden talent.

Understanding the potential of a drawing beyond its initial presentation is crucial. One autistic artist drew small thumb-sized drawings of the food he liked.  His lines were extremely precise and intricate and an indication of the artist’s high visual memory since he could directly transcribe the images in his head or what he observed. I replaced his pencil with a pen of the same thickness and photographs of food and paper cut to the same size were provided as a guide. Accordingly, his drawings became bolder and dynamic. 


2. Converting movement into art  /  動き・行動をアートに転換する


Art classes are not classified as work within Himawari-en with participants free to do as they please. This includes not drawing or painting. One artist with severe Downs' Syndrome used to wrap tissue around his finger and tap it back and forth for pleasure. By substituting a pre-inked brush for the tissue, the artist quickly started to create vibrant abstract colour paintings. The small movements beneficiaries make and the sensations they enjoy like can become vital clues and triggers to develop their potential.


3. Making Templates / テンプレートをつくる


Colouring books are popular in the art classes, since many beneficiaries choose not to draw or do not know how to do so. The colouring books provided are aimed at 4 to 5 year olds with many animal oranimation motifs. This underscores the notion that the adult beneficiaries are child-like. More so, theirdynamic mark-making, patterns and colour combinations are lost within the complex fixed outlines ofcolouring books. Providing stripped back templates with simple motifs and primary shapes that could be coloured in enabled their bold marks to come to life.


4. Create New Tools /新しい造形道具をつくる


Many beneficiaries get pleasure from the sensation of drawing. Thus, it is important to provide them with new sensations to stimulate ideas.  One artist likes to tap a paintbrush on paper but gets bored and stops after a while. A chopstick 'sponge brush' provided the artist with a new sensation and pleasure. The brush can be made from readily available materials, which sparked the interest of the staff in creating new tools and methods.


5. Give Encouraging Words / 言葉でサポートし自立した決断能力をつける


Simply guiding the artist through the creative process with words of encouragement can promote creative growth. Many beneficiaries with high communication skills find it especially hard to make creative decisions about how to draw something or what colour to use. There is no right or wrong in art. Providing a choice of primary colours, or praising work when asked if it is drawn correctly can build confidence. Such supportive words encourage creative growth and enable the artist to become confident in making their own decisions.


6. Select Good Quality Materials to Work From /創造能力の開花または発展をもたらす的確な題材選び


Allowing artists to create in ways they like is crucial.  However, for those with severe autism who prefer strict daily routines, carrying out repetitive actions can hinder their development and cause them to withdraw within themselves. One beneficiary would always draw the same face, over and over again. Cute as they were, they lacked character. One day he drew a symbol with the words 'Thank you ' in it for a student-intern who was leaving. This stamp showcased Mr. N's interest and talent for drawing graphic lines and shapes in all forms. We provided him with a wide range of material sources including font tables, packaging and Ukiyoe prints and the artist now creates a wide range of drawings


7. Understand the true meaning behind an Art Work / 作品の真の意味を読み取る




Each artist has their own unique style and approach to creating art. Once they decide on something, it is difficult to convince them otherwise.  Observing and understanding the meaning and reasons behind what they draw is key. One beneficiary draws vibrant and eye-catching abstract drawings. Although various methods were tried to encourage him to expand his creative range, he was never enthusiastic. When examined more closely it became clear that his drawings included outlines of buildings and the names of his friends and staff from the workshop. These drawings were his way of recording his memory and expressing feelings and thoughts since he cannot speak.  Sometimes, it is best to let someone be and not force change.


8. グリッドの活用 –  自発的なドローイングの後押し


As with the creation of templates, using grids can be a good way to initiate independent drawing skills. By creating various shapes on gridded paper over a few weeks, the beneficiaries started to understand constructions of shapes and space. Slowly converting these shapes into drawings of buildings or other things by simply adding a rectangle in a cube, the beneficiaries started to become more confident in creating their own original drawings.