“To have a great idea, have alot of them”

– Thomas Edison (February 11th 1847 – October 18th 1931)

Brainstorming is a commonly utilised, important tool for generating a variety of ideas focussed around a core topic. In order to engage with the given brief for the practical aspect of the design course I undertook a brainstorming exercise. I believe I instinctively use brainstorming as an initial method of idea generation when embarking upon a task as throughout my education it has been actively encouraged. From an early age children are urged to utilise brainstorming techniques to trigger a wide range of cerebral function.

Definition: to suggest a lot of ideas for a future activity very quickly before considering some of them more carefully 1

I find brainstorming an effective method to relax and access my mind, allowing rapid exploration through a variety of options, primarily within a creative context. A successful brainstorm will significantly increase productivity as it removes avenues of investigation unlikely to bear merit early without necessarily following a linear thought path, allowing the progression required for submission.

A deeper investigation into the theory behind the method supported my initial reasoning behind utilising the brainstorm method;

“The brain works by making patterns, and this process can be visualized through a medium called visual tools”

– David Hyerle, 1996. 2

 Brainstorming is one of these visual tools, allowing us to access and understand thought processes prior to utilising them. During my brainstorming exercises I also consulted a visual thesaurus. The Visual Thesaurus is intended to assist brainstorming with loosely connected images to one of the 250 key words.

Goveia, C., 2003. Visual Thesaurus: A Quick Flip Brainstorming Tool for Graphic Designers. Massachusetts: Rockport Publishers.

Phil Scott takes brainstorming further, arguing that brainstorming itself is an artform. 3 Scott raises an interesting point; is the creative method art or a means to achieve art?

Scott, P., 2011. The Art of Brainstorm. [electronic print] Available at: <http://wellingvisualarts.org/the-art-of-brainstorm.html&gt; [Accessed 29th Novemeber 2011].

Meanwhile The School of Visual Arts NYC is was actively encouraging brainstorming anywhere with its ‘Think’ campaign. Everyday items around the school were printed with college ruled paper. 4

Blaine, E., 2009. 37587_2_600. [electronic print] Available at: <http://www.trendhunter.com/trends/school-of-visual-arts-think-campaign#!/photos/37587/2> %5BAccessed 29th November 2011].

As demonstrated, it is accepted within the creative community that brainstorming is an appropriate method of idea generation, psychologists however  believe the performance of the individual can be hindered with subject  to pressure from either social situation or the individual themselves to succeed. Recently the term brainstorm came under scrutiny, believing to cause offence to the mentally ill and epileptic. 6

Following my brainstorming exercises I explored the word “geometry” and associated areas of interest. From this I was able to draw out key themes and consider pursuing them further.


1. Cambridge University Press, 2001. Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus. [online] Available at: <http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/brainstorm_1&gt; [Accessed 29th November 2011].

2. Hyerle, D., 1996. Visual Tools for Constructing Knowledge. Alexandria: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. p.96.

3. Phil Scott, 2011. The Art of Brainstorm. [online] Available at: <http://wellingvisualarts.org/the-art-of-brainstorm.html&gt; [Accessed 29th Novemeber 2011].

4. Blaine, E., 2009. College-Ruled Toilet Paper. [online] Available at: <http://www.trendhunter.com/trends/school-of-visual-arts-think-campaign#!/photos/37587/2&gt; [Accessed 29th November 2011].

5. Lamm, H. and Trommsdorff, G., 1973. Group versus individual performance on tasks requiring ideational proficiency (brainstorming): A review. European Journal of Social Psychology, December 1973, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp.361-388.

6. Allen, N., 2008. Council bans brainstorming. The Telegraph, [online] 20th June 2008. Available at: <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/2162568/Council-bans-brainstorming.html&gt; [Accessed 30th November 2011].