Visual Creativity Comes From Innovation
Since I read @yoamomonstruos's article on design innovation (and skeumorphism as a point of the discussion) I was meaning to show my opinion in a blog post.
1/2 - On skeumorphism
I agree that sometimes skeumorphism might help people understand but this is definitely not the future of interface metaphors.
On the topic of leather-like apps, I only now found this great post by Jon Gold called The Metaphors Breaking The Future that really says it all. So I'll leave to it if you never read it.
2/2 - On creativity
True creativity comes from a variety of factors. On top you'll find personal aspects that make each thing you create unique. But when it comes to visual design it's necessity and functional innovation that makes something trully new.
When touchscreen smartphones and tablets came along, interface designers had to adapt. New things had to be created for those devices and that influenced the web and operating desktop systems themselves. But unless you're working on something truly innovative or you have a unique personal style to follow you'll end up craving to create something a bit different.
I remember few things from Psychology classes but I recall the theory of Behaviorism that basically says that everything (or most of) what we are is a response to external inputs from our surroundings, making us more than just the DNA of our parents and more of a social animal. There's more interesting aspects to it if you care to explore Google for a bit.
As an college educator I believe that studying and educational success is all about getting the right inputs. Knowing the right influencers, reading the right books, talking to the right people. All of them will mold a student’s opinions, choices and, in the end, his creativity.
Now, if there are those who mimic others interfaces on Dribbble and those who lead creation this might have to do with chance and with the circumstances that each of them were exposed to. Most of us didn't had GUI design classes or similar.
And for those who lead the design industry and push it forward with their beautiful apps and interfaces they are truly great designers. Because they had the chance to transform the education they were given into an evolutional process that was made of the right components at the right time. They were able to understand that the base concepts they had learned, like typography and grid construction, were usable in this new context they had the opportunity to work with. And so, both their initial influences and the late chance to be pioneers allowed them to evolve into great interface designers.
The discussion with Thomas Bates on twitter ended with this notion that research on sites like Dribbble might not always be a good start. Why start with a particular style if it's not going to add anything else to the project? From now on I'll try to start all my projects with the least visual inspiration as possible and preferably with a white canvas.