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New book explores creativity through words

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Rand Elliott, the principal and founder of Elliott + Associates Architects, has won awards at every possible level in his field. This year, he’ll release his first book, and it is a project that has been on his mind since he was 16 years old.

“I started writing poetry when I was 16,” Elliott said. “I have always had a curiosity about words, about how they go together.” Specifically, Elliott has been fascinated with the relationship between words and inspiration or creativity.

“I am curious about people’s creative practices,” he said, “especially how they solve problems. I think creative people want to know that.”

Early in his life, Elliott started writing words, phrases and lines that were meaningful to him. That practice led to him composing poetry throughout his life. As a young man, he tended to write longer pieces, sometimes 40-50 lines, but as he has gotten older, he uses fewer words to convey his “word paintings.”

His book, Word Paintings, is published by ORO Editions, an award-winning, international publisher specializing in art and architecture. The project is a collection of Elliott’s poetry and pictures of his projects. Poems and photos are on facing pages so the reader can see the “architectural portrait” that emerged from Elliott’s description.

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After consulting with a client, Elliott will have answers to the questions of client goals and the purposes of a project. At that point, he begins to search out the spirit or personality of the facility or project, one that is consistent with what is the best fit for the client. That fit is the architectural portrait that emerges. Elliott then combines his description with the architectural portrait to make a single concept and move the project forward.

This analysis of creative process is what generated the idea for the book. Elliott believed that his desire to get at the root of his own creative process, as well as his fascination with the creative process of others, could lead to a community-wide intellectual conversation about the nature of inspiration.

BOB SHIMER
  • Bob Shimer

Elliott hopes the book serves as more than a conversation starter, though. Word Paintings might not be the method for all creative types, but it is an exercise that creative types can use, and at its core, it is similar to spiritual concepts in many religions — the idea of epiphany or “suchness,” to use a Buddhist term.

At his upcoming book signing at Full Circle Bookstore, 1900 Northwest Expressway, Elliott said he does not want to just sit and sign books, as that would be contrary to the spirit of his book.

Print headline: Carriers of creativity, Local architect Rand Elliott celebrates his first book.

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