Brainstorming Exercises

Adapted from this site

Remember that brainstorming is a trick to generate as many ideas as possible. We’re going for QUANTITY rather than quality at this point. No judging your ideas or those of others. Get every single idea out, no matter how silly, absurd, or stupid you might normally think it is.


“What if?”
The class will divide into brainstorming groups. Each group will come up with the most unique “what if” question and answer they can think of. (In other words, start with “what if” and finish with some unusual situation.) Here are some examples: What if people came to my artwork to sleep? What if my artwork involved a lottery in some way? What if my artwork was entirely made from hot dog buns? Groups then share their top 5 favorite scenarios with the class.

“Limited Resources”
We’ll select an object (example: a box of cereal). Everyone will write down as many ways to use the object in their work as they can in two minutes. Everyone share their answers with the class.

“What Would ____ Do?”
Students break into groups of three. We’ll name the parameters of an art project (example: you must create a work that forces the participants to perform). Then each group will be assigned a familiar artist from art history, fiction, or current events. Each group must determine how that person would solve the problem. For example, what if Joseph Beuys were to tackle the problem? What if the Ninja Turtles were to try it? Barbara Walters? Beyoncé? If you get stuck, start by considering what particular expertise the person would bring to the problem and what his or her objectives would be.

“Breaking the Rules”
Divide into small groups (4-6 students). Each group will make a list of ten unwritten rules that they seem to follow when creating artworks. Examples might be “I think about the materials I have at my disposal”, “I think about what I want the end result to be”, or “I think about what I want people to think about it”. Groups discuss why they follow these “rules” and what it would take to get them to break them.

“Compare It”
The class divides into brainstorming groups. Have each group develop as many clever or unusual analogies as they can related to the artwork parameters. For example: “Utopias are like dreams, we can dream whatever our imagination leads us to, but even the most unexpected dream is an omen that hides a desire…”, “Utopias are like clouds, which allow new ideas to fall like rain…”.