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A deep-dive into your own creative footprint

Hi! This is one of the early Information Design projects I crafted. Precisely speaking, during the first year at my Masters course here at National Institute of Design (Bengaluru campus)…(currently, I’m in my second year of college). Jumping right into the project now :


The holy grail FLOW book and my tiny ‘note’book


Personal side-note: It started with me reading the book called ‘FLOW’ in our campus library, couple of months prior to the course’s onset.

FLOW is a national bestseller written by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who is a professor at Claremont Graduate University and former chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago. His previous book was ‘The Evolving Self’.


Though it wasn’t a research-led project, but more focused on how we convert a (statistical? More towards Quant, than Qual)data into a visual representation, I still went ahead with the primary research.

Two reasons:

1- To get a reality check from the real people. Because it is always a great hack to know if your work has some sense of relevance, say at the onset of your project or if it can have some impact or has a possibility of creating an impact in the near future. Even if your audience can’t really imagine the new concept, and one might get discouraged, one usually tends to come back with added insights that can help

2- To get the DATA. Yes, data. And that too qualitative data. Quantitative data would’ve been a smoother ride, but then I always had this pain-prick around the fact that why qualitative data is conveniently sidelined in the mainstream data-design or is not acknowledged much.

Thankfully, we did get introduced to Giorgia Lupi and her work. And that was a ray of hope, must say!

Coming back, so yes, collection of data, happened via one-on-one interviews with about 30 participants, via an open-ended questionnaire to understand what their state of FLOWs are and what are their rituals surrounding it etc. and many more parameters of determining FLOW as prescribed in the book.


FLOW activity of every individual was carefully mapped to the categories as mentioned in the book FLOW. The categories, basically, breakdown the concept of FLOW and reveal

  • all possible reasons why a FLOW activity is induced or
  • all possible ways via which FLOW activity can be induced or
  • segregate varied possible FLOW activities in certain chunks, like FLOW of Body, eg. Swimming for Nationals?. FLOW of Mind, eg. Solving an IQ-puzzling equation? so on and so forth. And yes, a certain FLOW activity can belong to multiple categories


Post the data collection and reading the book FLOW around 10 times in its entirety, finally I was able to effectively categorise the FLOW of varied participants, their possible reasons of doing so.

Eventually all the answers were circling around these parameters (in congruence with the concepts as mentioned in the book, of-course) as below:

1- Personality type preference during that activity (As much as we have predominant personality preference, during FLOW activities, it also depends on the nature of the activity, whether would you prefer being more introverted or extroverted. Though ofcourse, for most FLOW activities, majority of the people lean more towards introversion)

2- Is the activity more heart led or logic driven or both?

3- Allows physical stimulation or internal intellectual stimulation more?

4- Is individual work preferred or group?

5- That activity triggers which aspect : being a creator or a consumer?

6- What’s the most suited environment?

7- What’s one mood while performing that activity?

8- What tools aid that zone? Say, coffee? a particular corner in the house? a certain kind of aroma? Going for a swim, before engaging with that task?

9- Personal preferences, say old-school, smooth-paced ways of doing it or quick, snappy, gadget-geek ways?

Ofcourse, further parameters could be derived from the book. For now, I drew my line here, having figured out these 9 parameters.


and so was the concept of ‘FLOWGRAM’

Say hello to ‘3x3’.

‘3x3’ pixel-grid is the unit of this visualisation. But in its individual capacity, it is a (visual) representation of the above mentioned 9 parameters, of every individual. A creative code or anagram of your FLOW activity. Ever heard of one like this before? Well, I didn’t. So, I made one.

And it helps in finding a common thread when analysing everyone’s FLOW state of mind. I agree, this method ain’t the most scientific method to analyse one’s very deep FLOW activities, but I do believe it is a good start, for a very intricate qualitative data-set. And ofcourse, I am working alongside to add more parameters to this so as to make this ‘creative code’ all the more truer to its owner.


So, here is the final A0 visualisation of the creative codes of about 28 participants here.

Putting together ‘3x3’s of all these 28 participants, did lead to some interesting insights, which are mentioned on the right side.

I agree, this visualisation is a FLOW in its own-self. A participant would need to slow down and breathe and then decode it like that puzzle on your Sunday newspaper. It ain’t that snappy, can-be-gauged-instantly variety of visualisation. Well, didn’t 2020 teach us to slow down and reflect on our own inner-self more, anyway? And now, here is a tool for that.

P.S. Thanks for your time! Do comment or clap if this brought a smile to your face and lightened your day.

Information Designer I UX Designer I Industrial Designer