Autism Interview #159: Robbie Ierubino on the Creative Pentagram

Robbie Ierubino is an American artist studying Arts and Creative Technologies at Staffordshire University in Stoke-on-Trent, England. In a 2019 interview on this blog, he shared his own style of art he developed, which he calls “shapism” and how he uses his art to communicate his unique world perspective and advocate for autism acceptance. This week he shared new creative process theory the Creative Pentagram and offers advice for Autistic artists.

Can you give us a life update since your last interview? Are you still a graphic design student?

I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in graphic design in July 2020. I returned to Staffordshire University to get my master’s degree in Arts and Creative Technologies. This course lets me choose my own area of creativity. I have selected Creative Coding and Extended Reality as my two primary areas of study. I was able to select a supervisor who was my tutor from the graphic design course, and I am working with him on my Master of Arts degree. So, yes, I am still a student who is always finding ways to gain new experiences to be creative.

How has the pandemic influenced your art, your creative process, or productivity?

As an international student studying in the UK, the pandemic has been interesting. When studies went online in March 2020 for the lockdown, I returned to my home in Vienna, Austria. I lost the structure of my daily routine, and, for quite some time, I had nothing to do. But the pandemic didn’t stop my productivity and creative process. After finishing my university work, I decided to take online classes and do some freelance business to learn and design something new before returning to university. I took an online course about animation for typographic compositions (or kinetic typography) and created a rebranding logo for a US technology company.

Your new creative process theory of the Creative Pentagram suggests beauty, art, design, science, and engineering intersect and support each other to create an intelligent tool, piece of art, or design. Why do you think this is important for creators to understand? In other words, how does an understanding of your theory help them create?

I think this is important because anyone who creates, typically, follows a step-by-step process in one or more of these five subjects or elements of creativity. So, even if they are not thinking about these areas, they are aware of either their own history, the history of others in their fields of expertise and are looking to the future to make something “better.” So, while it doesn’t matter what they are creating (a new vaccine, a new tool, or a new piece of art), they are merging these elements together in their search for a better result, and, when done correctly, the result can be beautiful. Science brings knowledge, art brings imagination, engineering brings innovation, design brings function, and beauty brings attraction. I added beauty as a distinctive element because it should be included or considered throughout the creative process and combines qualities like color, shape, form, proportion, texture, and composition, pleasing the aesthetic senses.

Similarly, what are the benefits of understanding this theory for those who consume art?

The most significant benefit of understanding the Creative Pentagram relates to Plato’s metaphysical aspects: truth, goodness, and beauty. Since beauty is in the eye of the beholder, it brings the feeling of goodness into the human heart. Scientists have found that humans tend to dwell on aesthetic beauty. That is, when we sense something aesthetically pleasing, we want to spend more time contemplating it, figuring out how it was done. So, from the consumer’s perspective, I don’t think they need to understand the theory. The pleasure is in figuring it out for yourself.

Can you give a specific example of how this theory works in either a piece of your art or someone else’s?

Here is one example of how the Creative Pentagram is used, without being noticed, in a fascinating art installation called “Beauty” by artist Olafur Eliasson. This work involves engineering with natural science and the interaction between light and water. This piece is displayed in a dark room and has a spotlight shining through a falling mist. The appearance is beautiful as rainbows can be seen in falling water. The light displayed shifts in intensity or disappears as the viewer changes their distance to the piece. For me, the combination of these elements, in their simplicity, results in a beautiful piece of art.

The Netflix documentary series, Abstract: The Art of Design, has an excellent episode about Olafur Eliasson.

You’ve said before that you use your art as a way to communicate the thoughts and ideas in your mind. Have you found yourself using the Creative Pentagram theory more consciously since you’ve developed it?

I think all creatives use the Creative Pentagram, perhaps unconsciously. I believe I did. Now that I am aware of these interactions, I hope to use them to my advantage. So, it is not just the art created, but the mindset that goes into the planning and execution. If the Creative Pentagram is considered during the creative process, your imagination and experimentation flow into the plan to mix these elements. However, I still believe in “happy accidents.”

Do you have any advice for Autistic artists who are interested in pursuing graphic design (general artist life advice or specific resources or programs to try)?

If you are interested in graphic design, think about these questions: Have you ever drawn a logo you love? Are you interested in doing traditional or digital work? Do you like using a canvas, a computer, a smartphone, a VR headset, or any other things for fun? If you answer yes to any of these, but are still unsure, try taking an online class in an area you are interested in. I was scared about taking online courses, but after I took one, I realized that I could always go back to watch things that may have been confusing or curious. I wish I could do that in live classes sometimes! I want to wish people great success no matter what they dream.

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