The “Oblique Strategies” is, first of all, a deck of cards. More importantly, they are a fascinating collection of words and phrases designed to stimulate the creative process. Perhaps I should explain.
In 1975, musician Brian Eno and painter Peter Schmidt found that they shared a common problem of creative blocks. As professional artists, they often would be faced with deadlines for new works and be stuck for inspiration. Or, somewhere during the creative process they would get distracted and lose their focus. Both artists also had a similar way of getting their creativity back on track– some guiding principles that would lead them back to their original creative process.
Together, they assembled the Oblique Strategies. Composed of a deck of cards, each card is about the size of a standard business card. Originally printed privately in 1975 in a signed-and-numbered edition for their friends, they revised and reprinted them in 1978 and 1979. Peter Schmidt died in 1980, ending their collaboration on the Strategies. Eno once again revised them in 1996 for a special printing by computer guru Peter Norton. You may occasionally find them for sale in galleries, or on Ebay at a hefty price.
The purpose of the Strategies is to make you look at what you’re doing from a different perspective. Each card in the deck contains a statement. It may be a single word ( such as “Water”) or a full phrase (“Look at the order in which you do things”).
There is no real instruction manual for these cards. When you are stuck for inspiration or blocked in the middle of a creative moment, you may use them as an Oracle– pull one card for advice. Or, you may use them as a suggestion list– shuffle through them until you get an idea.
I find them to be insightful. I keep a deck on my desk, and pull out a new card each morning. When I’m working on a project, I’ll often pick up the deck and thumb through it seeking a spark that will fan the creative flames.
If you’d like to read more about the Oblique Strategies, you can check out this website.