Archive for March, 2010

Trajectory of the creative mind

24 Mar
The Seed of a New Business: These sketches evolved into Dan's current product, artwork for offices. Every successful business starts small.

The Seed of a New Business: These sketches evolved into Dan's current product, artwork for offices. Every successful business starts small.

Notes that don't fall away: Dan shifted from legal pads and post-its to have a central journal where he could track, develop, and revisit his ideas.

Notes that don't fall away: Dan shifted from legal pads and post-its to have a central journal where he could track, develop, and revisit his ideas.

In our working culture, creative people are perceived to be ‘born.’ They’re creative just because they are! Unless we’re studying art history… seldom do we hear about how someone’s creative abilities changed over time. At Drawing Down the Vision, we believe that everyone has tremendous innate creative capacity, and would like share stories of how others have strengthened, and continue to strengthen their creative thinking. To begin, Denver Faulk and I had some fun talking with Dan Wallace of Ideafood. Here’s what we learned…

Dan is a creative journaler. He’s been successfully self-employed in the marketing industry for the last 23 years; using his unique  perspective, skills and network to deliver the results his clients needed. Those experiences, and a desire to succeed, have put his creativity on trajectory starting as a legal pad note-taker, and growing into the creative journaler he is today.

Dan originally used journaling as a bucket for his thoughts when he started his career at Fallon in 1984 (then Advertising Age’s Ad Agency of the Year). He had been burdened by the note-taker sickness of too many pieces of paper, always in a jumbled mess which would one day ‘just fall away.’ He shifted to one central place to collect those notes, his journal. This way, Dan could continue capturing his thoughts, but also have a record to return and explore his growth. He could make connections between the different states of mind he had working with different people in different environments.

The journal was a form of knowledge gathering. It helped him to practice active learning, applying his thoughts immediately in creative ways… always trying to come up with a concise visual way to document his thoughts. This process supported him as he moved on to build his digital marketing business in the late 90s and early 00s. The journal enabled Dan to seize more understanding of the world around him… to be able to critically analyze it, with open eyes, and to share his thoughts on client projects and the digital marketing industry.

Then, the dot-com-bomb blasted. Dan’s digital marketing suffered a significant decline in 2000, and he was put in a position where he had to reinvent himself and his business. With newfound time on his hands, and a passion to come up with new fresh ideas, he dove deeper into his journal, trying to build his creativity. What had once been his tool for active learning, on the side from his day-to-day business, but a core component of success… now became his full-time job! Discovering the next venture would consume Dan, and his search for ways to serve his customers drove a shift to journaling new product concepts, rather than just marketing ideas.

With a large collection of developed ideas and hand-rendered prototypes, Dan needed to find a way to make them real. He connected with Robyn Waters, who was VP of Trend at Target. Being astounded by the content of the journal, and his creative methodology, she offered to co-present his original idea, artwork for offices, at the national Innovation Convergence. Today, this initial concept of artwork for offices has morphed into a product that helps companies hire, educate, and motivate employees.

The focus on product development versus active learning in Dan’s journal was inversely related to the amount of time he devoted to his work. When his business was booming, he learned in the journal… when his business was struggling, his journal was booming… helping him to find his way. Today, Dan is actively developing the product line that sprung from his exploratory product development journals, with five sales to Fortune 500 companies under his belt.

Now that product development is occupying much of his time, he uses his journal to flex his creative muscles, keeping them active for the next time he needs them. Being in a more entreprenurial mode… he’s looking to continue that creative momentum. The journal, one of 30 over his career, serves to keep him fresh.

To close, we asked Dan a question… what would you say to those who have never journaled before? His response:

‘Do anything… ugly or poorly written, set the bar low. Get started. You can only go up from there.’

Popularity: 17% [?]


Small talk vs. Debate, Doodling vs. Drawing

23 Mar

Debate versus Drawing

Ok, let’s compare a few ways people share perspective. Let’s start with everyone’s favorite, small talk!

Small talk is about simple things. It’s about right now, something like… the weather! Small-talk is equivalent to doodling, it’s a starting point… letting your mind wander and sharing your thoughts. Who knows where it’ll lead.

Debate is about more complex things. People gather in groups to discuss who’s better at it. Debate is equivalent to drawing, people also gather to discuss who’s better at it! Both in debate and in drawing, you’ve got a picture of how it all works in your head… you just need to make others see it, either in their head or on a piece of paper.

When we draw, our pencil moves slower than our mind, we can only share so much of what we’re thinking… usually the simplest, but most important, stuff.

We begin drawing by focusing on the obvious details, we start with an outer line… an outline. Then we gradually fill in the details… a few lines here, some shading over there, maybe a big arrow to connect one thing to another. Throughout this process, we’re defining how one object relates to another… where it’s placed, how big it is, how heavily shaded it is. By it’s very nature, drawing is about establishing perspective. Clear perspective allows us to better communicate solutions to complex problems.

So next time you’re doodling… maybe you’ll consider kicking it up a notch and start drawing?

Popularity: 18% [?]


A visionary chef’s other tool, the pencil

20 Mar

Andrew Spurgin's Drug Store Mini Retro Burger Sketch - frisee,  roll, sea salt, sesame, kobe beef burger, pickle, plastic presentation  tray, lemon aioli

Andrew Spurgin, Executive Chef at Waters Fine Foods in ever-beautiful San Diego California, sees food his customers want, before they do. His mission is prove it to them.

While it’s not difficult with the final product, typically, he doesn’t have it on hand… or the ingredients and tools to make it right then and there. All he carries is a pencil and an eye for a loose sheet of paper.

As the article, ‘The Power of a pencil,’ in Catering Magazine showcases, Andrew is not shy to use drawing as the non-traditional method to make his foodie visions a reality. He uses sketches to feel out his clients desires, one at a time. He then shares these sketches with his kitchen staff, which ultimately serves to help him deliver the product, one at a time, on a much larger scale than he could himself.

Does this conjure up thoughts of how drawing can connect you, your clients, your team?

“I just found that it’s such a valuable tool, because things turn out the way you envision them and everyone is on the same page,” Spurgin says.

Popularity: 8% [?]


We’re growing…

14 Mar

Hello everyone!

We’re restructuring our site to give you actionable information about our creative journaling workshop and methodology. We’ll be sharing our research here, to take you on our learning journey.

Stay tuned for upcoming interviews with professionals who achieve success through the simplicity of drawing.

Adam & Amy

Read the rest of this entry »

Popularity: 3% [?]


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