Archive for August, 2010

Testimonial: Mark Lloyd, Systems Manager

24 Aug

Drawing Down the Vision was an excellent workshop with practical, real-world examples.  Adam and Amy shared their experiences and facilitated well developed exercises to enhance my learning.  Because of this workshop, I am better able to recognize when a picture or visualization could be more impactful.  This leads to better engagement and clearer understanding by others.

- Mark Lloyd, Systems Manager (Procter & Gamble)

Popularity: 4% [?]


Write for Drawing Down the Vision

19 Aug

We’re looking to expand the team of writers here at Drawing Down the Vision. Are you interested?

We love to discuss the creative process.
We want to build a community of people looking to lead more creative, inspired lives.
We want to instill a value for art in all working environments.

If you’ve been following along and have ideas or experience you’d like to contribute, or know someone else who should, let us know!

Popularity: 24% [?]


High School Dropouts and the decline of routine work.

18 Aug

Stamford, Connecticut has put together a task-force of 300 local business, political, and social leaders. This organization is called ‘Reinventing Stamford.’

One of their first publicized reports, ‘Pivot Point,’ highlights local, regional, and national issues that are being faced, and begins to propose solutions. One of the major issues is the state of educating our workforce, increasing their ability to handle the known issues of today and the unknown issues of the future.

In the graphic below, from Pivot Point, you can see the dramatic shift that has occurred in the task content of jobs from 1980 to 1998. Every level of education has seen at least a 10% increased in non-routine cognitive / interactive work. This type of work demands a high Creativity Quotient and ability to practice both convergent and divergent thinking… to understand all the variables affecting a situation and help come up with solutions which make the most of the resources at hand. This is exactly the type of skill that America is losing today, as highlighted in our article on America’s Creativity Crisis.

Change in Task Content of Jobs. This graph shows the change in task content of jobs, by the education level of the worker, from 1980 to 1998. The highest percentage increase towards expert thinking [Non-Routine Cognitive/Analytical] and Complex Communication [Non-Routine Cognitive/Interactive] were in jobs held by workers with only a high-school diploma. Source Murnane and Levy. Routine Cognitive, Routine Manual, Non-Routing Manual, Non-Routine Cognitive-Analytic, Non-Routing Cognitive / Interactive, Annualized Change in Task Measure, High School Dropouts, High School Grads, Some College, College Grads

Research on drawing shows that it is a great way to build up your QC and increase convergent and divergent thinking. So go ahead, and start practicing, and help expose others to working creatively.

Take a look at ‘Pivot Point‘ pages 14 and 15 to learn more.

Popularity: 12% [?]


Creativity can be taught: Averting the Creativity Crisis.

17 Aug

Newsweek recently ran an article titled, ‘The Creativity Crisis.’

The authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman describe how America’s K-6 students are scoring dramatically lower in their Creativity Quotient (QC). This is startling because the correlation between lifetime creative output (books, software, successful companies…) and QC is three times strong than that for IQ. As we are gearing our schools for rote memorization to raise student IQ, we’re losing focus on their QC… the ability to relearn facts and rethink  problems in our constantly changing world.

The good news is, ‘Creativity can be taught,’ says James C. Kaufman, professor at California State University, San Bernardino. The article states ‘Real improvement doesn’t happen in a weekend workshop. But when applied to the everyday process of work or school, brain function improves.’

The National Inventors Hall of Fame School in Akron, Ohio tramples the limits of American education, the system creating our creativity crisis. 5th graders nationwide are required by curriculum to memorize information about sound waves and practice persuasive writing. The Akron school sets up activities for students to develop solutions to real problems, such as how to limit the noise coming into the library through the street-facing windows. “ ‘You never see our kids saying, ‘I’ll never use this so I don’t need to learn it,’ ‘ says school administrator Maryann Wolowiec. ‘Instead, kids ask, ‘Do we have to leave school now?’ ‘ ”

This is the reason Amy and I started Drawing Down the Vision. The creativity crisis exists not only in America’s lower schools, but also in its most successful companies. Our world is seeing new problem’s never before faced which demand creativity and leadership from all its citizens. While we teach Drawing Down the Vision through our three-hour workshop, it is really just an intro to a process you will apply each and every day of your life to practice and continue living and learning creatively.

We hope our writings here are helping to drive up the world’s QC.

Participants in the study were asked to take blank pages with random shapes and turn them into a story. Here, a bunch of triangles turns into 'James Joyce in a Confessional.'

Popularity: 16% [?]


Personify your problems.

16 Aug

When I was a kid, I had composition notebooks filled with odd characters. They were inspired by day-to-day life… things I saw, things I did, things I wished I could do. Then, I grew older, got busier, and stopped sketching. It seemed pointless.

Today, all those characters lie dormant. But, I plan to revisit them once launches.

Grafighters will allow you to upload an image of hand-drawn character via email or mobile device. Grafighters will then turn your character into an animated fighter… not one you control like a traditional game, but one that battles the ranks of other characters through a specific algorithm that defines strength, speed, stamina…

I can see this as an awesome exercise for any team trying to think through some problems in a creative way. What if everyone had the opportunity to personify their team’s business problems in a character sketch… and then have fun watching them battle it out?! It would provoke some very interesting discussions, and be a way to light-heartedly think through what could otherwise be very stressful.

So, get out there and start sketching personifications of your problems. Think through your problem in a new way by turning it into a real character, a villain of sorts. You’ll be surprised by how openly and differently you will see the situation. This is the power of metaphorical sketching.

If you’re anxious to get started… you can send your characters to

Popularity: 28% [?]


The Bull, how Picasso practiced being concise…

14 Aug

At Drawing Down the Vision, we know the only way to get people on board with your wild dreams and aspirations is to make them digestible, to serve them up in byte-size chunks. If you start simple, and build from the core, you can slowly bring to life what previously seemed impossible.

However, we often have difficulty understanding what exactly is the core, and prioritizing which chunks to serve first. This is what makes successful people stand out… the ability to distill complex information to its essence, and communicate it effectively.

A few months back, we wrote an article about practicing to be concise. Today, we’ll revisit that theme with a series of Picasso’s sketches currently showcased at the MOMA, Museum of Modern Art in New York in the Paul J. Sachs Prints and Illustrated Books Gallery. This series showcases how Picasso started with a powerful vision, and dwindled it down to its core essence.

First off, here is a bull. Picasso started with an elaborate rendition of his vision, this bull. It manages to seem both emaciated and all-powerful at the same time. He spared no charcoal to develop all the textures and details fully.

Bull, State IV - December 18, 1945

A week later we see, another bull. This one certainly lacks the life-like textures and details of the previous, however Picasso maintains the jaunt-like skeletal structure and rough edges that personify this brick-like creature.

Bull, State VII - December 26, 1945

Later that day, Picasso varies on his morning sketch, and this time removes the noise surrounding the bull, focusing on just the powerful, woven frame.

Bull, State VII Variant - December 26, 1945

Two weeks after the original sketch, Picasso focused on less of the frame innards, and more on the outline. Slowly he decides to maintain the core body, but remove the lattice-like network that creates an inner girth.

Bull, State XI - January 2, 1946

One month and 18 sketches later, Picasso has come to a conclusion. The frame, four legs, two horns, a simple tail, and one more minor detail comprise the essence of a bull. Those elements could be drawn in another perspective to seem like a horse or an elephant, but the key is that Picasso understood the relationships and ratios of the lines between these core elements. Drawing is all about seeing relationships.

This sketch became so powerful to Picasso, it is the only one he felt comfortable gracing with title of ‘The Bull,’ rather than just ‘Bull.’

The Bull, State XIV - January 17, 1946

Those of you interested in the data visualization scene may equate this experiment of Picasso’s to the data-ink ratio of modern-day data shaman Edward Tufte (published in Tufte’s elegant masterpiece, The Visual Display of Qualitative Information).

Essentially, Tufte stated that a diagram should only include the non-erasable ink which communicates the content. If that ink were erased, the message would be lost. In Picasso’s example, the lack of horns, tail, legs, and the ink used to create the space between them would limit your understanding of this massive mammal, the bull.

So, in your future work… you may sketch out your thoughts and have far too many details to make them digestible for others, or even yourself. That’s ok, it’s a start. Give your thinking some time, and then revisit the sketches. Try to cut 10, 20, or 50 percent. Slowly you’ll learn what are the most important elements of your work, and you will be better able to communicate them to others. This will allow you to make what previously seemed impossible… a reality.

Go draw your bull.

Popularity: 100% [?]


Field Notes

10 Aug

It’s been a busy summer of traveling for the Drawing Down the Vision team. Some of it work, some of it play… we are always looking for new ideas and ways that basic sketching skills can be used to get the job done.

While my family and I (Amy) were on vacation in Montana, we had the great privilege to visit a team of paleontologists working at a dinosaur dig site. These scientists take copious field notes about where things are found at a site and how they are arranged throughout the extraction process so the fossilized dinosaur bones can be best preserved.

While on route to the dinosaur dig we drove through prime Lewis and Clark territory.

What would their journey have been with out all of their now famous journals depicting everything they encountered and the landscape through which they traveled? It is the quality of their drawings and sketches that really made the journals valuable for future explorers following in their path.

In today’s day and age, we are certainly not limited to the tools Lewis and Clark. We have photography to help us document our travels in the world. But drawing a place, or a found feather, stone or bone really places you there in the moment. Recording your view or your find in a way no one else can.

Try taking some “field notes” while on your summer travels. You may find it enhances your experience. And the drawings you bring home in your sketchbook will forever remind you of exactly where you were, what you were seeing and how that all felt.

There’s tremendous value in that.

Popularity: 13% [?]


How to avoid the devil in the details.

05 Aug

Here is a fantastic excerpt from ‘Getting Real,’ a simplicity-promoting book by 37Signals. They are one of the most successful software development companies around today… with 20 employees serving the needs of over 3,000,000 users!

I really got over the ‘get into details right away’ attitude after I took some drawing classes…If you begin to draw the details right away you can be sure that the drawing is going to suck. In fact, you are completely missing the point.

You should begin by getting your proportions right for the whole scene. Then you sketch the largest objects in your scene, up to the smallest one. The sketch must be very loose up to this point.

Then you can proceed with shading which consists of bringing volume to life. You begin with only three tones (light, medium, dark). This gives you a tonal sketch. Then for each portion of your drawing you reevaluate three tonal shades and apply them. Do it until the volumes are there (requires multiple iterations)…

Work for large to small. Always.

- Patrick Lafleur, Creation Object Inc. (from Signal v. Noise)

We’ll be posting soon about how to practice the tonal sketching Patrick described.

Popularity: 7% [?]


Books for you.

03 Aug

We just put something new together for you all, it’s called ‘Books for you.

We provide our Drawing Down the Vision Workshop participants with a list of further reading as part of our Atlas to help them keep practicing and stay inspired. We figured we’d share that with you as well.

We’d love to hear your feedback, and learn of any titles, or anything, which helped you practice Drawing Down the Vision! Enjoy!

Drawing Down the Vision Atlas Further Reading

Popularity: 4% [?]


Presenting at the Arts Enterprise National Conference

02 Aug

AE. Arts Enterprise. The Art of Business. The Business of Art.

Amy and I are honored to be presenting at the Arts Enterprise National Conference on February 19-21, 2011 in Kansas City, MO.

The primary goal of the conference is to help more national chapters get started. The secondary goal is for businesses such as Procter & Gamble, Apple, Google, Disney, Dreamworks and other to connect with bright students who work at the intersection of art and business – what we’re all about!

If you recall, we originally connected with Nate Zeisler, the co-Founder and Executive Director of Arts Enterprise, discussing  promoting diversity of thought. Nate is doing an awesome job organizing the event and pulling all the national chapters together.

Comment below if we can look forward to helping you start an Arts Enterprise Chapter at your school or connect your business with Arts Enterprise!

You can follow Arts Enterprise on Facebook and Twitter or read the Arts Enterprise Annual Report.

Popularity: 9% [?]


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