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Archive for the ‘Connections’ Category

Synthesis and ‘Right Work’

05 Sep

SYNTHESIS (noun) \ˈsin(t)-thə-səs\ the combining of often diverse conceptions into a coherent whole

I have been able to distill from my many experiments and projects the ones that may actually ‘stick’ in the long run. I’m not blindly grinding away at the ‘wrong work.’

It’s been a wild summer ride around here at Drawing Down the Vision.  Adam and Amy have seen a rapid rate of change both professionally and personally in recent months and as we head into the more pensive autumn season, we are sifting through our experiences and new opportunities to see how it all fleshes out.

While Adam was busy moving to a new geographical location for work, I, Amy, took a few months off from blogging, teaching and art-making to go on what can only be described as a rather radical sabbatical.  Professional and personal travels took me to the desert of the southwest, the windswept coast of New England, across The Pond to Ireland, and many, many wonderful spots in between.  All the while, I had my trusty sketchbook close at hand to collect my seemingly random thoughts, drawings and experiences.

It’s important to get out of the usual routine that ties us to the day to day.  Sometimes we are only afforded the odd ten minutes to hit the reset button. Occasionally, we get the opportunity for more. Stefan Sagmeister’s year off dramatically changed how he approached his design business and my summer sabbatical has been the same for me.  Stepping back from the workaday treadmill can bring into full relief what is and what isn’t working in the studio.

I have been able to distill from my many experiments and projects the ones that may actually ‘stick’ in the long run. I’m not blindly grinding away at the ‘wrong work.’ I have been thinking a lot about where to put my limited time and energy to avoid feeling so scattered, which I did before this summer’s travels.

Author/ blogger Michael Knobbs writes about this phenomenon in his blog Sustainably Creative.  While I am not limited by any chronic conditions, I do have a full plate between familial commitments, hourly work (which pays routinely), art work (which pays only sporadically) and a whole host of personal, feed-the-soul kind of stuff.  What to trim and what to keep are more identifiable now.

Another important thing I re-learned over this summer’s travels was the importance of alone-time.  It is so easy to get trapped into responding to every last vie for my attention. Then, suddenly, I realize I haven’t spent time in my own company for days or even weeks!  Jacqueline Smith at Smart Solitude has some wonderful blog entries with gentle reminders as to how important time alone can be, especially for those following a creative path.

Synthesizing these lessons from time spent out of my element has created a bit of a sea change for me in life and work. We are interested in hearing about others’ adventures and how they affect one’s overall approach to the day to day.  Look forward to some guest posts!!!

Popularity: 41% [?]

 

Before I die.

13 May

Before I Die Art Installation

One of the most powerful exercises we use in our Drawing Down the Vision workshops is the “life list” exercise.

The ‘life list’ is what most people refer to as “the bucket list”, or “what I’d like to accomplish before I die.”   What we do differently is ask workshop participants to put drawn images to these goals and aspirations.  This iconographic approach to life goals makes them that much more tangible and therefore, that much more attainable.  A visceral image is one step closer to actuality than a word.

In our hurried world, not enough time is spent analyzing our chronic goals, until, often, it’s too late.  But a New Orleans artist, Candy Chang, is changing this with her interactive installation “Before I die…” on an abandoned building.

I encourage you to read the article and consider what your life’s important work is.  Even better, find images that represent these goals.  Whether they are drawn or found images, collect them and consider them often.

After all, we only get this life once.  Make the most of it.

Popularity: 46% [?]

 

How to build a creative juices pump.

25 Feb

DISCLAIMER: This works much better with 25+ cool people.

Arts Enterprise is a group effort to break down the silos between art and business. I’m still buzzing from the summit this past weekend.

Before we can merge the world of art and business… we must break down personal barriers between everyone attending our conferences and presentations.

Here are two techniques I practiced this weekend to get creative juices pumping, and people excited.

The Reciprocity Ring

Chris Genteel, Business Development Manager at Google, got everyone at the summit stirred up and mingling within 30 minutes. Each participant came to the conference with things in mind they’d like to accomplish. The Reciprocity Ring (by Humax Networks) was an activity that had each of us voice three things we could use help with, related to arts/business or not. What resulted was an instant connection of people willing and able to help each other.

  1. Get a big ring of dots on the wall. Provide some pens nearby.
  2. Give everyone a sticky note, and ask them to write three things they could use help with, related to the conference or not.
  3. After a few minutes, gather everyone around the big ring of dots on the wall, and ask people to one-by-one share their three things they could use help with. When they’re done, ask them to write their name next to one of their dots, and place the sticky note next to it.
  4. Other people who can help that person with one of the three things should write an answer on a sticky, and place it on top of the persons plea, then draw a line between that person’s name and another dot with their name on it… showcasing the connection.
  5. After everyone shared and listed connections… open up the room for everyone to chat with people who have answers!

The Critical Run

So, you’ve got a big problem you’re trying to solve… its hairy, and you don’t know where to get started… you just want to have an open and engaging discussion about it.
  1. Get everyone who wants to chat it together dressed and ready to run.
  2. Appoint a leader who will guide the group on a 3 mile run. They must know the loop, be able to lead the pack, and be knowledgeable enough about the topic to foster discussion when its not flowing.
  3. Let the magic happen, and enjoy the run.
  4. Get a more formal discussion organized as a wrap-up, after people get a chance to get a drink or shower. :)

What techniques do you have to engage a big group?


Learn more about conducting The Reciprocity Ring or The Critical Run.

Popularity: 82% [?]

 

The edge is where the action is. Business-Design-Art-Music.

24 Feb

Amy and I are back from the Arts Enterprise Summit in Kansas City. It was so much more than a conference…

Back in the real world, I found myself explaining the experience to a colleague. This event was special not because of the content of the slide decks or the caliber of the speakers, but rather the combination of all the people. This was the intersection of a network passionate about business, design, art, music, and everything in between.

The edge between all those worlds is where the action is… this is where you foster Diversity of Thought, the ability to see the same thing in many different ways, simultaneously.

As the summit was full of practicing musicians (more than I’ve ever spent time with!), I had the opportunity to explore how the musician thinks, the struggles their working community faces, and how they overcome it all to create a working piece of art and help the community grow.

Peter Witte, the Dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, had an enlightening quote about the growth of this creative organization: “Through music-making we learn to listen, to accompany, to support, to empathize, to work together… all non-verbally.

Every organization could use this kind of perspective.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to sit at the table with business professionals, freelance designers, visual artists, and practicing musicians to discuss creative output and bringing new ideas to the world… do it. This event was a pinnacle example of whole-brain thinking… so many quick wits, so many interesting perspectives, so many memorable jokes!

Now, I must get back to training for karaoke next year.

Popularity: 48% [?]

 

A day with some future leaders.

02 Feb

Recently, the Drawing Down the Vision team led a pro-bono workshop for 24 volunteer teenagers in the American Red Cross ‘Leadership Development Center‘ in Cincinnati. The young people had been involved with the program in years past and are now responsible for developing the overnight leadership conference for their new incoming peers.

Amy and Adam introduced the teens to many of the exercises used in Drawing Down the Vision.  It was tremendously exciting to guide them through the process of thinking differently with a sketchbook, defining short and long term goals, and embarking on a new form of self-exploration.  By exploring some of their broad personal goals in their new sketchbooks, students began to open up to what aspirations they might have for their work with the Red Cross.  Many of the students enjoyed some of the exercises so much they plan to utilize them as ice-breakers at this summer’s conference.

Diana Wood, director of the LDC program has this to say: “I am sure  that I have not yet seen the end of ways that the workshop impacted these students… the ways in which they will think about and approach the many tasks that are before them.”

This is the beauty of embarking on a journal-based thinking process.  The ways in which disparate information percolates in a sketchbook can provide new connections that lead to exciting new ideas.  Congratulations to the future leaders at the American Red Cross.  It was a pleasure to work with them!

Popularity: 45% [?]

 

Drawing is Seeing.

09 Oct

James McMullan teaches basic drawing skills every Friday, through writing. His New York Times series, ‘Line by Line,’ showcases the value of drawing as a way to see the world, and the relationships of objects within it.

Try his lessons to help make your sketches, drawings, notes that much more engaging.

Also, checkout our posts on templates for drawing out ideas, drawing a landscape, and how changing perspective changes your results.

Popularity: 26% [?]

 

Roman Anxiety and Three Month Old News.

27 Sep

A recent article on information overload by The Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan really struck my Sunday fancy. She presented me with a wonderful bit of historical perspective as I lay out in the San Diego sun enjoying what some believe to be derelict, a newspaper.

Just like we see frenetic suits and babysitters checking their Blackberry’s and iPhones in grocery store lines, rather than buying a pack of Juicy Fruit… Lucius Annaeus Seneca, a Roman senator, saw hoards of people waiting for the postal service when the Roman ‘highways’ were built.

The newly built roads enabled human connection like never before. This torrent of information was seen to be so valuable some couldn’t tear themselves away from it… they were stuck their wasting life away, anxiously waiting for Mr. Postman.

Whoever thought there would be anxiety over three month old news?

Seneca, Information Overload is Nothing New, Peggy Noonan, Newspaper

via The Wall Street Journal

Popularity: 9% [?]

 

Creativity, the door to good times and good business.

26 Sep

Scott Cook, the founder of Intuit who is also on the board of directors at eBay and Procter & Gamble, is all about unleashing human potential. If you haven’t noticed, so are we.

Economist Ideas Economy, Scott Cook

At The Economist’s Ideas Economy Conference, Cook discussed how human potential in the U.S. has waned. According to recent surveys, about 70% of American workers are not engaged: 20% are actively disengaged, and 50% are not particularly committed. This is bad for the disengaged employee, and for the disrepaired business.

Cook advocates, “The way to put human potential on steroids is rapid experimentation. Got an idea? Okay, what are the hypotheses underpinning that idea, and how can we rapidly test one or more of them?” This is what Drawing Down the Vision and drawing ideas out can help you and your team do. So, how can you get started?

We’ve learned in our workshops how scared most self-proclaimed non-creatives are of the blank paper and wet pen. Help make everyone comfortable and you’ll unleash the team’s true potential.

Let us know how things go!

via Fast Company

Popularity: 8% [?]

 

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% [?]

 

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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