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What’s your sub-current?

08 Oct

In a recent article in the New York Times, artist Patrick Dougherty explains how he went from building a hand built cabin in the woods to becoming a world renowned sculptor:

My dream was to build a house. I didn’t realize my real dream, my sub-current, was to become a sculptor.

I really appreciate his use of the term sub-current to describe his underlying goals and vision for his personal purpose.  We as human beings are molded into our grown-up selves by countless influences throughout our lives.  Often, we forget to look inward and trust our own true path.  How do we get around these outside influences and find our own sub-current, our own chronic goals?

An interesting thing happens when we teach a group of people some rudimentary drawing skills to begin using their sketchbooks; students begin to immediately see their own individual voice from a visual perspective.  Working in a sketchbook with words and images, even more so than writing in a journal alone, is a crucial way to finding and staying in touch with your own chronic goals in life, our sub-current.

So what is your sub-current?  What are your chronic goals that lie just beneath the surface of your daily life?  Take a little time to explore them and they just might be sooner achieved.

Popularity: 8% [?]

 

The Ten-Minute Sabbatical

07 Oct

This fall I am fortunate to be the 2011 Artist in Residence at Mammoth Cave National Park.

Residency programs are the sabbaticals of the art world. They can range from a month to a year and are a chance for an artist to step away from the trappings of daily life and focus on work. I don’t mean necessary day-job work, but real vocation, which most artists will say their art work represents.

I arrived at Mammoth Cave just a couple of days ago and am already starting to settle in… thinking about things differently. I am using my time here to research and to write, read, sketch as much as I can. Although this is what I do at home, there is a different mind set to this time here. Sure, a month is not a year, but it’s a month. A powerful paradigm shift can occur in a month.

What would happen if I took some time every week, say an hour, to consciously change my mind set? To think and write about broader goals in life and work, to sketch in my sketchbook. What about even 10 minutes? What if everyone did this? I like to think of this as a ten minute sabbatical.

No matter what job you do, whether artist or salesperson, scientist, teacher, or IT specialist – a small sabbatical of sorts can be just the thing to keep your life and goals on track. You may not have a year like Stefan Sagmeister, or a month like me, but you might just have ten minutes.

Related:

Popularity: 17% [?]

 

Ten Things Milton Glaser Has Learned, and is willing to teach.

01 Oct

I read Ten Things I Have Learned by Milton Glaser last night. Here is my favorite, an embodiment of how living creatively changes everything. Drawing is an easy way to get started.

7
HOW YOU LIVE CHANGES YOUR BRAIN.
The brain is the most responsive organ of the body. Actually it is the organ that is most susceptible to change and regeneration of all the organs in the body. I have a friend named Gerald Edelman who was a great scholar of brain studies and he says that the analogy of the brain to a computer is pathetic. The brain is actually more like an overgrown garden that is constantly growing and throwing off seeds, regenerating and so on. And he believes that the brain is susceptible, in a way that we are not fully conscious of, to almost every experience of our life and every encounter we have. I was fascinated by a story in a newspaper a few years ago about the search for perfect pitch. A group of scientists decided that they were going to find out why certain people have perfect pitch. You know certain people hear a note precisely and are able to replicate it at exactly the right pitch. Some people have relevant pitch; perfect pitch is rare even among musicians. The scientists discovered – I don’t know how – that among people with perfect pitch the brain was different. Certain lobes of the brain had undergone some change or deformation that was always present with those who had perfect pitch. This was interesting enough in itself. But then they discovered something even more fascinating. If you took a bunch of kids and taught them to play the violin at the age of 4 or 5 after a couple of years some of them developed perfect pitch, and in all of those cases their brain structure had changed. Well what could that mean for the rest of us? We tend to believe that the mind affects the body and the body affects the mind, although we do not generally believe that everything we do affects the brain. I am convinced that if someone was to yell at me from across the street my brain could be affected and my life might changed. That is why your mother always said, ‘Don’t hang out with those bad kids.’ Mama was right. Thought changes our life and our behaviour. I also believe that drawing works in the same way. I am a great advocate of drawing, not in order to become an illustrator, but because I believe drawing changes the brain in the same way as the search to create the right note changes the brain of a violinist. Drawing also makes you attentive. It makes you pay attention to what you are looking at, which is not so easy.


A few books by Milton Glaser you should check out to learn more… Drawing is Thinking & Art is Work.

Popularity: 15% [?]

 

How the Rhode Island School of Design fosters a successful, creative culture.

30 Sep

Checkout this fantastic sampling of Freshman Sketchbooks at RISD, the Rhode Island School of Design.

Each first year student is mailed a blank sketchbook the summer before they start classes to capture examples of whatever they find meaningful. This explorative eye on the world sets the stage for their time at the school and helps instill RISD’s best-in-class approach to teaching design… observing and creating.

Also, for more info about how RISD builds a successful and relevant creative culture… see our recent post on John Maeda and how he believes, ‘Art and design can help solve problems in any industry.

via Twitter @johnmaeda

Popularity: 22% [?]

 

Art and design can help solve problems in any industry.

29 Sep

John Maeda, President of the Rhode Island School of Design and author of The Laws of Simplicity, has always been an advocate of applying art and design in nontraditional settings. In the quick video below, John explains how a creative background can help individuals succeed in tackling problems other skillsets may struggle with. This is Diversity of Thought in action, a key tenet of Drawing Down the Vision.

“Artists are able to imagine so well. Designers can also organize so clearly. This species of mind can be leveraged in the sciences and business in new ways.” – John Maeda

via The Economist, The Ideas Economy

Popularity: 13% [?]

 

Why “You just need to get started…” is bad advice.

28 Sep

In a recent collaborative post, Ramit Sethi (Stanford) and Cal Newport (MIT) challenge the self-evident truth of ‘You just need to get started…”

They advocate mulling over an idea much longer than is traditionally expected… and only acting on it when you have fully thought it through. This exactly aligns with how we leverage the journal in Drawing Down the Vision.

A journal is your catalog of your ideas. This historical record allows you to see how an idea evolved and merged with others. If you see the same blockbuster idea popping up over 6-12 months… you may want to revisit it in a more critical manner. See our Practice posts for practical guides on how to do that.

—–

“How many times have you heard someone say, “You just need to get started”?

I’ve even said it myself — that the hardest part of nearly anything meaningful (health & fitness, managing your money, etc) is getting started.

But Cal Newport, a published author and PhD in computer science at MIT, disagrees.

Cal will show you why it’s important to look beyond quick tactical wins and instead focus on the strength of your idea, which takes painstaking practice and ongoing iteration.”

Ramit Sethi via IWillTeachYouToBeRich

Popularity: 18% [?]

 

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% [?]

 

Templates to help tame your sketching.

25 Sep

Here are a few great templates to get your team, or yourself, excited about sketching out that new idea. Throw these out on the table and they turn the somewhat daunting task of ‘draw it out’ into a fun exercise, with the just the amount of structure to keep things rolling.

Click the images to download each of the sketching templates, or download the whole sketching templates package.

A blank sketching template with title, notes, author and project. The least restrictive… frightening for some.

A storyboard sketching template with 6 fields plus title, scene, people-power… You can use this to force everyone to think of multiple broad concepts quickly, early on in the project. Give them a sheet of one… and you won’t get many back. ideas. Encourage outlandish behavior.

For the engineer in us all… a task flow worksheet. This is great for thinking through a problem and all the steps needed to execute it. You can list the goals in the notes, or just write a little narrative about ‘Ernie the Earnest Engineer.’ Have fun. Give this to the novices.

Finally… dots. Dot concept paper can be an awesome way to think through a bunch of little ideas, little on paper that is. Use the dots to make interesting fun constellations and just spice up your sketches more than a blank sheet of paper. Wow your team. It’s the little things in life.

via Smashing Magazine

Popularity: 62% [?]

 

A concept product to help you draw straight, measured lines.

24 Sep

Here is an interesting concept called, ‘The Constrained Ball.’ It is supposed to help you draw straight lines, and measure them exactly. While that’s not exactly possible with a pen point and a singular touch point on a rolling wheel… this concept does have, well, wheels! We’d buy it.

via Designers Couch

Popularity: 20% [?]

 
 



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