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Posts Tagged ‘slow down’

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!!!

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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:

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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

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A shift to empirical learning.

18 Jun

I was browsing Forbes 25 Ideas to Change the World… only two seemed to be diametrically opposed to the others. They are fully in line with the way we work here at Drawing Down the Vision.

The first challenge was by world-renowned Graphic Designer, Milton Glaser. His idea is to ‘Suspend Ideology.’

Milton Glaser, Graphic Designer, Suspend Ideology

“What people have to do is to stop believing and begin to observe.” – Milton Glaser

He commented that Art is an instrument to promote Attentiveness. He states, ‘Art is Whatever,’ as long as it challenges us to observe the situation and ask, ‘What is real?” Art is a tool for human survival, and asks us to question what we’re doing, and why. His idea is to help make the most of our lives, living creatively and seeing infinite options at any moment.

In a recent article in Print, Glaser discussed his role models. One of them happened to be a long-time client, a restaurateur, Joseph Baum, who was capable of looking at a common situation afresh. Even when setting a table, he asked, “OK, where on the table should we put the silverware?’” He was inquisitive to the extreme, basing his actions on an understanding of the current moment. He wasn’t a fan of blindly repeating the past. This constant re-basing allowed him to limit time spent living in the ‘Illusion of Explanatory Depth.”

This ever-creative view of the world reminds me of Melissa Pierce’s quote for her new film Life in Perpetual Beta, “Is the planned life worth living?”

The second reverberating idea was by top consultant, Babson educator, & Harvard Sociologist, Thomas Davenport.

Thomas Davenport, Consultant, Slow Down

“We live in a world in which the capability to deliberate is vanishing.” – Thomas Davenport

He spoke of the power of slowing down. He says we’ve lost the ‘gift of deliberation.’ With the ever increasing presence of information in our lives, we believe we are being more effective, but are instead stuck in a ‘productivity churn.’ We need to break away in order to practice true creative problem-solving, to develop a concise understanding of what we are doing, and why.

Entropy is a fundamental law of engineering. It is the measure of how disorganized a system is. The law states that disorganization will only increase in a complex system. We need to find a way to make our worldly system less complex. We control how complex it is through the focus of our efforts.

Both of these fantastic thinkers showcase a shift to learning empirically. They value observations and intuition over the blind trust for the illusory knowledge we have accumulated from a different time, for a different situation. We are educating ourselves to idiocy. We are looking at how we can trust and make sense of all this information with so many hidden assumptions.

So, as we always say, find some time to get away from your work. Try the Low Information Diet. Use your journal and sketchpad as a way to practice attentiveness, to deliberate on the myriad things you can do every day of your life. Commit to do those things which are fundamentally important to the well-being of you and your community.

Be breakthrough, not busy.

As always, please share any thoughts or tangential articles!

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