Design Drama

documenting the delicate dance of design

Indulge me as I play “What if?” February 18, 2009

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about creativity and careers and all sorts of stuff that falls into and around those two categories.

I don’t know if I can properly put down my words on the epiphany I had regarding all of this, but I’m going to try.

For what’s been rattling around in my brain I’ll use, for example, Bill Gates and Leonardo Da Vinci – both masters in their fields of work and study – Gates with revolutionizing computers and Da Vinci revolutionizing art. Both found their niche in life rather early, which allowed them to excel in their respective fields.

By the same token, I know far too many people who slog through daily life at a job they absolutely abhor. These people are basically “making the doughnuts,” for lack of a better word.

But what if we have all these potential Bill Gates’ and Leonardo Da Vinci’s out there, but our greatest potential minds are not working in the field in which they would really shine and change the world? We’re in the midst of the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression. And we have supposed great economists working on the problem But, humour me here – what if the truly greatest financial mind is a plumber working in a factory BUT he doesn’t KNOW he’s a great financial mind because he’s never put forth the effort or ever had the opportunity (financially, etc) to exercise that part of his brain?

I realize the world is imperfect and we need plumbers and all those people that do various jobs to make our world run smoothly. I guess I’m being a little PollyAnna-ish here, but I’ve thought about this a lot lately and had to put it down and out into the world.

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4 Responses to “Indulge me as I play “What if?””

  1. dolphin Says:

    Well, da Vinci revolutionized just about everything.

    But I tend to think the reason we see fewer “geniuses” these days is our busy lifestyles (some of which is by choice, some of which is not). When you think of folks like da Vinci and other renaissance men, they were fairly aristocratic, so while they “worked” they weren’t exactly hurting for money. A farmer tending the fields has less free time than an aristocrat doing some creative task for the enjoyment of some other somewhat wealthier aristocrat. And those were the days before the internet, television, phones and other modern technologies that compete for our attention.

    I guess I tend to think that if the world is missing out on the greatest financial mind ever it’s not because he or she is out plumbing, but more likely because he or she is too busy watching American Idol.

  2. missbethd Says:

    I was somewhere, looking at something – maybe it was the Ruins of Windsor and the person with me said “how did they build this back then?” and I remember saying “they didn’t have TV, there was all the time in the world”

    So, yeah – you’re probably right… people are too busy rotting their brain on drivel.

  3. Kat Coble Says:

    First of all–pet peeve (I’m a bitch) alert. “da Vinci” isn’t his last name. It’s where he’s from. It’d be like calling me Kat Indiana or “Indiana” for short. But since I guess everyone does it, then it’s parlance so it’s okay or something.

    But I know what you’re thinking and saying. Along with part of that I have been thinking for the last while that the surest way to kill any spark of creativity is to do corporate design work. And I say that as someone who used to do corporate design work. It’s good training for basic layout and photoshop skills but it doesn’t really nurture the creative spark in the same way that Patronage used to.

    And here’s where I admit that I know there’s a problem but the only solution I see to the problem involves trading up for a bigger problem. All of our most creative times in the arts were under some form of subsidy–church or private entity. We can’t get those days back unless somebody underwrites talent.

    As far as economics go–I can’t think of a more worthless body of knowledge. It’s all theory. Any economist will tell you that. Much of our current crisis is in fact attributable to cabals of economists using the public as a petri dish to test their various theories. I have no doubt that the average plumber might have more common sense than the average economist.

    Which brings it around to my other comment on your point. It is possible to overnurture “talent” and in so doing obliterate common sense. It’s the same with economists, climatologists, ministers and attorneys. Because we’ve created a society that esteems knowledge and derides labour we’ve managed to elevate a class of people that often has little practical worth to the community insofar as “can they make a tangible good?”

    Boy, excuse the rambling. You just touched on a bunch of stuff I’ve been mulling over.

  4. missbethd Says:

    on the whole “the surest way to kill any spark of creativity is to do corporate design work” note, I couldn’t agree more, but it’s not even at the corporate level. Anytime an artist mixes creativity and commerce the work – from the artist’s point of view – will suffer.

    For example, I was listening to a local podcast – the topic at hand was indie recording artists (I hate that term, FYI – “Bitch alert!”) and the interviewer asked a handful what they would do if a major label came calling. And more than half of them said they would listen to what the label had to offer, but more than likely would turn them down because of creative control. It’s the same thing with visual artists.

    For example, in the past I’ve been asked to do logo design. A client comes to me with their company name and I go to work. Then after 3 -5 proposals, I’m usually met with “oh, can you do ____ and ____ and _____” — these are usually edits that totally wreck the logo and leave it devoid of any simplicity and/or elegance. BUT it’s not my logo and nobody will know I did it as my name is not on the logo.

    Kat, you never ramble to me. You usually hit the nail on the head. Thanks for dropping in.


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