Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The entirely un-scientific lifecycle of a creative idea

June 23rd, 2009

It starts with a thought…or maybe half of a thought…then it moves from a thought to a sketch. From a sketch to a colored, inked drawing. From that drawing, it jumps into the computer for an Illustrator rendering. Then, after endless tweaking, eyeball-burning concentration and a dangerous trek through the caffeine forest, it becomes a fully formed concept. When the concept is finally ready for the big show, it gets sent up before a brilliant team of executives; who promptly shoot it in the head.

Wait…what? That’s not the ending you were looking for?

Moving a thought from your brain onto the screen, translating what you see into something that becomes real for others, is harder than it looks. It’s one thing to wave your hands around and say, “I see something dazzling! Something incredible!” and quite another thing to actually create something dazzling and incredible. So when the planets align and the perfect project is born, how do you separate from it? How do you just leave it in the sand to find it’s own way back to the ocean?

Achieving objectivity toward my own work is one of the most difficult things about being a designer. To sit back and watch my poor, unsuspecting concept get jumped and beat down by a violent gang of otherwise civil nine-to-five-ers is not especially enjoyable. Just try to sit by quietly while your concept takes a kick to the face from a pair of sensible black pumps.

Why go through all of this? Why not just create a beautiful idea and let it exist; untouched, a shining example of perfection by design?

In short, it’s not perfect if it hasn’t been taught the skills it needs to survive.

Ultimately, the dangerous road is the only way for the concept to travel. It has to be put through its paces, and make it out the other side, or it was never real at all.

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