Connecting the Dots
Often I’m asked how I come up with ideas for my work. I’m not always certain how to answer.
Often the particular needs of the client shape the idea, such as the need to create a dramatic focal point that can be seen from outside.
Sometimes the idea is in my head, searching for the right outlet for expression. Sometimes it’s a bit difficult to explain.
Shortly after he passed away, I came across this quote from Steve Jobs (via HOK):
“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.”
This observation resonates for me and helps me put words to my own process. I often find myself churning through ideas–experiences, associations, observations, feelings–that seem random and disconnected, but suddenly make sense when they come together in the form of colors and patterns. It’s not so much a process that begins in my head and proceeds to paper, but rather, the thinking occurs in working with the material, whether glass, digital media, or conventional media such as markers or watercolor.
Jobs proceeds to propose that such creativity is made possible by having (or at least continually processing) diverse experiences. “Connecting the dots” between diverse experiences, he goes on, can lead not only to pleasing artwork, but good technological design.
“Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.”
I have a feeling this call for awareness could translate well beyond the realm of art and design.