The simple pencil is a power tool and metaphor. A pencil line on paper is a physical expression of a thought -- but it can also be erased -- which allows for mistakes, adjustments, and corrections without judgment or consequence.
The pencil enables creativity.
Throughout the fabrication of my installation, Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin, I often thought about the many meanings and iconic potential of the pencil as both medium and message.
The pencil may be relegated to filling in a bubble on a standardized test. Or the pencil can be a medium for learning and fostering creative confidence.
Two fabulous interviews with noteworthy innovators highlight the creative process and the necessity to actively expend effort to achieve creative outcomes.
This first interview is with Tom & David Kelley of the design and innovation firm IDEO speaking about their book "Creative Confidence - Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All"
The Charlie Rose program is embedded in this blog or can be watched on the Charlie Rose website.
Their primary message is that everyone can be creative. "We have to stop this process in which we divide everyone into the creatives and the non-creatives."
"It isn't like creativity comes from on high. You still have to work at it. Your intuition is informed by your experience. The more times you have gone down this path, coming up with a new idea, testing it with people, and trying to understand the right thing, your intuition is informed, so it is easier to leap to that big idea."
The effort of trying, testing, and experiencing failure is a very familiar scenario in my studio. When I struggle to bring new work to fruition, I know the effort, frustration and the failure. The self-judgment of the early, lesser outcomes drives the learning and paths to experiment with new directions.
I highly recommend watching this interview and reading the book. There are many insightful comments during the interview. A comment that particularly resonated with me was, "None of our processes gets you away from the creative leap to a new place." In other words, a creative leap is going where you have never gone before. A leap is a big jump, not a baby step -- a jump that you would not have recognized unless you had already tried the many baby steps.
There is a 2nd interview that I want to mention in this discussion about creativity.
Listen to this Charlie Rose show (below) with Jony Ive, Senior Vice President of Design at Apple, and with industrial designer, Marc Newson. They discuss their "craft" of design. Generally they focus on objects they've designed for the Red collaboration at Sotheby's.
They certainly do know "craft" despite their design background. They describe the gorgeous sterling silver pitcher (left) designed by Henning Koppel for George Jensen with reverence for the craft process. They understand and value "the making" of an object.
A surprising revelation is that Jony's father was a silversmith, and Marc Newson studied metalsmithing. They discuss this object twice so listen all the way to the end of the show.
The lecture is embedded in this post or go full screen right here.
Listen carefully for how they describe their design process at length. Each insight is a treat...but what I always appreciate between the lines is that they never say it is easy. They work at their designs. They open the topic of design, simplicity, function, the beauty of objects, the function of tools, and transcending function to achieve aesthetics. The process of making, with consideration of the materials and the fabrication, is integrated into their thinking.
"So much of what we do is trying to imagine something that doesn't yet exist."
The final thought for today is that they mention sitting and drawing in their sketch books.
I imagine that they are using PENCILS.