Wednesday, August 07, 2013

There Was A Layer Of Disapproval Over Everything I Did

"Satisfaction is a function of physicality." I recently finished the final edits on my next two books. Which meant it was time for the best part of the creative process, making shit physical. And maybe it's because I'm a touchy feely guy. Maybe it's because the proliferation of digital has forced me to yearn for texture. But for my money, there's nothing more fulfilling than walking into the copy shop, watching the printer spit out three hundred pages of hard work, holding those hot little babies in your hands and inhaling the sweet smell of satisfaction. In that instant, I don't care if the books are good. I don't care if sell I single copy. I don't even care if people like the work. It's my moment, and nobody can take it away from me. That's enough.

"There was a layer of disapproval over everything I did." When you come from a family of artists and entrepreneurs, agency is in your blood. You don't wait for the world to stamp your creative passport. You take initiative, hire yourself and go after the things you want. Even if you have to break a few rules that don't exist. That's something I want to pass along to my children. The power of a permissionless posture. Not entitlement. Not narcism. And not an absence of empathy. But the ability to choose instigation over acquiescence. I can't imagine the kind of psychological damage kids experience when they're blinded by the dangling sword of family disapproval. Inspired by an interview with Judy Gold.

"If we're all in this together, it's more about turning to each other instead of turning to some invisible force." A central part of my job is drawing thinkmaps, collaborative whiteboard illustrations of our research, discovery and insights. What's interesting is, a thinkmap is only as valuable as the humanity connected to it. By itself, out of context, it's just another beautifully designed whiteboard. Whoopee. Every agency in the world has one of those. The difference maker is, when clients come in, the whiteboard turns into a campfire. A platform for sharing ideas and observations and questions. A canvas on which to paint our collective rigor. With every comment, the thinkmap grows. Kind of like the Omnidroid from The Incredibles, the learning robot who gets smarter the longer you fight it. Except at our office, it's totally analog. Which means you can always erase.

"Take your passion back." The root of the word passion is "to suffer." Old news. But here's a new way to look at it. Passion isn't just what we would suffer to do; it's also what would cause us suffering if we did not do it. That's how we can tell if it's a real passion or just an expensive hobby. Literal pain. Physical, emotional, existential agony from of a lack of something in our lives. The tricky part is when life's larger priorities––earning a living, supporting the family, insert adult responsibility here––hold more importance than, say, making art on the weekends. But it's not about balance, it’s about communicating the reality of the situation and trying to make it work. Inspired by Henry's photography.