If we work together, we really work together. Closely, under tight deadlines. And all that implies. So here we are. This is what we care about. Not the platitudes, but the important trends. Our process and how we get results. The ideas that won't let go. Or, opt out of the slow dance and read the summary.

Contributors

Keyword ‘Creativity’

Editing

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Editing, speaking generally, is part of any creative endeavor. I have been involved in a variety of creative pursuits in my life (we all have, but that’s another subject) and have found editing to be the commonality between them all.

Drawing

The first evidence that I would end up in a visual field was drawing. I started with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and haven’t looked back since. A friend once remarked that watching me draw was different than he expected because it was so messy. I would scribble the same form repeatedly layering pencil strokes as if I was looking for the line I liked, commiting only once I’d find it. My drawing process has shifted to quicker varied sketches since that observation but it still relies heavily on repetitive iteration. It’s as if I cannot make a decision until I am convinced it is well informed. I am editing the material I give myself.

Music

During high school and for a while afterwards I regularly played music with some friends. This is the first time that I experienced collaborative editing. It was awesome! We would jam and work through licks and phrases repeatedly, altering them towards a vaguely anticipated goal. We narrowed a broad idea gradually into a defined form. I have since let my musical abilities stagnate and decline. I think one reason for this, besides lack of time, is that I never enjoyed self-editing musically as much as group editing. Most musicians will tell you that collaboration is where the joy is.

Design

I have found that design is all about editing. There are two defining elements that are necessary to successful design; a clear goal and well-defined limitations. These provide the editorial framework for all the varied ideas and concepts that will emerge in the initial phases of a project. By comparing an idea for a design against the project goals and limitations it is possible to narrow the unwieldy array of possibilities into a focused and effective opinion.

Editing

Editing is the common activity of every creative pursuit I know. There are some industries where editors are a recognized and distinct part of a collaborative team; film editors take hours of footage and build a cohesive story, book editors helps authors form cogent narratives. Many of us work in industries where you can’t find “Editor” on any business card. It’s not that editors don’t exist, we are just left to do that work ourselves. We are all editors and it is my belief that with that realization we can formalize our processes and nail down the fleeting muse, even if only occasionally.

Benevolent Dictator

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Mills Baker wrote a great post about why compromise can be such a dirty word when it comes to getting things done. He starts off by giving the example of why compromise in government inevitably leads to stagnation:

…a real effect of compromise is that it prevents intact ideas from being tested and falsified. Instead, ideas are blended with their antitheses into policies that are “no one’s idea of what will work,” allowing the perpetual political regurgitation, reinterpretation, and relational stasis that defines the governance of the United States.

While this an astute, if depressing, summary of compromise and its effects in governance the rest of his post is actually a very compelling explanation of how compromise ruins good designs and weakens the outcomes of projects. I really enjoy Baker’s thoughts and find them to be true through anecdotal experience and observation. For instance:

…the creative arts are not so subjective as we tend to think, which is why a talented, dictatorial auteur will produce better work than polls, focus groups, or hundreds of compromising committees.

Despite the good points from this post I do think that collaboration is essential to success in most endeavors, especially large complex ones. The question is how to collaborate while staying true to the vision that the designer, author, director has put forth? I don’t know the secret to this but I do think that dividing a project into chunks and frequent candid non-presentational discussions to refocus on the overriding vision are essential elements.

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