I SIT ACROSS the room and watch our resident artist at work. And I learn about journaling from my vantage point at her elbow.
Nearly five years old, Mia (at left) has commandeered the scrapbook she's meant to bring to "big school" for summertime projects. Since she can't write, she creates with coloured pencils, glue sticks and scissors. It's the same creative process I've seen in BMW, Motorola, and animation studios. Just rough out a sketch and flesh out the words later. Do the sketch right and you can demand that your project manager writes the words.
There's a great need to ensure this kind of creative process gets enshrined in third level practical experiences. I've written about the need to set aside studio time with our creative multimedia students when academic credit arises for those who can truly observe and take notes. These are important skills because few creative multimedia students begin their studies with the ability to check out their immediate environments.
For most of my working life, I've tried to sketch ideas, not just scribble thoughts. When pressed for time and monty, I've sat in quiet corners and colourised ideas. Those hours in the corner are therapeutic for me.
Because I've clocked up a lot of creative hours, I realise I've lost good ideas through forgetfulness. I'm trying to fight this erosion of productivity by creating audio notes and by reversing direction once a day to creatively doodle with ideas. I hear the sage advice of Mick Wilson in a tiny corner of my mind. "Book them," he would say to a group of us in the open space of Temple Bar Gallery and Studios. And so I try.
I try to take notes like Leonardo da Vinci once did, knowing mine will never be as ornate or as famous as his. This summer I need to digitise the sketches I have sitting under my laptop right now. I need to make a photoset of his renderings of nature, art, engineering, and architecture. There's learning in the legacy of Leonardo's journals. As I thumb through one of them, I feel like I'm at his elbow.
Next month, I'm putting IdeaSpotting on my Kindle. That book documents how better design evolves from reflective thought.
-- Canadian designer Bruce Mau says, "The single most necessary device for me is a notebook. I just plow through notebooks."
-- Gail Anderson, Rolling Stone alumna and SpotCo art director, calls herself a note-taker and language observer. "I love making notes about type I've seen on store signs or on sides of buildings," she says.
-- Note-taking gives the creative process time to breathe, says Erin Whelan, Senior Art Director at Kraft Foo. "I love recording really out-there ideas," she says. "It's so great to start at crazy places and then reach middle-ground, smart solutions."
-- Eva Maddox, principal of Perkins + Will, has a journal in hand when she travels, but not for writing. "I draw," she says. "I draw at least one picture in my journal each day."
Regular readers of my blog will recognise my obsession with journaling. For those people, and for the students in our creative multimedia programme at the Limerick Institute of Technology, I'll build open this blog post by sharing insights I learn while sitting at the elbows of those who create.
Previously: "Creative Journaling" on Inside View, July 30, 2008.
Bernie Goldbach curates links about journaling.