Be More Creative: Find the Essence

November 2, 2009

We all want to be more creative. But how do we do it? Are there tried and true rules that we can follow that will make us more creative? There are a whole lot of books out there that say so. But how about something a little quicker and easier to digest?

First off, let me start by saying that I by no means am the creative of creatives. In fact I am ridiculously far from it, but I do have ideas (maybe even rules) that I’ve followed for a while that have yet to fail me. If you’ve stumbled upon these ideas, I hope they help you be more creative. Lastly, as everything else worth it in life, these ideas work best with hard work, hard work, and more hard work.

Find the Essence

How many web designers skin wire-frames these days? A whole lot. The problem is wire-frames have little to do with essence. How about making something good enough? You know the whole 80/20 rule? Nah, not this time. Finding the essence is a whole lot more than either of these two “rules” many of us follow in the web world. This essence thing is a weird one… but pays off big time if you can grab it at the right moment. To give you some context, the following is what finding the essence is all about.

“I was in charge of a course to introduce architects, painters, and teachers to the problems of the Bauhaus Basic Course; the first exercise I set was a still life. Two yellow lemons lay on a white plate, to which I added a book with a green cover. The members of the course felt almost insulted that they should be asked to draw something so simple. The outlines were laid down with a few quick strokes, and then everybody looked at me questioningly, without doubt expecting me to give them an introduction to geometrical problems of form. Without a word I picked up the lemon, cut it up and gave each member of the course a slice to eat, asking him: ‘Have you reproduced the essence of the lemon in your drawing?’ The answer was a sweet-sour smile, and everyone began afresh to study the still life intensely.”
- Johannes Itten, Design and Form

That’s how you should attack every design challenge that is put in front of you. No more skinning wire-frames, no more 80/20. Take the time. Find the essence and you’ll be well on your way.

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