Sunday, June 07, 2009

Creative People Recognize and Nurture Good Ideas

Trait #2: Creative People Recognize and Nurture Good Ideas

For me, generating ideas is sheer joy. Seriously. I love to sketch new characters and concepts all the time. Quite often, those ideas go nowhere. But then, every once in a while, I look at an idea and think, "yeah, that's the one." I want to take it further and ultimately to share it with other people.

So what makes an idea stand out? What makes it good? And what makes it worth your time?

Honestly, those aren't easy questions to answer, but I hope the following points will help:

1. Let me start by saying that as you exercise your creativity, you WILL have bad ideas. You will think they are wonderful in the beginning, but in the end, they will turn out lousy. It happens, and it is a GOOD thing, because experiencing bad ideas is a vital part of learning to recognize the good ones. So, I don't want you to think having a bad idea is a bad thing.

2. The basic question to ask yourself about any idea is, "does it solve the problem or challenge?" For example, if you're building a bridge, does it span from one side to the other and can it hold the weight it's expected to carry? Or if you're creating an illustration, does it communicate the text clearly and in a way that appeals to the viewer. For every creative endeavor, there is a purpose. So recognizing a good idea is really the act of defining your purpose and then picking the idea that fulfills that purpose best.

3. Often the key to recognizing a good idea is simply to try it. Mock it up. Write it. Do a sketch. Experiment. That's how good art and good science come to be.

4. Share your idea with other people. As an artist, the purpose of my art is to communicate. So, if I show it to someone and it fails to do that, I need to rethink the idea. But remember this: some people will not like your idea, but your mother really will. So, don't just share it with one person. Get several opinions and consider if your idea is really working. If it's not, don't take it personally and be willing to go back to the drawing board. This is not rejection. It's a good idea under construction.

5. And, ultimately, a good idea is what feels right to you. While others may or may not like your idea, it is important that you do (remember Trait #10: Creative People Value their Ideas).

There are many other ways to recognize a good idea, but I hope these will help point you in the right direction.

Suggested Sketchbook Activities:

1. A Good Reworking

Look around and find three stories, characters, advertisements, etc., that you consider "bad" ideas, and rework them your way. Then share your sketches with a friend and see how he or she responds. For example, while I'm a big fan of Star Wars, I'm not a fan of Jar Jar Binks. So I've considered how he might have been improved and sketched him more to my own liking. I'm sure you've got your own dissapointments, so this is your chance to make things better.

2. Concepts #2

Basically this is the same as the Concepts activity from my last post, but with the addition of one step. Share your concept sketches with someone else and see how they respond to each one. Ask yourself, does each sketch communicate the concept clearly and which one is most visually appealing?

1 comment:

Evenspor said...

I am really enjoying these posts. I observed this in school when I was taking the beginning design and drawing courses. The classes required so many sketches for each assignment. People hated doing the sketchbooks and wanted to skip right to making the finished product. I noticed there was a big difference in quality in the final product between the people who did their sketces first and those who would go back later and try to fill in their sketchbooks.

Even still this last year working on my advanced classes I had to relearn that not all of my ideas were going to end up sculptures. I would come up with an idea that I'd be really attached to and excited about for a couple of days, but in the end I would realize that it didn't really feel right, and I'd file it away.

I've also had to learn that it is important not to become too attached to the original design and to let it evolve as the project unfolds.

I think this is a great topic for a book. It is something most people don't seem to understand about the creative process.