Monday, May 28

the chasm separating concept and execution

In his book, Understanding Comics , Scott McCloud partitions the creative process in 6 steps. It is rather awkward to explain in the written word and I would be doing his book an injustice by trying to emulate his eloquent and easy to grasp style of teaching. Suffice to say that there is a process to creativity, in the long term as in over the course of a career and in the short term like within a single project. Sometimes an artist will get a flash of creativity, but those flashes are occasional at best. Most of the time being creative is quite simply hard work. One must push what may seem to be a completed work, shake it up to see if there are perhaps new angles to look at it. More often than not there are and these new angles spark ideas thus creating more work.

Now for the other end of the spectrum. As Mr. McCloud so elegantly explains, many people who decide they want to be artists/designers are drawn to the surface of things. They see another artists work and think "wow that's so cool! I want to do that." They will copy that artist to the best of their ability and come up with something that may look like the original but lacks its' substance. This phenomenon demonstrates the great challenge that is the execution of a concept. It's one thing to think something up, it's another to execute it effectively. Technical skill and high end tools don't generate good ideas.

A creative person may come up with several great ideas yet if that person lacks the skill and experience to execute it successfully those ideas remain just that, ideas. If an idea is not communicated properly it loses value. I'll explain by example. Say you have an idea to build a house of your dreams. As you envision it, it is gorgeous! Yet you've never used a circular saw and you don't know how to draw up a proper blueprint. That house will stay in your head only. Conversely, having stellar technical skills will not guarantee a great house. Do you see what I mean by chasm? That is why there has been much talk about right-brain / left-brain. Add to the equation the fact that most of us tend to favor the right or the left and you've got yourself a pickle!

As much as possible one must strike a balance between creative and technical skills. I've found that for myself, I can take in creative knowledge in great big gargantuan gulps but I have to sip technical skills. Thus creating an imbalance between my ability to generate solid ideas and my ability to execute them successfully. It's quite frustrating.

The point of all this is? Art is difficult. It's a métier, a trade, a craft. And it takes time, dedication, courage and hard work.

No comments: