You’d think this would be a non-issue—after all, I’m lucky enough to be paid a salary to design all day. But increasingly I’ve realized that for people like me, one creative outlet isn’t enough. The most interesting, creative people I know express themselves in a variety of ways. I call this practice informing practice, and I used to do it myself. Back before I made money from being creative, I was involved in up to five different creative outlets at a time. Now that my work consumes my life, that number has dwindled to one, and I can feel my non-design creative muscles twitching.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve associated creative pursuits with other activities. In every class from kindergarten through college, my head was always down as I listened to entire lesson plans while doodling superheroes, 3D cubes, and stylized words. I created logos for bands that didn’t exist, bands that did exist, comic books I wanted to make, and movies I wanted to film. Teachers often assumed I was ignoring them when I was drawing, constantly asking why I found the blank page in front of me more interesting than their lessons. But these doodles weren’t a distraction, they were a core part of my learning process, visual evidence that I was taking information in. Finding a way to put mark on the learning process made me feel like a better student.
Fortunately, my coworkers understand the concept of auditory learning, because I didn’t stop doodling after I left school. During any meeting at the GOOD office, I’m drawing faces, hands high-fiving, the words “DOPE,” “FRESH,” “HOLLA,” and “WHOA,” and more. A lot more. I try to contain my work to sketchbooks, but I’ll settle for scrap paper, napkins, or paper cups. I doom a lot of objects to a decorative demise.
I not a doodler, but this paragraph describes the day writing:
I start to dig into a little idea, and before I know it the compulsion takes over. Sometimes I won’t move from my seat for hours on end, only becoming aware of the world around me when my stomach growls and I remember the only things I’ve consumed all day are a Clif bar and an iced coffee. And even then, often I’ll just keep going. I get engrossed in my work too, of course, but that activates a different part of my brain, one that prioritizes success through creation instead of the process of being.