The quote is from Picasso and I first encountered it in the book MTIV: Process, Inspiration and Practice for the New Media Designer by my dear friend and mentor Hillman Curtis. The words of Picasso settled into my subconscious like an answer waiting for a question but we’ll get back to that in a minute.
Published in 2002, Curtis explains explains his approach to working in new media which at the time was very new, and very hot. The book is as much a step by step guide to process as it is a trove of inspiration filled with personal stories and wisdom drawn from artists, writers, filmmakers and musicians. By addressing both the practical and the personal Curtis outlines a path to the profession and serves as the ultimate mentor for how to be a whole creative person.
The MTIV in the title is an acronym that refers to “Making the Invisible Visible”. In other words, as designers, artists and creators our superpower is the ability to forge ideas into the world and to go on the journey that it takes to make that incredible act of creativity, vision, skill and technique happen.
Looking back over the last 20 years as a practicing designer I realize early on I fell in love with the creative process. Whether it’s leading cross functional teams through complexity or rolling up my sleeves and designing solo, I absolutely love design. And over the years I’ve come to recognize my participation in the creative process as an act of courage. It takes courage to coalesce ambiguity, it takes courage to navigate complexity and it takes courage to create artifacts that represent a diverse set of influences and ideas and have those artifacts judged by teammates and users.
When I really think about the creative process, I realize even the term is a vast oversimplification of the rich and verdant world where I’ve spent countless hours. And it’s only recently that I’ve taken on the task of asking why? Why am I so fascinated, dare I say enchanted by this world? What does the creative process actually look like?
Is there an art to design? Can the alchemy of craft, intuition, research, collaboration, luck, time, talent, data, and ideas be explained? Or made repeatable by a formula? What can we learn from the road traveled by others?
This area of inquiry cannot be tackled alone. That’s why I’m thrilled to share the launch of In/Visible Talks with all of you, a conference about the creative process.
In/Visible Talks is a conference for designers and creative thinkers working across a range of mediums to engage in conversation about the art of design. In/Visible showcases both process and practice design, celebrating the ups and downs, the mistakes-turned-success, the unintentional inspiration and the unexpected connections that occur along the way.
And now we’ve come full circle, back to Picasso. “I start with an idea, and then it becomes something else.” Picasso offers one of many answers to the question, what does the creative process look like? His answer speaks to both the creative spark and the journey from nascent idea to becoming. Please consider joining me for In/Visible talks, I look forward to hearing yours.