Process=Product

Published: May 16th, 2011 by Ryan M.



These days, it seems like we’re bombarded with products whose sole purpose is to move life faster.

Take coffee, for example.

I’m too young to remember, but I bet that when drip coffee makers came onto the market, people were blown away by the ease of use. No more boiling water on the stove! Then came a certain retailer who brought good coffee to the eyes and tongues of the masses, in a convenient to-go cup. Next came their instant coffee, supposed to be “just as good” as what you’d get at their coffee shop.

At this point, how much more time can we save?

Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for efficiency but personally, I see something being lost in our rush for results. I think we’re losing our connection with the process of creation. We’re forgetting the tangible sensation and satisfaction of making something. Instead, we just consume.

This is why I draw.

When I pick up my pencil, I start by drawing basic shapes. Then I flesh these shapes out into whatever they’re supposed to be: a face, an arm, a car, or a building. Then I go back and thicken some lines, scribble here to indicate shading and light, and think about how to highlight what’s important. After this, it’s time to really polish things up, do some fine shading and fix lines. And this doesn’t mean I’m done. I may get out another piece of paper, slap it on top of my drawing, go to my lightbox, and redo the whole thing.

Something happens when I slow down and immerse myself in this process. Psycologists call it being in a “flow state.” I just know that it’s when I’m most creative, and I find that happy mistakes often occur — like when I wind up drawing something other than what I intended, but it looks great anyway.

Going through such a time-consuming process when I’m drawing may seem tedious, but I believe that it’s an essential part of the creative process. It helps me connect with what I’m creating, care about it, and feel like I’m part of it.

Designing a website isn’t much different.

I start by drawing squares and circles on a page, carefully deciding where text, images, and buttons should go, according to the client’s needs. I may end up doing this three or four times until I find what’s right for the job. Then it’s onto choosing fonts, colors, and images, all the while keeping in mind the site’s audience and purpose.

I constantly hear people say that they’re “passionate about their work.” I don’t think this can really be understood until you yourself are passionate about something. As designers, we need passion. We need to feel connected to our work.

That’s accomplished by giving the process of creation the time it needs. Only then can we create something that we’re proud of — and something that our clients will be proud of too.

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