Sunday, October 10, 2010

The blank page: Hero and nemisis.

There you are, face to face with the abominable snowman in a blizzard. Again.

Though teeming with possibility, the blank page is daunting. Horrifying, yet exhilarating. Omnipresent, but absent.

As far as the overall idea for the blank page goes, the shotgun approach works. Generate as many ideas as possible, until something stands out. Your first idea is generally not your best. 

The visual manifestation of the idea is another story. Everyone achieves this differently. My sister Janelle, who is also an art director, likes to mentally visualize a solution before anything goes on paper. We rarely sketch. More often jotting down reminders for what we were thinking or need to figure out. Our 'sketchbooks' are filled with illegible notes, clouds of symbols, and walls of words. If it were an idea-execution instruction manual, it would be highly ineffective for anyone else.

Her company project status meetings go something like this, "So-and-so is finishing up this logo, what's-his-name is starting on a campaign, and Janelle has a bunch of 'Janelle-things' going on." They usually have a general idea of what she's doing, but they let her have free reign on the details.

She is the visionary behind the ever-award-winning Petunia Pickle Bottom catalog and the Meyer May House anniversary campaign presented by Steelcase. I wanted to give her some credit since names were missing from the 2010 ADCD award book and she couldn't make the dinner.

Whether we do what we do to win awards, to deliver results, or simply to appease our inner muse – we must continue to face the blank page. It's an unrealized dream. The seed of a movement. The beginning of a revolution. Or maybe just a really cool failed-idea paper airplane en route to the recycling bin.

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