I’m suspicious of creative briefs. I don’t mean Y-fronts, but design briefs. It tends to separate the brain (all-powerful creator of ideas) from the hand (the articulate painter of pictures) – as if this was a two step, linear process. The concept is conceived. It simply needs to be articulated in a way that honours the concept.

creative briefs

But I’ve learnt that to draw is to think. What else is a sketchbook for? What feels to the all-powerful brain like a weak idea, takes root on paper and is guided by the hand into something magnificent. For as you create it, it starts telling you what it needs to become. Similarly, what feels to the all-powerful brain like a strong idea can often wither on paper. It becomes too obvious – a cul-de-sac of an idea.

Who, from words alone, call tell the strength of an idea? Do we think in pictures? No, we think in terms of things we’ve already experienced – some of which are visual. So, whilst you can garner agreement around a set of words, the pictures conjured inside the minds of individuals can be wildly different.

head and hand

I know many heads who have disconnected their hands. “I’m not a creative…” is stated alongside the description of their own idea. Or “I can’t draw” – the head having inspected their hand and realised it’s still the hand of their child self, and that its creations are scribbly and immature. “I know what to do” says the brain, taking over, logically trying to make the best of things. “I’ll draw stick figures”, telling the hand to stop misbehaving and to do what it’s told. Sound familiar?

Eddie Izzard once said that adults make terrible language learners, simply because they are not prepared to try to say something, get it wrong, and look foolish. I think drawing is quite the same.

As the hand scratches the head, so the head must encourage the hand. In truth, the hand is as good a thinker as the head…

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