“All children are artists,” Pablo Picasso famously said. “The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”
As adults, I think we often forget how creative we are, and were. I taught a cartooning class last year to my daughter’s second grade class. When I asked the class who liked to be creative, every single kid raised their hand … enthusiastically.
I was reminded of this when I taught a series of doodling workshops at the Do Lectures a couple weeks ago in Wales. Doodling is the simplest form of prototyping and idea exchange. People kept coming up to me before each class to warn me that they couldn’t draw and weren’t very creative.
We rolled out a huge sheet of butcher paper and, with a couple lessons and a little coaxing, everyone really got into it (even the ones who doubted themselves). Attendees have been sending me their doodles ever since, including this wonderful sketch note from attorney and author Neil Denny.
As Hugh Macleod once said, “we were all given the same box of crayons in kindergarten”. Yet somewhere along the line, many of us convinced ourselves that we’re not creative, particularly in a business context. That thinking limits our full potential.
Rediscovering how to doodle is one of the quickest routes to unblock creativity. My friend Sunni Brown gave this wonderful talk at TED on the power of doodling, which came out last week.
(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away a signed print of this week’s cartoon. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post. I’ll pick one comment by 5:00 PST on Monday. Thanks!)
11 CommentsJoin the Discussion
Another interesting thinker in this area is Lynda Barry. Delightful post, Tom.
I love the idea alchemy that happens so quickly with a few internet clicks; in order to process interesting info (like this) my instinct is to leave a comment… AND to doodle through the key ideas in my journal. Next webpage breakthrough: sketch note friendly comment fields?
Death by Power Point; the pain continues!
Kid B. says
Brilliant and how timely! We are gearing up for long range plans and ‘how to drive meaningful innovation for our consumers’. I’m printing this cartoon to leave inside my LRP folder. …..And, I’m also going to take my son up on his offer to experiment in our backyard with putting baking soda and vinegar in a plastic bottle to make a little explosion (Oh, and now for the legal jargon—please note: “We are professionals. Do not try this experiment!!” 🙂
I’ll add someone else to that list: Gordon MacKenzie. In his “Orbiting the giant hairball” he describes an experience similar to yours. Teaching elementary school classes, he asks the kids “who else here is an artist?” In 1st grade, everyone is. By 6th grade, the artist has pretty much been critiqued out of these kids. Hard to convince yourself, again, that you are creative.
There’s also the fear of ‘brand’. That only the creative souls in the Marketing department can do any of the creative work, so if you want something submit your request to them, add it to their ever growing to-do list and wait. Balderdash – have a go at it yourself, but for petes sake check over the brand guidelines and let them sign it off.
this cartoon and your comments are so relevant to my own experience as a creativity / creative problem solving teacher. Thanks for extending the insights by linking us to the doodling TED and the quote from Hugh MacLeod – I read his book and really enjoyed it.
Julie M. says
Love this, Tom! I watch my 5 and 7 y.o. buzzing with creativity and often wonder how to keep that going strong. Perfect timing, too, as my husband and I toyed with which font to use as he updated his resume over the weekend. Then we realized how much time we were using trying out and evaluating fonts! But also reminded us that creativity can come into play at any time.
Great comments this week, many thanks! I’m glad this one struck a chord. I love April’s suggestion for sketch note friendly comment fields! Some day, I’m sure that will happen. I also love Kid and Julie’s notes in relation to their own children. I think about that all the time as our kids get older. The key is to overcome what Angela describes from the Gordon MacKenzie book.
Throughout education and beyond, we’re taught to suppress our creative instincts. My first performance review after business school told me that I wasn’t creative. I was so conscious of following the rules, I was fearful of being myself.
This week’s print goes to Alistair. I love the point that he makes around organizational creativity. There is a reluctance sometimes to share creativity from functions that are not the traditionally the “creative” departments. Yet, creativity can and should come from everywhere.
Truida Prekel, Cape Town, South Africa says
Thanks for a great cartoon, and for interesting comments from all. I agree, to promote creativity, we need to “help” people to become like kids again, by giving them lollipops on arrival at a workshop, and using various “excursions” to get them away from the usual logic. If people are inhibited about drawing, it helps to give them scissors, glue, magazines AND coloured pens to make collages – then they often also begin drawing after a while. Or get groups to draw together. Thanks for the reminder that we need to do more of this.
I think we should get into the habit of presentations on Etch-a-Sketch. Reason being, despite having a presentation organized, rehearsed, and drilled into memory, one small bump or accident could upend it all. It’s also impossible to not be creative.
This is of course a ridiculous suggestion but I’m liking the idea of not putting too much faith into presentation style and looking for ways to purposely inject the unexpected.