words among

Sunday, May 25, 2008

daily drawings

when I started my job at mophie, one of the first suggestions I made to my boss was to implement 'daily drawings', which meant that everyone had to draw at least one picture each day. I didn't think it would consume too much time, and I thought it would help our work in a number of ways. The work we were doing was extremely creative, in the sense that we were building a lot of almost-tangible things out of thin air. We were producing not only artwork and code but the laws of a community and a new economy. Because of the relatively high pressure and seemingly huge consequences of getting it right, I thought it would be great to spend time each day doing work that was essentially zero-pressure. Working on our doodling and looking at our coworkers' could also stimulate some new ideas for visual designs or data structures.

Our work was heavily reliant on prototyping, then progressively adjusting and enhancing. Having the courage to create something at your top speed and show it to people immediately was something I knew would be important for me to work on. Reflection had its place in our work as well, but I think it would have been easier to reflect on our designs if we had more alternatives in mind to compare them with. Best of five is sometimes a different thing than best of two. There were a few things I did to try to get myself working at top speed, but I wasn't really able to do so most of the time. Often I felt that I wasn't getting the type of help from my coworkers that I needed. For example, when I suggested daily drawings, my boss agreed to let me do it. But he never told anyone else to try it, and he never reminded me about it. He did get me a coloring book, but there's a big difference between coloring and drawing. Several of the other employees were drawing things almost every day as part of their work, but I thought it wouldn't be too much to ask to have each one draw something on paper and hand it in every day. One day my boss did indulge my request to go to the art store and get markers, pens, colored pencils, crayons, and some reasonably nice ones at that. They made their way into use at the design table, and I used them to mark up some books so the other guys could find the important stuff (a lot of computer books have just one important line per page). I did drawings from time to time but never close to every day.

A lot of the drawings I do are just abstract scribbling, so it's not difficult or involved stuff. I should start daily drawings. Feel free to join me.