In the beginning
We had a team-building outing recently – complete with food, pop culture trivia and some really easy Easter egg hunting. One of the best parts of the day for me was when we all stopped to draw. We had a super-awesome-monster-deluxe box of 2 billion crayons (Okay, technically it was probably "only" 96 crayons. But think back to when you were a kid – that huge box of crayons sure LOOKED like it had 2 billion colors!), literally 100 odd-colored pencils and blank paper.
Something about the simplicity of the tools – the innocent, instantly recognizable smell of crayons; the curved, less-than-letter-size pieces of paper – made the experience resonate with me. What made it even more special was the fact that 15 of my co-workers were looking thoughtfully at their own pieces of paper, reaching for that special color to start with.
Artists have to make friends with blank paper or canvas, an open mic, blank film or clay that's still shaped like the box it came in. Beginning is breaking, in a way. It's disturbing a silent (boring?) symmetry. It's causing change. I used to play violin, and one of my conductors would always tell the orchestra to be present for every note, because once it's played, it's gone, and it will never come back or be heard the same way again.
There's some parallel between that idea and making the first mark – whether it's pen on paper or beginning a story (What, exactly, happened once upon a time?), paint on canvas (Is the sky always on top? Always blue?), or moving from creative notes and sketches (File > New InDesign Document; File > Place … place what? Where? Why?) to a finished ad that engages, stimulates, and delivers the beginning (There's that word again!) of what our audience is looking for.
Our next team-building exercise is already being planned – it's going to focus on creativity as well. I can't wait.