In this post I will show you how you can increase your productivity 10x and get to better results faster in any creative discipline. We'll uncover the essence of perseverance and the iterative process in the realm of design and creative problem-solving.
We are all grownups here: We know the secret to success in the creative industry does not rely on the genius, or the talented, or even the...well genius. The secret is really that the ones that want to solve the design problem the most, and by want, I mean, REALLY want the thing, they will solve it. At any cost.
The Importance of Persistence in Design
When facing a creative problem, the designer that manages to create more value per output, is the one that will get closer to success. Design is a process of discovery, you will start doing something, and it will not match what you have in your head, so you need to iterate over and over until you start discovering that little seed, that little thread that you need to pull until you figure out what that thread is.
It is in the repetition, in the exploration and in the discovery that you will find what tool, technique or driving force actually starts to multiply the output. That is for example, the essence of style.
The Significance of Style
Style is a set of choices and decisions that are repeated over and over forming a pattern that is recognizable and over time, it starts to mature its coherence.
The Dual Approach to Problem-Solving
The formula is on one side understanding the problem and on the other side trying to brute force a solution, eventually you will manage to marry both. The more experienced a designer you are -more library, more tools, more skills- the faster you will transform overclocking your brain and trying to bash through a problem, but everything starts on those two energy demanding edges.
Application of Principles Across Creative Disciplines
Here is the thing, that principle can be applied from developing a custom set of brushes, to drawing circles in order to learn how to draw basic shapes and also if you want to learn anatomy in order to complement the foundations, and you manage to repeat this every day until it becomes second nature, then you will start finding solutions faster.
This happens also when you are trying to solve hyper complex design problems, in real time for example, working on a landscape or an environment, you need to understand your foliage brushes, distances, landscape design, scale, composition, etc. Then in order to get to a perfect frame, you need to go through hundreds of iterations.
In concept art, usually before starting drawing, people do thumbnails, and they do sheets of dozens of them until they find that seed of what they are looking for.
Same applies to character design, character designers go through many iterations until they find the right curves, the right colors, the right expressions, etc.
With photography its the same thing.
The Art of Discarding
Bear with me with this one... In philosophy, via negativa is used to explore the nature of existence and reality. It emphasizes the limitations of human language and understanding when it comes to describing complex or abstract concepts. By focusing on what something lacks or what it is not, philosophers aim to clarify the boundaries of what can be known or defined.
We judge design, by what its not, and so, we try to define what it is, since designing is bringing something useful into this world (serving a commercial purpose then digital design has intrinsic value), we poke, challenge and stress test design and see where it fails.
Some designers value their work too much. They believe that their output is something that comes from the gods, and treat their work. But its the other way around, you can create divine work only if your decisions translate to an end result that solves the design problem.
Therefore, like evolution, the strongest designs, meaning the ones that are judged by stakeholders, will eventually be challenged, morphed and adapted to fit that particular need that the design is trying to fulfill.
Therefore, you have to get used to discarding your work, to try millions of iterations until you learn something, until you find something that is useful not to satisfy your ego, but to solve the business problem and provide value.
The Path to Infinite Productivity
You cannot brute force your way without an intellectual understanding of a problem, but the secret, in the end is not too complicated. Start. That is 50% of the battle, then keep going, repeat, try something else, repeat again, gain confidence and speed, iterate as much as you can and have as many options as possible, have a backup plan and be a master of your craft. Be open to examine your work, as if you were an ice cold judge, poke holes and challenge it, be brutally honest with yourself and make sure that the only thing you are mostly aware of is your own ignorance. If you ruthlessly apply this principle to every single stage of the process, no matter how small, it will mathematically push you forward in your discipline.