As a student heading off to college, I knew I would pursue a career in the creative arts. My parents were supportive, but my practical grandma was not so veiled in her skepticism: “At least do medical illustration.” But thankfully, some good professors showed me the expansive possibilities of creative thinking, and in the process, transformed my life.
The Spark of Creativity
My first revelation came during my introductory drawing class. Asked to submit our best work, everyone went off to draw something spectacular. At the critique I scanned the room and was excited to see that mine and fellow student Thom’s drawings were clearly the best. The professor lined everyone’s images up, offering complimentary comments: “Great emotional quality,” “Love this thought,” “Nice construction.”
Finally, she reached Thom’s and mine. “Now, what do we think about these two?”
My classmates chattered, impressed. That’s when my professor said something I will never forget.
“So they have some technical facility. Who cares? It’s just a pretty picture. Now tell me something.”
That was the first time that I realized that pictures matter. My teacher wasn’t just teaching us about technique and composition, but also about our own creative potential. She helped me realize that there was so much more to being an artist than just making pretty pictures. You could create something that had a certain power – that carried a story, a message, an emotion. It was a chance to inform, to educate, to make someone feel something.
The idea that an image can have lasting impact was new to me. Since then, I’ve come to realize the power a well-placed image can have. Show the world a tower crumbling and we recognize terrorism and vulnerability. Show the world a protestor standing up for their rights and we realize injustice that must be addressed. When you partner thoughtful words with pictures, you create a catalyst for action and change.
Problem solving through an open, creative lens becomes an exercise in seeing new possibilities and opportunity in every challenge. You have the license and freedom to explore ideas without boundaries. There is no limit on what you can create.
Opportunity in Every Challenge
That day in drawing class was a turning point for me. I realized that my role as an artist was expansive. I was on the path toward becoming a better communicator.
We can now share stories through words and pictures in ways I could never have imagined. As new technologies emerge and the media landscape continues to evolve, there is an increasing need to creatively address challenges with originality, innovation, and functionality. Bringing that skillset to our clients has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life – both personally and professionally!