Jenn and I love sports. There’s nothing quite like sharing a Saturday night hooting and hollering at the TV with your wife. It is captivating to watch world-class athletes perform complexed physical feats by harnessing the tools of their trade.
Odell Beckham, Jr. is one such superhuman. Speed – check, quickness – yep, hands – you bet; his measurables are off the charts. But he’s not the tallest, fastest or quickest; and God knows he doesn’t have the greatest quarterback. (Sorry, Eagles fan here). No question he’s talented, but so is every other guy in the league. What separates him?
In the days after his famous 3-finger touchdown, the media did a piece that showed him practicing acrobatic one-handed catches during his pregame preparation. It went on to share that OBJ has enormous hands and that he regularly performs the technique during weekday practices. That catch didn’t happen by accident, or because he’s a genetic freak. It was the intersection between talent and craft that created something unequivocal, inspiring awe in fans and emulation by peers.
As much as we love sports, art is our first love. From “Fixer-Uppers” to “Forged in Fire”, Jenn and I are creative junkies and we’ll get our fix just about anywhere. No matter the medium, we draw inspiration from observing skilled artists create work of superior balance, complexity and visual sophistication. As full-time creative professionals, there is a deep appreciation for the level of dedication required to master a craft.
A higher aesthetic.
I’ve heard it said in creative circles that we are so inundated with information today, that simplicity has become a necessity. However, the longer I’ve been a creative, the more I believe it’s become an excuse to ignore craft.
It reminds me of the critiques we had years ago in art school. Everyone would work on a project for several weeks and then we’d meet and display our work. It was a chance for each student to present and allow the class to ask questions and give feedback. Without fail, every class had a few students that would habitually throw something together at the last minute and attempt to explain the flaws as intentional. It also never failed that they were obliterated by their peers. Why? Because they didn’t care enough to show up, stay late, or come in the off hours to develop their craft. As a result, even the greatest concepts were doomed by poor execution.
When things break down.
Basic understanding of tools and process are adequate, but if you work at it long enough something will break down. The company website will get hacked, thunderstorms will force you to shoot the wedding inside, a lucrative account will ask for a custom design on an impossible deadline. Anybody can do an average job when things are perfect, but when the stakes are high and things go sideways clients need a higher level of resourcefulness, creativity and innovation. When it counts there’s no room to guess or postpone until you’ve had time to consult Google.
Talent is cheap.
Commitment to craft seems to be declining in many creative fields as drag-and-drop websites, design free-ware, $5 logos, stock art services and consumer grade cameras have saturated the marketplace. The result are talented creatives so reliant on automation and technology that they neglect to develop deep knowledge of their disciplines. Web designers that don’t code, photographers that can’t light and designers that rely solely on stock art services continue to unintentionally push creativity towards commodity.
Many of our readers aren’t artists or craftsmen, but this concept of craft is universal. Case in point: Numbers have NEVER been my thing so I find it difficult to wrap my mind around creativity in accounting. But I know that there is an art form buried in there because I’ve heard the passion in my eldest sons’ voice when he shares the intricacies of his major.
The key to fulfillment in any field is development of craft. It’s the place where intimate knowledge of tools and process seamlessly identify and inform creative solutions by giving voice to natural talent.
Agree or disagree? Please take a minute to share your thoughts. Dialogue helps us all grow.