Books, Design

Making ideas happen: My takeaways

[I first read this book Making ideas happen: Overcoming the obstacles between vision and reality in 2013, and since then this book has been my daily guide, often standing in as a coach for my day job. Scott wrote this book while working at Behance: “I realized that creative professionals are the most disorganized community on the planet! But they are ultimately responsible for <so many things> that bring meaning to our lives…

I saw not only an opportunity but also a responsibility to help them overcome the obstacles to make them happen

…as such I committed my professional life to organizing the creative world.” The book is guidance and wisdom on every page, but here are three of the ideas that resonated with me:

Capitalize on healthy conflict: Use disagreements to foster valuable insights that would otherwise be inaccessible. Make your creative team resilient to advocate for their perspectives while respectfully considering that of others, until breakthroughs are revealed.

Short-circuiting the rewards system: Achieving a creative vision also demands a long term focus and sustaining your energy for the long term. Scott’s recommendation is to unplug yourself from the short term reward system and the desire to the validated in the long term.

Seldom is anything accomplished alone: One idea that stood out for me was that of Dreamers, Doers and Incrementalists. Find out which one you are, and then find the right partners. Serendipity comes from differences.]

A book worth reading if you’re a senior designer or in a creative leadership role, or a design entrepreneur; whether in product or services or consulting – you’ll find it useful. Follow up with the more recent book The Messy Middle, another useful companion for building resilience, staying inspired and bringing the best of your creative self to the “hardest and most crucial part” of any project.

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Books, sketchbook

Another one from The Only Story

As I wrote the other day, The Only Story was thought-provoking, not least in the social mores that it strove to question, but also about the very banal nature of love.

I often draw in my sketchbook about the books I read, fodder for the drawing in a way. These pages were made while reading The Only Story.

Who can control how much they love? If you can control it, then it isn’t love. I don’t know what you call it instead, but it isn’t love.

The Only Story by Julian Barnes

[Finished The Only Story the new book by Julian Barnes. A tale of such unequal love, and so much pain.]

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Books, Design

Empathy, a guide for myself

When I graduated from design school, I didn’t feel equipped to be a designer in the real world. I remember that I even googled for “core skills of a designer” and found that empathy was an important skill to have, so I started to teach myself to be a more empathetic designer.

[Empathy
The hardest skill that I tried to teach myself for a decade but finally this is the book that helped, Dare to Lead by author Brene Brown. She clearly breaks down empathy into skills.
For me though the number 1 skill is to Listen. I’m so uncomfortable with silence I keep talking and forget to listen. How to listen:
1 – Hear what is being said
2 – Absorb and try to understand
3 – Respond not react

Brene Brown says the top empathy skill is Perspective taking.

“Honour people’s perspectives as truth even when they’re different from us.

Brene Brown


Become the learner not the knower. I think this is the biggest breakthrough for me — the shift in mindset from “knowing” to “learning”.

And coming to why empathy is a core skill for designers: It starts with Curiosity, Learning, Empathy, which is used throughout the design process: To understand users better, to create inclusive product experiences, to stay problem-focused, not solution-focused, to grow and learn from feedback, and to be the best coworker and collaborator you can be.
And the true test of empathy is in practising it daily until it becomes second nature. So best foot forward towards being a more empathetic designer!]

Dedicated to Raj and JD.

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art, Books, Design, List, sketchbook

2017 in Books

I read a lot, and these days I also draw about the books I read. In 2017 though, my reading didn’t feature as much in my drawings. Here are 20 from 2017 in no particular order and the drawings.

SATURDAY A day spent reading about art, design, writing.
And making drawings about them and thinking.


The Best, not in order

Feeling is crucial to understanding a work of art. “Einfuhlung” coined by Robert Vischer in 1873 is “a way of feeling oneself into a work of art,” which ultimately becomes “empathy” in English. The meaning of an object influences the feelings it evokes.

  • Re-read Redesigning Leadership (John Maeda): As always I go back to reading John Maeda’s books at crucial times in my life. I was so happy to read this book while struggling with the leadership role. I think what I liked most was another way of approaching leadership – the artistic approach which I really resonated with. This was drawn on a flight layover.

And the rest

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art, Books, sketchbook

Read a book you hate

I read a lot of books in 2017 and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was one of them. I’ve always steered very clear of psychedelic fiction, being the straight-laced person that I am, but when I received the exact same edition on two separate occasions from two very close friends, I had to finally read it.

No, this is not a good town for psychedelic drugs. Reality itself is too twisted.

All the references to the Rolling Stones’ music and The Doors’ music was quite an educational journey for me – [who] steered so clear of all this narcotic-induced visions. This could be one of those “Read a book you hate” challenges!

I remember reading it and feeling quite hot, the language was so evocative of the Las Vegas strip and hot US highways in summer, and didn’t hate it as much as I expected to.

Here are some images from Google:

From Google

Ralph Steadman and Hunter S. Thomson had met once and it hadn’t gone too well: “A year later, Steadman was asked if he’d like to illustrate another, much longer, piece of Thompson’s for Rolling Stone magazine – about a drug-crazed trip Thompson had just made to Las Vegas with his Samoan attorney….Despite never having been anywhere near Las Vegas, he set to, and four days later sent off his drawings. “I was quite pleased with them, I remember. I thought I’d managed to complement the style of Hunter’s writing.” When the drawings arrived, Thompson anxiously unrolled them. “Ye gods,” he recalled. “Every one of them was perfect.” Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was a huge hit and the two of them became friends. Under Thompson’s influence, Steadman’s work changed. “My drawing got stronger, less flaccid. He exposed me to the screaming lifestyle of the US.” But it was a friendship that came at quite a cost – to Steadman anyway.”

Have you read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas? Would love to know what you liked about it.

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Books, Design, Life, sketchbook

Reading “White” by Kenya Hara

Like I posted earlier, I read White last year and loved it. Here’s a drawing I made during that time.

white

[WHITE
Every morning I sit and drink my coffee and read a few pages of White in silence and calm, and it’s a beautiful meditative experience reading this book. I feel thankful for life and everything that is still left in this world for me to wonder at.]

Read it for the experience as well as for the content.

From the sketchbook called Captivity (Feb 2017).

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art, Books, drawing, Life, sketchbook

From Sojourns in the parallel world

A year or so ago, I used to have a morning ritual of waking up and reading some poetry with coffee. Once in a while I would read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, and during that time, I also read White by Kenya Hara. (It’s such a meditative, beautiful book, and it was rather a spiritual and other worldly experience for me.)

One of those mornings, I read this poem by Denise Levertov. Though it’s about immersing our human consciousness in the natural world, to me the last few lines evoked how we continue to voluntarily lose ourselves in the virtual world.

levertov

“No one discovers

just where we’ve been, when we’re caught up again

–but we have changed, a little.”

From the sketchbook called Finding Soo • August 2016.

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