Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"A Clean Sheet of Paper"

Seth Godin just ran a riff, thought-provoking as always, akin to the suggestion I made a few weeks back about logos (basically: you can save much time and expense by giving creative professionals something - however primitive and scrawled - to work from, rather than asking them to create from a standing start). I particularly liked how he expressed this thought:
"The clean sheet of paper is amazing when it works, but involves so much waste, anxiety and pain that I have a hard time recommending it to most people"
There are pitfalls, however, to this tack, many of which were well-articulated in the comments posted beneath my three entries about logo creation. Here are the two major ones:

1. Old musician's saying: "You can't polish a turd".

If there's no meaningful creative germ (charm, inspiration, vibe, etc.) in the fodder you offer as starter material, only frustration will emerge from the effort to clean it up. Poor execution can easily be polished. But slickly executed bad ideas will never excel.

2. Even polishing requires talent

An overly literal polishing of a draft idea will still look poor. You're providing starter material and inspiration to the designer (or composer, writer, etc.), but if they don't run with it, injecting their own creativity as well as their technical skills, the result will appear flat. So you still need someone good. Or, preferably, great. 

All you can hope to shortcut is the tedious (and expensive) process of their sussing out what's in your head and getting up to speed on what you hope to convey. That process inevitably entails whipping up a long succession of perfectly good creative ideas which happen not to fit your personal bill.

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