Sketchplanations

Explaining one thing a week in a sketch

Sketchplanations

Explaining one thing a week in a sketch

Replicate then innovate - Sketchplanations

Replicate then innovate

When it comes to innovating, counterintuitively, I think the surest way to producing something new and noteworthy is to start by replicating work you admire. If you're making music, first play the music from your favourite artists, then make music like theirs, and only when you've mastered that do you need to go your own way. If you admire Hemingway, practice writing like him and your own voice will likely develop by itself. Before helping develop cubism Picasso was first an accomplished artist. It's easy to look at the best and think you have to be different. But standing up first makes it easier to stand on the shoulders of giants. What's more, copying is much lower pressure. Replicate, then innovate. Order a print — I learned this idea while working at Jump Associates
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Looking under the lamppost - Sketchplanations

Looking under the lamppost

It's an old economists' joke. A person out walking at night comes across a man scrabbling on the floor under a lamppost. The man on the floor says he lost his keys. When asked when he dropped them he then replies, "Oh, I dropped them over there, but the light's better here." It's an apt metaphor for how, if we're really honest with ourselves, sometimes we find ourselves working, or searching, or staying in the places where we find it easier rather than the places where we know we ought to be. Order a print
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The blind and the elephant - Sketchplanations

The blind and the elephant

It's an old, old Eastern story about some blind men who encounter an elephant. As the blind make sense of what each feels it's also a memorable illustration of how our own views are shaped by our subjective experience and, as so often, that we don't see the full picture. In various versions the men may argue over what it is, convinced they themselves must be right, or collaborate to identify the elephant together. Most of our experience is somewhat like this. We rarely see the whole truth. When we stay humble and accept others' experience we give ourselves the chance to learn a little more. Order print
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Labyrinths and mazes - Sketchplanations

Labyrinths and mazes

There's a crucial, and wonderful, distinction between mazes and labyrinths. A maze is a multi-branching, complex structure with twists, turns, choices, dead-ends and treasure or Triwizard cups in the centre. It's confusing, daunting, exciting, fun, challenging, maybe deadly. A maze heightens awareness, concentration, and your heart rate. A labyrinth has a single path. One long, twisting, but unwavering path towards the central destination and back out. It's simple, calming, straightforward, reassuring and satisfying. Every step is progress. There are no tough choices to make. No paths, maps or mental models to balance in your head. Nothing to intrude on your thinking, just your next step. A labyrinth gives space for your thoughts, and is calming and peaceful. If you want adventure and action, find a maze. If you'd like calm and contemplation, find a labyrinth. No wonder then that walking a labyrinth has been found to reduce stress, increase calm and aid recovery in hospitals and centres for therapy and mental health care. Try tracing your finger over the paths of each to feel the difference. Also see: solvitur ambulando. — The two are based on the hedge maze at Henry VIII's Hampton Court Palace near where we live, and the wonderful Land's End Labyrinth (video) near where we used to live. The original labyrinth of Crete, of Theseus and the Minotaur fame, was complex and confusing and no doubt not like the labyrinths that have now evolved from it. — Order a print
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