Creative + Co-Pilot

What I've Learned From Teaching as an Adjunct Professor This Year

The Power of Lead and Process


The more I write on this blog, the more I realize I keep leaning toward things I wish I'd known going into the workforce out of college. There are so many failings I felt I could have salvaged some dignity from had I just followed a few tips going into it.

I always come back to the power of sketching. As a professor at the college level, I'm continually encountering students who say, "I can't draw well. I'm just going to start digitally," without any process implemented. (To which I reply, "I don't give a shit. Draw.") They let the fear of their drawing ability blind them from the importance of the ideation and iteration process. Move your damn pencil. In college I felt like my skills on the computer were enough to compensate for my lack of illustration capabilities. But...I was thinking about about it completely wrong. I didn't need to draw more often to become a better illustrator. I needed to draw more often to get my ideas out, to figure out my layout and composition and to show clients and art directors which direction I wanted to take a project without having to fully execute it.

Not only does the sketching and comp phase of a project help align your team and client, it provides you the opportunity to have an idea killed early. Having a direction killed is not a bad thing! It's part of the process and will push you forward toward a better solution. Instead of investing all of your time into one direction without feedback, work through a bunch of sketches and get feedback early and often. 

I had my ass handed to me on multiple occasions during my internship at Chen Design in 2011, all deservedly so. It was not for lack of effort or time put in, it was more for not sketching enough, producing efficiently or staying true to the design process. (Plus I was super insecure working with so many talented folks) I remember the month leading up to my move to SF. I had decided to take a break from making anything substantial to get there fresh and full of life. Man did that backfire, it was like I had never drawn anything in my life!

Whether you are a carpenter, industrial designer or photographer, there is nothing more crucial to the creative process than the foundation of drawing. So keep your pencils and brains moving and it'll make your transition into the professional world that much more seamless.



Stephen Jones