The article from BBC News featuring ex-Pixar chief Ed Catmull, who happens to be blind in his mind’s eye, has illuminated several assumptions we make about creativity and the creative process.
Catmull is quoted here saying we all go about the creative process in different ways. Tell us about your creative process. What is your way?
I work I sheet metal manufacturing, dealing with CAD drawings etc.
I find I can draw in my mind as if it’s a CAD program, connecting lines, assembling parts, and rotating things in any direction. But the slate is quickly wiped clean if I don’t draw it out on paper.
Also this pretty much only works with straight lines, curves and organic shapes have always been hard for me.
How unimaginative for people to assume that there is only one way to imagine! I don’t see anything in my mind, but I certainly imagine. My imagining is mostly kinesthetic. I can feel the shapes of things and places, and even of colours. I conceptualise 3D plans of art projects in my head before I create them, examining the way they will work from every angle, and inside and out. I make all sorts of things, like small electronic gadgets, automatons, animation machines, but also sewing projects, and all of these are first imagined in my mind as interactive, movable objects I can feel, touch, rotate and crawl inside.
Instead of seeing these things, it is more like feeling how things move in space, similar to the way you feel your own body move in space, even when you have no image of what that would look like at any given time (or maybe you always have that image?). Similarly, I cannot ‘picture’ people known to me as static, isolated individuals in my mind. Instead, I feel how they feel about and relate to everything and everyone around them, and vice versa. (Or how I perceive them to feel and relate of course – I might be wrong!) It is always dynamic. A visual image actually seems a tad shallow to me, in comparison, if that is all someone is capable of imagining in his head.
I think I "feel" ideas, rather than see them. A couple of years ago I started painting. I was always put off before because I never considered myself to be a very visual person. But I broke through that barrier, and decided to do it anyway, and actually I don’t find it a problem at all. I think out a painting, then do a very rough sketch, and then just splosh the paint on the paper, watch it drown, and show off my masterpiece to anyone who doesn’t run away fast enough. I really don’t think you need to form visual images to be creative. I think we just do it more efficiently, leaving out an unnecessary part of the process.
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