Design Ranch is a retreat hosted by AIGA Austin in the heart of the Hill Country. The focus of the retreat is not to learn the latest tips and tricks of Photoshop or how to use social media to market yourself. Instead it’s about getting messy, crafty, soaking up the sun, making friends and reconnecting with your creative side.
As in 2009, I participated as a volunteer. The DR Board is a wonderful group of folks. The volunteers and the attendees rounded out the event - charming and fun people all around.
I attended several workshops but the one I was most excited about was Keri Smith's Mess: A Workshop of Accidents and Mistakes. If you haven't heard about Smith, she is an artist, illustrator and writer of several books - “Wreck Your Journal,” “This is Not a Book,” “How to Be an Explorer.” Her workshop asked the attendees to:
Do not try to make something beautiful.
Do not think too much. (There is no “wrong.”)
Continue under all circumstances.
As creatives, and humans, doubt and fear plague us in our endeavors. It’s important to not be consumed by trying to be perfect. You have to play and make mistakes to grow as an artist/designer/you fill in your career of choice. These are simple but powerful ideas she talks about it. Being perfect in the end only hampers you and can stop you from pursuing a dream or goal because you are not quite where you want to be.
Keri Smith was charming and began the workshop with an introduction about her process. Buddhism has clearly shaped her process in a lot of ways. The important take home points were:
Embrace discomfort for growth
Learn to be ok with nervousness
Live a great life (as defined by you)
Creativity is a disciplined act. Do it every day!
Keep a journal
In so many ways, her words mirrored a lot of what I’ve been doing in my life. Thanks Keri!
“In a simplistic way, when you go past a forest and you look at it and you say, ‘that looks just like Cézanne.’ And you realize Cézanne has made you see the reality of the forest in a way that you never could have seen before. He’s made you attentive.”—Milton Glaser
“But I have never yet, in the experiments I have made, met with a person who could not learn to draw at all; and, in general, there is a satisfactory and available power in every one to learn drawing if he wishes . .”—The Elements of Drawing by John Ruskin p. 4