Searching for Value in Ludicrous Ideas

When’s the last time you came up with 55 ideas … about anything? 

Inventor and artist Steven M Johnson tells Allison Arieff (By Design columnist for The New York Times) how he does it…

Since I have had no budget constraints (and after the mid-1990s‚ when I was paid for doing this kind of thinking, no budget at all), I have it easy. I can get stuck at the “ideate” stage and spin my tires all day. I have the luxury of never having to go from ideation to choosing. Even for me, choosing which idea to draw in finished form is somewhat random, and for every finished drawing I must have around a dozen rough ideas that simply were filed away in a folder, forgotten.

Do real designers have such a luxury to forever wallow in the ideate stage? Of course not. But someone once described to me that there was a tendency among employees to cut short the idea process‚ be content with a few ideas, and then quit thinking. But I think, “Is it the employee’s fault?” The need for practicality is always implied in any work project: “My boss will get angry if I spend all day doodling.”

Really, I have a native gift of drawing, which‚ when coupled with some skills in thinking imaginatively, gives me the ability to depict possible outcomes.

read the full interview over at designmind.


Steven M. Johnson’s forthcoming book: What The World Needs Next: The Inventions and Predictions of Steven M. Johnson.

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