Whether it’s the painful, stabbing sting of rejection or love gone wrong, or the euphoric high of love requited with a sublime being, or the amazement a parent feels when looking at a being that they actually made, love is both a driver and an instigator to design and creativity.
All great creations seem to have love as an impetus.
Due to Olivier Blanchard’s (@thebrandbuilder on Twitter) admiration of the writer Steven Pressfield I recently read an interview in which Hemingway says that “the best writing is certainly when you are in love.”
I would say it happens equally so when you’ve lost love, or believe you have. In the movie The Social Network, it was revealed both Facebook and Napster were born from the pain of love lost. I’ve designed many websites and brand identities in a frenzy of work brought on by love gone astray, so I could relate to that a bit more than Hemingway being inspired to weave a loving tapestry with his words when enamored with a real-life leading lady. (Though I have spontaneously written odes of love in my head while doing mundane tasks like ironing, deep in a muse of the eternal mysterious.)
In the movie Like Water for Chocolate Tita is a woman deeply in love with her sister’s fiancé but forbidden to marry due to her culture and being the youngest daughter who is obligated to care for her Mother until she dies. She creates dishes of food so powerful from roses given to her by her true love Pedro, that it intoxicates guests and they all feel what she was feeling as she cooked… the pouring out of her soul that she could not express with her beloved. Love’s torture is all too real, in the moment. Take a moment to watch the act of creation and its results. You can also watch the full movie on YouTube.
At its essence, a design’s goal is to elicit feeling that will lead to action or reaction of some kind: people will be compelled to feel something or to do something based on the mere experience of a piece of paper, tactile, film or digital impression online. That really takes some work! That is why love, or love’s lasting impression, gives power and thrust to what we create in its glow or aftermath. It gives the designer the extra edge of feeling and momentum required to take nothing, or a random group of objects, and turn it into ‘something’. When you design something that moves someone, like Tita did in Like Water for Chocolate, your emotions transfer through the design to the audience. They then experience what you experienced when you created it and your job as a designer has been fruitful. When someone observes “he/she can turn nothing into something” this is what they’ve witnessed.
So what about writers block, or designers block, or musician or filmmakers block? Could it be that the block is representative of a lack of emotion in your life? Are you in love with a mate? Are you feeling connected to your family? Are you present with your friends and wrapped in the warmth of your loving friendships? Are you pining for one you are not with for whatever reason? Are you excited with passionate joy about your business? Are you enthralled with a community or team or project?
If you get in touch with your feelings or lack of them, you might find the block to creative expression will pass. Design benefits from something original – a unique sense of humor, a quirky twist, a strong, powerful point to make… so a mind expanded by love might be more capable of seeing what others aren’t and finding that element of surprise, wonder, or terror (for dark subjects) that captures attention and makes an impact.
Love, like design, is abstract – beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
What makes sense to some makes no sense to others. A commercial that makes some people laugh or cry or outraged will completely unfaze some who see it. A room design that surrounds some people with a feeling of bliss will be repulsive to others – that is the nature of design, feelings and human emotions. So the best a designer can do is strive to communicate honestly with the audience they hope to appeal to and trust that like minds will share like feelings.
What is your experience with creativity and love? Do you find yourself less inspired when not in love, or hitting more blocks when not overwhelmed with emotions of some type? Leave a note with your thoughts, and… love be on your side. 🙂
Originally published July 25, 2011 at Fresh ID