The best part of going to art school is learning that there are ten billion solutions to every problem. Every solution has its pros and cons, some focus on solving the problem at a basic level, others take things a step or two, or twelve, further. Some try and appease the masses, others focus on a select few. Some look lovely at first glance, but are not user friendly…others seem plain, but are extremely well thought out and very user oriented. The best solutions take all of these points in mind.
When you graduate art school you miss the problem solving, you miss the chase. You miss the magic of showing up to a crit…presenting solutions for the problem at hand. You sit in awe at the mind boggling ideas you never even considered. You miss the back and forth, you miss the discussions, the constructive advice, the energy you get from other creative souls.
My son was feeling this way last summer. He and my husband, two of the most creative people on earth, are constantly talking movies, podcasts, books, plays; they dissect, they explore, they critique. They are creators. After spending a week running a film camp at Fire Island together, our son was heading back to California, he said. Dad, do you want to do a joint project as our Christmas gift to each other this year? Considering my husband hates gift buying, wants for nothing, and loves nothing more than working on projects, this sentence was like a gift from above. They decided to make a chess set, each designing pieces for a common board. The size of the grid was all the information they had to go on…ready, set, create.
Christmas at our house is usually pretty over the top. Too many presents, stockings spilling over, regular gifts not to be confused with Santa gifts, much too much. This past year we decided to take it back a notch…or thirty five. We awoke and went to the living room for present time. Goodies for noshing on the table, cups of warm coffee, the room filled with colorful boxes and twinkling lights. All wearing our Christmas themed llama pajamas, we looked appropriately adorable in our soft and yummy hoodies with ears. It was chill and lovely. Saving the best for last, it was time to open the chess set…what did they create, how did they make it, how would the other react. Truth be told, I saw both solutions before that morning. Olivia and I were in charge of painting the chess board (the graphic designer in me completely loving taping off perfect squares). I knew the beauty in those tiny packages, they did not.
As they opened each chess piece they examined the other, two completely different solutions. One, wood carved into beautiful semi-realistic forms, painted in a representational manner, two toned, deliberate and detailed. The other, also carved wood, but from the mind of a gamesman with mid-century modern taste. Each streamlined piece had holes in it, representing the pieces’ movements…some holes went all the way through, that piece could move as many spaces as it wanted…some holes were just indents, that piece moved only one space. Two different solutions to exactly the same problem. Two minds. Two bits of spectacular. Listening to them talk, watching them appreciate the other…it was pure swoon.
These days we live in aMErica…note the ME in there…always a designer, I tend to turn every word into a logo. First I had it as amerIca, that works too. Anyway, you get the point. We live in the country of me me me…where the solution to problems are not based on fact, or exploration, or the masses…solutions are based on how they benefit the individual wants of those in charge at the moment. There are ways to solve the huge issues in our country right now…a puzzler’s dream. If people would stop only thinking about their needs…and consider all the players…solutions could be found.
Until aMErica becomes America again, we are in big trouble. Kind of like if one of the guys creating the chess set decided they wanted the King to be a cat and thought adding a pig would be cute…all of a sudden the set is all about them…and not about making it work for all.