Bob Hambly RGD reflects on the design professional's ability to see things that other's don't and how fine-tuning observational skills can enhance creative innovation and idea generation.
Excellent observational skills make us better designers—but like most things, they need practice. One hour into my very first drawing class in my freshman year at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, the instructor asked us to put down our pencils. “You all should know,” he said, “I can’t teach you how to draw.” We all sat stunned. Did we hear that correctly? He then added, “But, I can teach you how to see!”
We had been drawing a stack of wooden drafting tables that were haphazardly piled in the middle of the studio, trying to impress one another with our talent. The instructor informed us that all 24 of us spent more time looking at our own drawings than we did looking at the subject matter. And he was right. “You were drawing what you wanted to see, not what was there.” It was a memorable way to kickoff my four years of art education.