26 October 2019

4 Mins Read

 Kayode Olowu

Kayode Olowu

What’s In Your Junkyard?

A junkyard will be what you make it; it can be full of trash or little pockets of treasures you discover when you need them. From the stray items you come across and say “hm, interesting” to tools you find during a search for something but cannot find immediate use for, your junkyard takes them all. 

In the creative context, it can be physical [notebook or documents] or not [if you have eidetic memory]. Sometimes, you even have a mental junkyard without knowing [memories and experiences].

The quality of the ‘junk’ forms a major part of the quality of the creative ideas you have.

Kayode Olowu

Yorubas have this saying loosely translated to “…it’s what the bird eats it uses to fly” and that’s a perfect analogy for what a creative, or anybody who wishes to rise must do. While there are mountains of textbook knowledge and hacks out there promising to help you set yourself apart as a creative, you’ll only be setting yourself up for mediocrity if you don’t have what storytellers call “range”.

What experiences do you have? Or, to be succinct, what experiences have you chosen to have? Everybody lives in a bubble but some people move between theirs and others easily and with intent. The fact that you’re a designer does not mean your experiences or learning arc should be situated only within that context e.g you can broaden your horizon into architecture. Look into history. Step into the world of science and its accompanying fields. Go to dances. Take walks through your village on visits. Sometimes walk rather than ride short distances. Experience your surroundings and their components. What do you see? What can be applied? Where can you take ideas and how can you adapt them?

A large percentage of what’s done in design and art is a combination of existing works. And yes, this is a good way to learn; mimicking I mean. But when it comes to the work you submit as a testimonial of your capability, do you have something that has a depth of thought and experience?

Your junkyard is your idea generation bank and when there is nothing in there, you get to withdraw mediocrity in different forms e.g a quick look at my mental junkyard will reveal stencils and stickers on Danfo, credit roll from animated movies, my son’s colouring book, comment sections of social media platforms, dirty kitchen sink, @Sirjoancornella’s page, and other random things.

When you are deliberate about soaking in as much experience and knowledge as you can, your junkyard grows to help execute works that meet global standards. A mind that is intentional about continuous growth never gets comfortable in a comfort zone. It keeps morphing and morphing into something better. Always.

Now, dear designer, what’s in your junkyard?

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