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The Perfect is the Enemy of the Ish

14 Jan

I can’t draw. I’ve never been able to. But, one day back in elementary school, I got lucky. I drew a horse, and it actually looked like a horse! It was glorious.

But the tail wasn’t quite right. So I erased that part and tried again. But that one small revision screwed up the horse’s hind legs. So I erased them and re-drew that part too. This time the entire back half of the horse was smudged so I was forced to continue with what soon became an entire overhaul of my once beautiful steed.

By the time I was done fixing its tail, my horse – to this day the only good drawing I recall producing in my ENTIRE life – was destroyed.

I wish I’d read Ish before I drew that horse.

Let me explain.

Before I left for Vegas and CES, my wife told me to be sure to bring back a souvenir. I was at a loss – there is just nowhere in my son’s room to hang the framed picture of my lapdance! Luckily, at the Social Media Club‘s party on my last night at the conference, I met Peter H. Reynolds.

CES, Lenovo, Peter H. Reynolds, FableVision, education, learning, software, technology, toys, Etch-a-sketch, 80s, pop culture, funny, parenting, kids, children, drawing, animationPeter H. Reynolds is (from his website): a “children’s book author, illustrator, bookshop owner, founder of FableVision… and an advocate for creativity and children of all ages.” He was at CES to demonstrate a new version of his Animation-ish software that comes pre-loaded onto with Lenovo’s upcoming Horizon table PC.

Remember the Etch-a-Sketch Animator? It came out around 1986 and boy did I want that toy! I was dying to make the animated movies out of my Etch-a-Sketches that this commercial made look so easy.

Unfortunately, using the toy was less like “playing” and more like “working in an animation sweat-shop.”

Basically a “high-tech” flip-book, it required that you draw something with an Etch-a-Sketch (good luck!) then duplicate that drawing multiple times, with slight variations in each new version. Seeing as it takes four months to make a convincing stick figure with an Etch-a-Sketch, this process took ten years and the ability to withstand carpal tunnel. But once accomplished those steps, provided you still had time now that you were in college getting your official degree in masochism, then you had to save your drawings via the primitive little computer within the toy and, eventually, animate your collection into a five-second movie. Presumably about stick figures.

FableVision’s software works the same way as the Etch-a-Sketch Animator except, thanks to the ongoing trend towards touch screens, kids can use their fingers instead of those hellish little knobs. Combined with the Horizon’s enormous screen it makes for a much easier, and infinitely more enjoyable, experience. Even if you can’t draw. Peter H. Reynolds, Ish, FableVision, CES, Lenovo, art, books, drawing, learning, children, kids, family, parenting, Horizon, Vegas, Etch-a-Sketch

As made clear in his book, Ish, Reynolds’ philosophy on art and creation is quite forgiving. The emphasis is on the act and joy of creating, not on the result, so inspiration and enjoyment count for more than exactitude and replication. Art isn’t about getting it right; this isn’t math. Art is about getting it “right-ish.” To this once-frustrated horse-drawer and current father, that sounded like a great lesson for my son, and one I wish I’d learned as a kid: “The perfect is the enemy of the good ish.”

So I decided to bring home a copy of Ish as his souvenir, personally signed by the author with a cute little drawing beside his autograph.

Maybe if I had read the book as a child I would have ended up with a drawing I could be proud of. But I didn’t.

I mutilated that little horse so badly that by the time I was finished there was nothing left but glue.

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5 Responses to “The Perfect is the Enemy of the Ish”

  1. Danielle January 14, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    In primary school I hated my art teacher. She was cranky and looked like an old, chubby fortune teller. But she said one thing, and one thing only that I remember and that has stuck with me for life: “In art there is no such thing as a mistake, only a design change”. Now my creative outlet is sewing, and I try to keep that philosophy with me 🙂

  2. blowingoffsteamandmore January 14, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

    I can’t draw a stick figure with a crayon, forget with an Etch-a-Sketch. I am thanking my parents for stopping me at the conventional Etch-a-Sketch so I didn’t grow up with a complex bigger than the one I already have.

  3. post post modern dad (@ppmdad) January 15, 2013 at 11:34 am #

    I hated all versions of the Etch-A-Sketch. Torture.

    Sounds like a good book for the artistically frustrated.

  4. Anonymous January 15, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

    Peter and I just savored every word in your new post – WOW. You totally get it. As soon as Peter started reading to me – mentioning the challenged horse drawing – I remembered you at the party! Thanks so much for the spot-on capture of Peter’s mission – and the message of ISH. You nailed it. It would make a GREAT Huffington Post article – have you thought of submitting it? — Paul

    • Elyor March 16, 2013 at 7:23 am #

      Hi there! This tutorial looks like it’s a nice one, but it does not work for a deaf ivddniiual. Written tutorials are better suited, but no one wants to take the time to do that. Oh well!

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