Summer of Dreams [3] – Intentional Ignorance

I try my best, maybe too hard sometimes, to be original. It’s important to me that I avoid doing things the same way other people are doing them. The product I’m making in the video is a leather laptop case / document holding portfolio. It’s meant to fit my ASUS Zenbook and hold a few documents and a pad of paper. I put in effort to make it my own, design it my own way, and build it with largely my own methods. I won’t even pretend that it’s made “properly”, but I believe it’s made well and it is mine. Along with the leather goods, my video making methods follow the same thinking, I know they’re not proper, but they are also mine.

Of the twelve people that watched my previous couple videos a couple of them offered criticism telling me that they didn’t like the voiceover monologue element that I was trying to shoehorn into them. I want to explain my thinking on this and maybe with a couple small adjustments it will receive a little more positive review, or not, but that’s just how it goes. As I said, I’m motivated by my personal commitment to originality. If there is one thing I want to do it is make things my own. I’m not perfect, we are all influenced by the outside world, but whether I’m working on videos, projects or business, I strongly believe in breaking molds and doing things my own way. The world is already saturated with people doing things by convention, following trends, copying the ones that have already cracked the code to success before them. It is the responsibility of creatives, innovators and revolutionaries to say “F the rules” and find new ways to do things.

My products and projects won’t resonate with everyone and my video style isn’t going to be for everyone either. I’m going to continue to make changes and refinements based on both my self-assessment and the external reaction, but still it will never please everyone, and I hope it doesn’t. I don’t want to please everyone. Stuff with really wide appeal is boring. I want the people that like my work to really like it and along with that there will be discontentment from the people that just don’t feel it. This video is going to be a little different from the last and the next will be different again. I don’t have a really clear cut direction yet and building that will require an iterative process. One thing that won’t change though is that I will be doing it as much my own way as possible.

There is a flip side to the whole originality thing: We can’t just be doing things different for originality sake. I definitely get stuck in this sometimes and it’s often hard to realize from the inside when this is happening. So much of the time we have to ignore the criticism that we receive and stay true to ourselves, but there are definitely cases where external feedback shouldn’t be ignored. Maybe this is one of those times. I like what I’m doing with the videos, but I may see clearer some day in the future and realize how ignorant I was. I’m not afraid of that. I’m going to make what I feel and if it ends up being a failure I won’t regret it.

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With all this justification and rambling out of the way, I actually have a piece of advice piece of advice to roll out here: A method for developing original ideas that I want to pass it on to other people. Maybe it’s somewhat obvious, but maybe it can help some people out there that are struggling with creativity. Whenever I have a new project or genre of projects that I’m getting into I start by doing research. As everyone knows you have to start somewhere and with pretty much everything these days we start with Google and Youtube. For example, the laptop case in this video. Of course I had to start out by learning the basics of leatherworking, but even more specifically I had to get an idea of what it looks like to make a laptop case or folio out of leather. I did a quick basic search and promptly stopped searching and began working on the design.

I’m an extremely thorough researcher and planner. Anyone that knows me personally would describe me as a chronic, anxious, worrier.  If I went by my nature I would spend hours and hours looking through the various styles and designs that other people have used to produce a similar product, but in the effort to be original I choose do the bare minimum. I take a quick look at the basic shape and requirements of the design then do my best to shut down the research process. If I continue too far into the research I’ll lose track of where the ideas are coming from. If I don’t straight up steal a design, I may end up using a design I think is original, but isn’t, which would be a really disappointing fact to learn about later on.IMG_20170605_143444.jpg

This method is something I call intentional ignorance. Ok, I’ve never actually called it that, but it really is appropriate. Essentially, you collect just enough information to get a start and then figure it out yourself from there. You will be forced to solve the problems that other people have already solved, but they used either their own methods or used conventional methods and you used your own method. There are exceptions to this of course for things that may be safety related, etc. and there is no guarantee that your solutions will actually be original, but the more opportunity you give yourself to improvise the more potential you have to find new original ideas.

Going on a bit of a tangent here, this is an argument I make against the modern education system, especially in engineering. Everything we do is taught with structure and convention and we find very few opportunities for improvisation. Often, convention is an absolute requirement for the integrity of an engineer, but the ability to have an open mind to a variety of solutions is what can separate an exceptional engineer from a merely good one. Creativity is a valuable skill even in the most convention-driven professions.

I’ve watched a stupid amount of youtube videos in my life. I have way too much information and it would be really easy to simply make videos that closely mimic my inspirations. I looked at what I really enjoy and the general style of video that I would like to produce, then I thought hard about how I could do it my own way. I want to learn to make things, and making videos is included in that. As far as my content goes, I’m not an expert so I’m not going to make tutorials or how-to videos. There are already plenty of videos like that, hell I learned from them. There are people that are making far better leather goods than I am and making far better videos of it than I can ever hope to. Just check out Ian Atkinson, Nigel Armitage, Harry Rogers or Equus leather, and it is apparent that I am an amateur in both regards. If you want to learn how to do leatherwork properly I’m not the guy to come to. I’m making leather goods and I’m making videos purely on my own prerogative. If you enjoy them I really appreciate your support, if you don’t enjoy them there is limitless content out there that I’m sure you can enjoy, but I thank you for giving me a chance if you stuck around this long.

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