Give It Some Time


“Eureka! I’ve found it!”

The famous phrase, as the story goes, was uttered by ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes. He had been struggling with trying to figure out how to tell if a coin maker was stiffing the king by filling coins with silver instead of gold, but wasn’t having much luck. Legend has it that he took a break from all his figuring to hang out in the public bath (it was all the rage back then), and when he saw how the weight of his body displaced the water, he got a flash of insight into the principle of buoyancy. Overcome by the revelation, Archimedes ran naked through the streets to his home to test how piles of silver and gold coins of the same weight displaced water differently because of differing volumes.

Something similar happened to Sir Isaac Newton. The famed scientist and mathematician spent his days figuring out the laws of physics, making telescopes, and developing a theory of color, but he “discovered” the law of gravity when he was just chilling under an apple tree and a piece of fruit fell on his head.

Really good design is a lot like that. Well, not the running naked in the streets part, but the rest of it. Namely, there’s work, and collaboration, and figuring, and re-figuring, and, occasionally, moments of revelation, sometimes when you least expect them. In other words, design is a process, and processes take time.

Now, designers understand that sometimes in business a need arises for a project to be done on a very tight deadline, and a professional designer will certainly work with the client to meet those requirements. But if it’s at all possible, allowing time for the figuring, re-figuring, collaboration, and unpredictable moments of insight will give the creative process the space it needs to fully unfold.

We know this from our own experience. Whether it’s something as simple as perfecting a recipe, or as involved as starting your own business, rarely does any worthwhile endeavor proceed in a completely linear fashion, without any revision or rethinking.

Time gives the creative process what breathing gives the human body. When we breathe quickly, we get enough oxygen to function, but when we allow our bodies to take slow, deep breaths, we reap greater benefits, and our bodies flourish. If we want our creative endeavors to flourish, we need to allow time for those slow, deep breaths.

What does all of this mean for that brochure or banner you want designed? Our Senior Designer, Jay, explains: “Design is…an evolutionary process filled with false-starts, multiple variations, successful directions, and yes, plenty of dead-ends. The more you play with an idea, the more you understand what it’s about, the better feel you have for where it needs to go. But you don’t have a map. You just have a gut feeling….So if you want something that does better than merely work, give your designers time to play.”

Give your designers time to play. It may sound impractical, or counter-intuitive to a business transaction. But design, because it is both science and art, taps in to something deeper, and that something deeper needs time. Time to play. Time to get lost. Time to get hit in the head with a piece of fruit. And yes, time to take a bath. After all, it worked for Archimedes.

What’s the story behind your favorite creative endeavor? We’d love for you to share it with us!

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