******Note: From time to time old posts are resurfaced. This post is from June 20, 2011. The New York Times just published a piece called It’s Not ‘Mess.’ It’s Creativity on September 13, 2013, where it’s argued that a messier work environment begets more innovative and creative work.*********
For many artists, the ability to work without constraints is necessary for the creative process. One of the things that often holds people back is their inability to make a mess. Maybe those childhood memories of parents being upset by a spilled glass of milk or a messy room manifest into a perfectionist attitude that impedes artistic disarray in adulthood. However, if you can overcome that and allow yourself to use trial and error, make mistakes, and create disorder, the end result can be a freeing of the mind and a corresponding heightening of creativity.
Take Dale Chihuly, the famous glassblower who injected the world of glass art with dramatic pieces, humongous installations, and massive doses of color. Ever since a dislocated shoulder prevented him from directly working the glass, he has communicated his visions to his team via paintings. And it is in a picture of him working on some paintings that you’ll see the messiness connection come in:
The ability to make a mess in order to create a higher level of finished product is great. The lesson for those in the map-making profession is that it is okay to start off a project however it works best for you.
Maybe you need to throw a lot of elements on to the page and move them around until you get the right look. Maybe you need to sketch out your vision on paper before using the computer. Maybe you need to make a painting that gets at the essence of the finished map you desire. Who knows, with this kind of up-front creative work maybe you’ll make as large a difference in the cartography world as Chihuly has made in the art world.
****Another update: this just out from xkcd *********