The gap


In their book 'Made to stick', Chip and Dan Heath explore the principles of making ideas stick in the mind of your customers, clients, prospects, students etc...

One of the stories is about a teacher trying to teach their students about the rings of Saturn. Of course no one knows exactly what the rings are made of although there are many theories floating around.

In order to make his lesson stick, the authors argue that the main technique used by the teacher is to purposefully create a gap in the knowledge of the students, only to be able to make them curious about the answer. Once the gap is made and the students curious, he simply has to close it by giving them the answer.

This made me wonder. It stroke a chord in relation to what I do, and the idea of creating a gap and then filling it.

If you're a 3D designer (a modern one), one of the main challenges you face when it comes to ideas is how you visualise them. The tools you use are irrelevant. However,  how big a gap you create in the minds of your clients or even your colleagues (if you have any) is a crucial element in relation to your creative solution.


I've observed this process many a times and the one thing I believe makes or breaks a creative solution is the gap. If you only create a sense of what you're thinking (call it a mood), then the gap is too big. Add a simple hand sketch and you reduce the gap. Make a 3D visualisation of it with colours and materials and you close the gap even more. These are all fine approaches but the crucial question is : based on your solution and your knowledge of the client, how much gap do you need in order to be able to successfully close it once your client gets excited about the direction you're taking to the solution. Doing a hyper realistic render with all the details of your solution may be way too much and therefore the gap is non existent. So your solution clearly stands the risk of being rejected because naturally, people (in general) love to be surprised. If they aren't, they're not impressed, no matter how much information you give them.

So this idea of the gap, I believe, is quite important, especially if the goal is to persuade, inform or impress.

Repetition is the key...

 'Repetition is the key to success'.


This phrase is the standard explanation for anyone who wants to become an expert at anything. I noticed it again recently on a creativity blog. Only this time, it caught my attention as I began to cross examin it against what I do . As a 3D designer, I  digitally manipulate physical elements for a living. Putting together something that looks impressive in this very competitive field often requires an original approach. An approach that usually makes a difference between average and professional work. It doesn't seem like the phrase 'repetition is the key to success' applies here, because every project requires a new approach.


To get better at their craft, rappers don't rap the same songs over and over. They need to continually invent new raps. That's incredibly hard to do consistently. That's creative.


In my field for example, what generates expertise is deliberate practice. You simply cannot become an expert unless you put in the incredibly exhausting hours in, just to understand the intricacies of dealing with a large amount of variables (lighting, materials, form, colour,  texture, depth, composition etc...) all at the same time. What's more , these elements keep evolving. New materials emerge, new ways of lighting a room are created etc... As a result, most 3D designers give up in the effort to keep up with the cutting edge in their field. So you simply cannot repeat the same thing over and over again, especially in creative fields. However you do need a huge amount of deliberate practice.

So the phrase 'repetition is the key to success' needs to be taken with a grain of salt


Deliberate practice sharpens skills, and you need cutting edge skills in most creative fields. You cannot be the person with the fancy ideas expecting others to execute them anymore. Don't get mad at me, that's just the way it is.

In conversation: expectations

Somewhere in London, 2003.



* ... If you could please take one and pass them on, thank you.


*This is the outline of the course, briefly explaining all modules and what you're going to be up to for the next 3 years...


*How did I get my first job? Good question; I got lucky to be honest with you. On my last day, as I was packing my stuff, a guy walked up to me an said "hey I just saw your work, it's pretty good, are you looking for a job?"And that's how I started...


*So what does it mean to be an interior designer.... It means you'll be the lucky person who will be able to tell others what and how to make the things you draw. Pretty cool isn't it? ...


**[whispers] This guy's crazy

*** [whispers] I know ...