|Sketching on Chartres Street, New Orleans|
It started innocently enough. After leaving corporate urban design practice and a tenured university faculty position to pursue a number of exciting, creative endeavors, I realized it was time to order new business cards. Deciding what to put on those cards to describe what I do had me completely bamboozled. Artist? I've never been very comfortable with that. Urban designer? Not broad enough. Author? Educator? Speaker? Traveler? (A look at my calendar page confirms that I spend more time traveling than in any other activity.)
There was some truth to each label. And yet each was more true as part of the aggregate rather than as a solitary descriptor. My "work" touched on all these areas. So what's the essence of the work? What do I do?
Thinking of my career as process of discovery freed me to look beyond arbitrary divisions between art, design and professionalism, and to claim them all as aspects of a full, creative life. This feels good. I'm going to roll with it for now.
When seeking, it's helpful and comforting to find signposts along the way. I particularly enjoyed this quote by Glenn Murcutt, the brilliant Australian architect who was awarded AIA's Gold Medal in 2009, when asked why he considered drawing so important:
"We are taught that creativity is the most important thing in architecture. Well, I don't believe that. I think that the creative process leads to discovery, and discovery is the most important thing. I'm suggesting that any work of architecture--as opposed to merchandise--has the potential to be discovered, and drawing is the key."