I was reading through some old interviews with Paul Rand before our first class, and I came across the following stunner. This was taken from an interview at MIT between John Maeda and Mr. Rand:
JM: "What are the fundamental skills of a designer?"
PR: "The fundamental skill is talent. Talent is a rare commodity. It's all intuition. And you can't teach intuition."
The first thought that popped into my head? Wow, what bullshit.
Yes, you can't directly teach intuition, but you can foster it in indirect ways. That is the function of the 80 Works class. I can't lecture you in how to increase your intuition. However, I can provide you with situations that you'll experience and tools that you can adapt to your working process over time. Then your talent will teach you what it needs, through the process of ideating and making. As a result, your intuition will begin to shine through and your inner critic will have to quiet down. Being in the moment, doing the work, and moving on with detachment.
Students in my first class called 80 Works for Designers "Design Acrobatics," and for good reason. We will often find ourselves on the trapeze, flying through the air in the midst of a difficult project, hoping that we'll be able to catch the hands of another acrobat and keep from falling into the ever-present net that will keep us from being injured. We keep doing various tricks over and over again, until we cease to think about the great height we're performing at and focus only on the double somersault that needs to occur mid-flight.
Being able to peg the somersault without worrying about failure -- and, if failure does occur, brushing yourself off and climbing up the ladder again to give it another shot -- is a true measure of your creative talent.
Having confidence in your capacity to create something of meaning under any sort of constraint -- that is a worthwhile goal for your design career, and much more valuable than being driven by the fear that you may not have enough talent to be the next uberdesigner of the century.
Sorry, Paul. But we're going to prove you wrong.