Fortune Friday: “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”

This sounds more like something my Grandpa would say, and less like a “fortune.” But what the heck, it was in the cookie with my lunch so I’m going to comment on it.

People underestimate the power of living a principle-centered life. Yes, the moral implications can have a dramatic impact on your day-to-day life. But from a more practical standpoint, principles are a real time saver.

Allow me to share a (somewhat) related example.

When I has in college, I had an illustration teacher named Cary Henrie. He was prolific and inspiring and taught us all many lessons about how to be a true creative professional, and not just a dabbler or hobbyist. He was fond of saying, and I am paraphrasing, “You need to pursue your career in the arts with the same seriousness and intensity as a medical student. Being an freelance illustrator is a hard path. If you aren’t committed 110%, you should do something easier.”

Not exactly the words a struggling student wants to hear, but entirely what we needed.

But what I really learned from Cary was the artistic equivalent of principles. This has paid huge dividends throughout my design career. He urged us to develop and catalog our own internal visual vocabulary. You see, most illustrators have a distinct style or look-n-feel to their work. In that context, the way I draw a tree is different from how another artist draws a tree. Simple enough.

Cary encouraged us to mentally catalog how we illustrated clouds, trees, dogs, cars, buildings, etc. This is extremely helpful in an industry of tight deadlines and shrinking budgets. Instead of reinventing the wheel from scratch on every new project, I can go to my mental file cabinet and pull out the pieces I need, a tree and a mountain and a person, and arrange them into my composition. Genius. You’d be amazed by how many artists actually can’t do this. It would seem like it should be intuitive, but it’s not. It takes work and practice.

Hmm. It seems I’ve strayed a bit from the path on this one. My intention was to swing it back around to actual principles-based living. Oh well, I like where it ended up. That’s what blogs are for, right?

To your good fortune!

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