Monday, November 21

The Genius of Ignorance


In the documentary Upside Down: The Creation Records Story, producer Andrew Weatherall, talks about his process for mixing and producing Screamdelica by declaring that he didn't know what he was doing, and the process was inspired the 'Genius of Ignorance'. The album is undeniably a work of genius and Weatherall's production is astonishing, but the quote resonated with me and I think about it a lot.

It's always been my opinion that the people that know too much are the people that do boring work, of course I respect multi-musician polymaths that can play to the highest standard, but they'll never be more interesting  that Sid Vicious who really couldn't play a note, and that's how I feel about designers. Some of the least inspired and most insipid designers in the industry are over-educated and mundanely text-book in their approach, and obsessed with every detail to painstaking degrees, and their work suffers for it.

I did not study Graphic Design at university, and I've always felt this to my advantage. Early in my career when in briefing sessions I was never trying to mimic the 'Lemon', or make subtle references to industry standards, I was always able to approach a brief from a consumer point of view, always able to see an idea, not for how it looked in a portfolio, or to other designers, because I really didn't understand that, no I always felt I could make a better, more informed approach, that had a more honest and relevant appeal to it.

For me Genius of Ignorance is about doing incredible original work that's not rooted in anything, is inspired, but doesn't copy directly and happens in the moments when the work takes over and you create in a bubble inspired by itself. It's the only way to create outstanding work, and happens rarely, but when it does, what it produces is never over-thought, laboured or boring, but a true step into what you're trying to achieve.

Obviously I'm not a genus, and I'm clearly ignorant, but this quote reminded me that sometimes you need to throw away everything you know, and think much simpler, and that's how great work is created.


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1 comment:

Jason Wright said...

I just wrote something about the idea of "Genius of Ignorance" and then I decided to do a google search on it... found your article. Wasn't aware of the music but find it interesting. Slightly different take. Interesting.