Awhile ago, I started a series of posts about what I thought a new designer should consider acquiring and/or developing in their toolkit. Here's the list so far:
Clearly, I've been a bit delayed but the idea of the toolkit hasn't left me so let's continue.
Next on the list? I'd propose this: Learn how to draw.
While this may seem obvious, I am regularly reminded of how many designers or design students actually don't practice this (and some even have a fear of it). My suggestion to overcoming this? Carry some tools with you so that you can pursue it daily. I don't say this as one who has achieved it (the above image is a drawing I did of a Sharpie pen with my less dominant hand in 2005) but rather as one who has learned that in order to visualize information for people I need to be able to show rather than tell them what I am thinking. Ideas and outcomes don't start on the computer so honing this ability to display concepts will only serve to help you with your work. I was reminded of this today when I listened to this excerpt from a Saul Bass documentary.
Because I needed to be challenged in this area, I took up the Sketchbook Project as a means to remind myself that like learning a new language or any other creative skill, you typically don't just wake up with it. You have to nurture and develop it in order to look back and see some measure of breakthrough. Have you ever heard of Morning Pages? They are a great example of how regular process can help break through some of the clutter. I'd propose the same concept for designers and suggest that the pages are about visuals over text.
And sometimes, it comes down to making sure you are prepared at any given moment. Here are some items that I don't leave home without:
Muji (thank you Michael Surtees)
Spaces For Ideas
And if you need more evidence, watch to this great video where Milton Glaser talks about the importance of drawing.