When Drawing A Cat, Don’t Look At A Cow

What makes a good drawing of something?

The first rule of drawing something is to make sure it can be seen in picture. I know that seems like a ridiculously simple rule, but it can be forgotten quickly as you draw. The second rule is to find references for what you want to draw. No one is born with the ability to draw perfectly. You need to find things that look similar to what you want to draw if you want to improve at it, and draw while observing those references.

A drawing is only as good as the reference you draw from.

You want to draw a cat? Look at a cat. You want to draw a person? Look at that person. As you build your experience of viewing references, you can start to combine things in your head more easily, making the reference you need more specific. You can take parts of ten different references and combine them into things the world has never seen.

This is true of everything from art to business to government.

In business, don’t be so proud as to build something blindly disconnected from what others are doing or have done.

Whether you are adding staff to your business or designing a new service or product to offer your customers it’s important to look at examples, or references, of what other businesses have that are similar. You may find things that are missing from your version that would help you, and you may find things that are there that don’t fit with what you want to build. Both are valid and useful.

Even if you are hiring a job that has a name, make sure that you know what responsibilities that person should have. If you think a manager should talk to their subordinates but the person you hire as a manager doesn’t, you’ve drawn a cat while looking at a cow.

Don’t assume that everyone thinks the way you think, or sees the way you see.

No one can read your mind, and each person on this planet thinks differently than the next person. It’s frankly a miracle that we communicate enough that we’ve built our civilization this far, and it will take even better communication to build up from where we are now.

The United States is trying to redesign and redefine the departments of public servants it uses, and their responsibilities. I hope that someone that is part of that discussion knows how to seek references, and does so. It’s the only way this can be done, because we’re trying to build something the world has never seen.

A good drawing shows the thing that you saw to someone else, even if what you saw was only in your head.

Seek references to make sure your drawings of cats are cats.

See you next Wednesday.

Chris Jabas