Friday, March 15, 2013

Evolutionary Character

Design is the largest part of my day to day work life, and has been for a long time. It's not much of a stretch to say I was born prewired for the job, always embracing the creative process as a natural extension of the things in life I enjoy. I feel pretty darn lucky to have translated these creative urges into viable methods of making a living over the years. Thank goodness. I'd make a crappy accountant.

One would assume, given the exhaustive list of designerly output generated over decades of personal and professional effort, that I'd have design flow down to a predictable science by now. Don't I wish…that's just not how good design works. Regardless of experience, design of merit always is and always will be revision perfected, starting out as one thing, but ultimately ending up a product of both the intention, and the unscripted experience of the creative process itself.

People can be described the same way. Whether we like it or not, we are mutable works in process, constantly processing feedback, reinventing ourselves a little bit (or a lot) at a time. Fighting the inevitable call to upgrade old formulas seems to make one rigid, or worse, a fanatical narcissist stuck in a lonely bubble that grows continually smaller. I see it all the time, from priests to punkers, no one is immune to the natural tendency to let what is comfortably predictable become stiffness of character.

Embracing the "Evolutionary Character" however, is a license to be flexible. With it, you are allowed to grow smarter, stronger and happier. As a creative type, I like to conceptualize the Evolutionary Character as the conscious, intentional revising of oneself, perfecting the design we call Life.

Most of us who wish stay flexible quietly battle the creeping stiffness that could, without being kept in check, eventually be used describe us as being "set in our ways". But these days, more than ever before, there are public lives that demonstrate the power of a conscious, re-visionary life. I love to indulge in the stories of Evolutionary Character success. They inspire me, and provide tremendous feedback as to what possibilities exist within my own personal composition.

One such Evolutionary Character story is that of my favorite singer/songwriter Rob Dickinson. Rob fronted the criminally underrated rock band The Catherine Wheel for ten years before they called it quits in 2000, leaving behind a treasure trove of gorgeous, guitar-effect textured alternative classics such as Black Metallic, Crank and Mouthful of Air. During that decade, I can not think of a more influential musical presence in my personal life, and I continue to revisit every album from time to time as a reminder of where I come from and what I am made of. Through the years Rob collaborated with many other artists, and eventually released his only solo album in 2005 to excellent reviews. I loved the album and even made a video to one of his songs to commemorate the first year of my son's life. But soon thereafter, Rob disappeared.

A few years ago, Rob became visible again. But this time, he was not a musician. It makes some sense that so many Catherine Wheel songs could be interpreted as love songs to cars, because Rob Dickinson is a now world famous Porsche designer! Singer, a company Rob founded in 2009, re-envisions the classic 911 as a modern supercar, a hand built masterpiece that is arguably one of the finest sports vehicles ever made, period. He produces 6-10 cars a year, and demand is very high. No wonder why I loved his music so much, having grown up surrounded by hot rods and exotics all my young life, something in his music runs deep in my blood.

With a 250k price tag, the Porsche Singer is the first Rob Dickinson design I can not afford to purchase. But I'm working on that. Like him, I'm upgrading and evolving, working toward the best version of my own Evolutionary Character. I trust the flow, and am resolved to be patient as necessary revisions weed out the stiffness, making room to reach ever-forward. There's also rumor that Rob has been engaging in parallel paths, and will be releasing new music sometime soon. Considering his current success, perhaps connecting with the past under new and less rigid terms will yield amazing results, maybe with refinements on board that would have otherwise been impossible. A Singer, this man absolutely is.

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