Ben Heine: Pencil and Camera

Pencil Vs Camera - 36

Image Copyright © Ben Heine – 2012

Reminiscent of the work of Julian Beever in some respects, I love the Pencil v Camera project by Belgian artist Ben Heine. Ben was born in The Ivory Coast (1983) and studied as a journalist. He is self-taught in drawing and photography and has an amazing natural talent for graphical work. His Pencil v Camera series is one of several projects he is currently working on. His other projects include Digital Circlism and Flesh and Acrylic. He has a great website where you can view some of this work.

The photo in Ben’s work above is of Ancient Thera. It was taken at the top of Messavouno mountain on the island of Santorini, Greece and I love the message in the drawing/photograph. “If you can dream it, you can do it” which is something Walt Disney famously said.

Recently, I ran a Train the Trainer workshop during which I taught what I like to refer to as The Disney Strategy. It is something I believe that Walt Disney actually used to great effect and it involves brainstorming a problem from three different perspectives: dreamer, realist and critic.

As I understand it, Disney was a very creative individual and indeed, he dreamed up the idea for Disneyworld long before he was successful with Mickey Mouse. Anyway, although he was good at dreaming up ideas, he was apparently not very good at knocking them into shape or working out how they could be improved.

He would go to see a trusted advisor and run his new ideas past that person to get feedback on how he could make them more practical. Then, after he had begun work on getting the new idea off the ground, he would go to see another friend who’s judgement he also trusted in order to get ideas on how his project could be improved. He would ask that person to be critical of the new product.

The Disney Strategy (A Three Step Process)

  • Dreamer: Allow yourself the freedom to dream up a great idea
  • Realist: Ask yourself how you can make it practical
  • Critic: Be judgemental to identify opportunities for improvement

It is a simple three-step process that I suggest could be used for creating new learning experiences. But you could use it in any kind of product creation process. As odd as it may sound, you can do it yourself too i.e. just brainstorming your idea from those three perspectives. You can just get yourself into the relevant frame of mind and then simply be pragmatic and critical about your own ideas or you can do what Disney did and seek the counsel of trusted advisors.

If you decide to use other people, just be aware that you need to be very selective. You are not looking for anyone’s opinion and, in particular, you are not looking for people who will simply want to flatter you. You are looking for people who have a keen eye and sound judgement and who you discern have a natural flair for pragmatism and judgement. Remember too that everyone will have an opinion and you don’t want unqualified advice, so seek the opinions of those who are qualified to give them.

One final thing on seeking the opinions of others: you are seeking critical feedback so you can improve things. It is important to create the environment in which critical feedback can be given and accepted in the right spirit. It is so common for people to take critical feedback personally and you must not allow yourself to do that. So you need to develop the strength of character to be able to receive critical feedback i.e. you need to be able to rise above your own ego for the benefit of your project.

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