Inspiration & Relaxation

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Two weeks ago we organized an ‘inspiration week’ for the department of illustration at the Willem de Kooning Academy (WdKA). It was right after the evaluation of the year’s first projects. We wanted to give students the opportunity to reflect upon what they’ve done and try to inspire them before the second project starts. In other words we wanted our illustration students to have some R&R (Rest & Relaxation).

During the presentations of the first project I heard many students argue that if they had more time; their results would have been better. It’s an argument that sounds convincing and rational. However, I believe time-management has little to do with the success of our projects. I think our ability to stay inspired has a much bigger influence.

We can easily loose our inspiration during projects. In the beginning all projects are fun because everything is possible. At a certain point this changes, and you can only do what you said you would do. If we loose our inspiration during this phase it becomes hard to finish the project. Some of us need the fear of the deadline (and its consequences) in order to be motivated to finish it.

When the (real) inspiration is gone we often tend to change the game of a project. We start to challenge ourselves to manage the project as effectively as possible. We try to do as little as possible and spent the least amount of time on it. If we manage to pass the project like this, we praise ourselves for being so talented and effective. If we don’t pass the project like this, we’ll argue it’s because we didn’t manage our time well enough. Which in a way is true, but it’s not the real reason.

The risk of this development is we become satisfied with being efficient. However the ‘rush of deadlines’ is not the same as the ‘rush of being inspired’. In my opinion; to be inspired is not a ‘capricious, mysterious or divine feeling’. It is simply the ability to connect (the project) to a greater goal. Being inspired implies you feel a sense of urgency to give the best you’ve got. Unfortunately holding on to this feeling is easier said then done.

That’s why I thought it was important for students to have some R&R after their first project. I wanted an informal setting in which students from all years could share stories about their experiences. I asked some students to present their ‘best-practices’ and we had lunch together. Furthermore I asked teachers to team up and give an inspirational class during the rest of the week.

I hope in a way this event has contributed to the student’s clarity of their goals. If there’s clarity it becomes easier for students to understand how their education is only a tool that can help them reach their goal. When that happens; we won’t have to talk about time-management anymore, and things can become more interesting.

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