Ideas Are the Only Tool You Need

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Originally published on Handpicked stories about Creativity on Medium on 2020 06 25 by Frank the man——-8—————–creativity

© Soragrit Wongsa / Unsplash

Ideas Are the Only Tool You Need

Stop chasing the latest technology and focus on what you can learn

I have a friend photographer. I mean, photography is not his full-time job, yet. He’s balancing a daily job together with his real passion, photography and I really admire him for that.

He’s a bit nerdy and every time our conversation gravitates around the topic of photography he can’t help but talk about the next, latest, shiniest gear he’s currently looking at. Every year he needs to renovate his arsenal, in the hope to become the best photographer of all, but I honestly often wonder if it’s really the tools that would make him better in his pursue, rather than honing the techniques and creative ideas in order to stands out from the mass.

I’m not a photographer myself, so I don’t really know. It is probably my way of thinking, coming from design education.

One of the most valuable lessons I got from one of my teachers from College was: “ It doesn’t matter how expensive and sophisticated your tools are, the only thing that makes any difference is your mind and ideas.”

He was a teacher in digital publishing and design. Back in the 90s, he exploited the interactive power of PDFs to revolutionize the concept of magazines and their fruition, and all his career followed the idea of finding the unexplored edges of new tools and technologies to create new concepts out of it.

At that time, the content industry was trying to make sense of new consumer tools, such as iPads to develop new formats. One of the best examples of this wild creative exploration was a short-lived magazine called Katachi, which aged pretty well still now.

The tools behind these new forms of entertainment and communication were in the early stages and fairly simple. In fact, the ideas and creativity behind them were the only main engine.

That teacher showed us that most of the time we already have the tools to develop something new and creative, we just have to look at them in a different way. Just search in your pocket: you already have the capability of a full-fledged computer at your fingertips. Something not even Apollo’s astronauts and researches could even dare to dream.

The only difference is how we use all this power. Some would use it for searching cute images of kitties. Some other would fly people to the moon. Is just a matter of priorities, after all.

I use these examples to remind myself sometimes that I don’t have to put up so many excuses to avoid chasing my dreams and aspirations. Most of the time is only fear that holds us back, not the lack of tools or knowledge.

That was back in 2010. Flash forward to today: is twentytwenty. Excuses don’t work anymore today.

  • You wanna get new knowledge? There are countless resources, free and widely available. There are online courses, such as Skillshare or Udemy. Just take one of them and follow through. Consistency and commitment are the only criteria to make them fruitful.
  • You wanna become a photographer? Don’t wait to get the latest gear, the latest impossible-to-live-without-new-polarize-filter for your camera. Just grab your phone and start right now. Maybe the first shots will look like Kevin’s famous Chili on the floor, but that’s okay. This first experience will teach you maybe how to better optimize natural light and backgrounds, or maybe to exploit new creative ideas to make it good and original the next time.
  • You wanna become a film-maker? Yes, you don’t have to wait to be Michel Gondry to start something on your own. Or.. wait! Maybe you can. In fact, one of his latest movies, Détour, was actually shot using an iPhone.

You see, is not really a matter of gears and big investments anymore. Is rather a question of willingness and commitment to your ideas.

The most inspiring example of this comes from the unexpected town of Kaduna, Nigeria. There, a bunch of young creatives started to produce and develop their own sci-fi movies, with amazing results.

The collective is called Critics Company, “a bunch of teenagers in northern Nigeria trying to change the narrative”, and they’ve released a few good feats on Youtube already, rising quickly to popularity. Their aspiration was to reach Nollywood Industry. They didn’t wait for the opportunity to come, they run forward to grab it!

How they did it? They watched Youtube tutorials, created a makeshift studio in their garage, and just kicked it! Excuses weren’t enough to stop them, not even the legendary Nigerian slow connection.

“No costs are involved as they do everything themselves but they have to keep their works short — or it would take too long to upload.”

And you know what? Their work hasn’t flown by unnoticed since they’ve become the first Nigerians to get nominated for a Webby Award.

Another great, great example of the limitless power of ideas comes from Tatsuo Horiuchi, the self-taught excel painter. Tatsuo was already retired when he decided he wanted to start painting digitally. He didn’t have the tools and resources to buy high-end software. But this didn’t stop him.

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Randy Salars News And Comment

Copywriter and marketing consultant. Author of 'Stories And Recipes From The Soup Kitchen.' Freedom lover, adventurer, and treasure hunter.

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