One of the things that I truly cherish about the many years I’ve spent working in the interactive media business, is the great privilege that I’ve had to work with so many phenomenally talented visual artists. I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I first began to see imagery of a world that I could only express in words begin to take life at the hand of someone who could draw. It was nothing short of phenomenal.
My first experience with this magical relationship occurred shortly after I sold my first project, an interactive game that was set beneath the sea in a mythical place inhabited by human-fish hybrids. Following that somewhat psychedelic exploration, I found myself employed at Walt Disney Imagineering, where working with artists to bring concepts to life with visual treatments and storyboards is a standard part of the creative process.
Most recently, I have been working on a series of mobile edutainment games that are being designed to make learning Math and English fun. Without the help of a talented storyboard artist, much of this work would not be nearly as coherent, detailed, or perhaps even possible.
As I reflected on this the other day, I began to realize just how much all these years of working with visual artists has positively affected not just my ability as an interactive designer, but my craft as a writer and a storyteller as well. The exchange of ideas with artists, the act of expressing those ideas, and the many conversations in and of themselves have made such an enormous contribution to my overall growth.
So if you’re a writer and you’ve never had the opportunity to work with a visual artist, I strongly recommend that you actively find a way to do so. Perhaps you have a friend who draws who would be willing to storyboard something you’ve written as an exploratory exercise. Or maybe there’s a program at a local university that you can tap for volunteers. Either way, taking a scene from one of your scripts and bringing it visually to life on the page will be an invaluable experience.
And perhaps most importantly, this process will also help you understand that no matter how hard you try, the work you produce on paper will never look exactly the way it does in your head. Seeing the creations of your mind in pictures is a great teacher, a great “alleviator” of the pain that art is not — and never can be – perfect, that it will always emerge from us in a flawed state, and that those flaws and imperfections are part of what makes it unique.
To learn about my book, Live To Write Another Day, A Survival Guide for Screenwriters and Creative Storytellers and check out blurbs and reviews, click here.