Art and design are one of those fields where the more you practice, the better you get. Artists start exhibiting signs of design thinking at a very young age, but they are usually very subtle.
If you can spot raw talent in your child, then you can help your child to utilize the talent for a better future for them, and the world.
In this blog, we will talk about the least teachable traits that help you recognize raw design talent:
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1) The Eye
To quickly evaluate design, you need what designers call The Eye. The Eye is all about good taste.
Does your child critique the design of street signs? Obsess over colors and fabric when buying new clothes? Become infatuated with particular drawings, paintings, or photographs? Resist the urge to straighten crooked picture frames? Your child might have The Eye.
Designers use their Eyes to tweak thousands of little details, all day, every day. Without it, you can’t create a great result of any meaningful size.
Note that your child doesn’t have to make anything to have The Eye. They just need to recognize what’s good and what’s not.
If you want to see if your child has The Eye, ask them to pick any object in the room. Then ask them to tell you what they like (and don’t) about its design. If they have The Eye, they’ll have a lot to say.
2) The Spark
Generating solutions requires The Spark, which is all about creativity. Before we talk about creativity, let me give you our definition:
Creativity is simply the tendency to make things.
Creativity is about what you do, not what you say. That cool kid who loves movies and never quite gets around to starting that specific movie? Not creative. A kid fixing their toy with a makeshift material? Creative.
Does your child just talk, analyze, compare, and debate? Or do they pick up a pencil and draw? Creativity is that pure, raw itch to get your hands dirty and create something new. When creative people show up, things are brought into the world (even if it’s a doodle on a post-it).
Creativity is not about making good things, it’s about making anything at all. You can’t make good things until you’ve learned how to make, and you can’t learn how to make unless you make a lot of bad things first.
Creativity is hard. It’s summoning something from inside yourself and manifesting it into the real world with your hands. It requires bravery and willingness to be wrong.
Sometimes managers have to “rein in” the creative instinct of young designers. Creating things too fast can keep us from learning enough—but when it’s time to make, we have to burst out of the gates and make.
If you’re not sure if your child is creative, ask them to draw an idea they’ve been talking about. Some kids will hesitate, or go on explaining, but creative kids will be relieved to put it on paper.
Another way to check out your child’s creativity is via coding. Among other benefits coding also enhances creative abilities in a child.
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3) The Flow/Zone
Once your child gets eye and creativity, they need practice. And practice. And more practice. It’ll take a few years till they are really good (we encourage children to learn coding from a younger age for this reason). For coders, this means sitting in front of a computer for hours on end.
This is nearly impossible to do unless you have The Flow — the tendency to become lost in your design work.
The Flow is the enjoyable and energizing state of absorbed focus that skilled people hit when they’re on an engaging challenge. Athletes call this “the zone”.
The Flow requires grit, but don’t confuse it with “hustle”. It has nothing to do with summoning charm, nothing to do with getting aggressive, nothing to do with sweat or “winning”. Your child doesn’t even need to wake up early. The Flow can be a grind, but it’s closer to relaxed focus than a slog.
In fact, Flow should feel pretty easy. Bukowski’s gravestone reads: “Don’t try.” If your child has to try too hard to get into the Flow, they might not have much energy left once they get there.
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Together, these three traits make up most of a design “natural”: seeing a design problem (The Eye ), creating a solution (The Spark ), and working on it until it’s good (The Flow ).
But there’s still one missing piece.
4) The Heart
Great designers tend to express themselves in emotional terms. When they talk, they get excited, giggly, anxious, or annoyed. Bad design makes them physically cringe; great design elicits a happy shout. You can see how the child is progressing just by looking at their faces.
Emotional people can have almost any personality: quiet with a subtle, cutting wit; vocal and vibrant; nurturing and reserved; jolly and outgoing. The only thing they’re not is emotionally neutral — even if they seem that way at first.
Emotional people aren’t necessarily aware of their emotions either. Our society doesn’t teach us much emotional intelligence, and designers are no different from the rest of us. Some of us are better at sharing our emotions than others.
Making something usable isn’t enough, it has to be something people really want — and want is always connected to emotion. Without emotion, your work will be simply “there”.
These traits are heavily focused on when your child learns how to code.
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