a his & hers weblog of worlds apart

Imagination Exchange

I recently stumbled upon illustrator Dave Devries’ beatiful Monster Engine project which asks the question: what would children’s drawings look like if they were painted realistically? The results are these fantastical one-of-a-kind images.

Turning to children for imaginative ideas is hardly a new notion. But with all the recent emphasis on creativity in commerce, the burgeoning Imagination Economy is perpetually in need of inspiration. At Idea Couture we’ve worked with children for several co-creation projects over the past few years, one of which my colleague Maryam recently wrote about.

Create Motivational Artifacts 

Another piece that I really find interesting about Devries’ project is the potential it has to motivate the kid creators themselves. When speaking about his pioneering 826 initiative – which promotes creative writing among 6-18 years old – Dave Eggars says “there are tons of students whose work deserves our attention, and they will work like mad when they know their work will appear in a book” (source: MISC). With a similar core insight, Red Balloon’s business cards for kids program hopes these calling cards will inspire young students, and in the future, act as reminders of what they once dreamed.

In the above examples I would argue there is a compelling value exchange for both sides: Youth and Experience.   Experience often lacks ideas, but has access to people, skills and knowledge that can result in impressive, professional-looking outputs. Youth, on the other hand, possesses unbounded imagination, but often desires access to the tools, skills and learnings that Experience assembles. Each of the aforementioned projects – Business Cards for Kids, 826 Publications, and Monster Engine – provide motivational artifacts for both the kid creator and the professional executioner. You can envision how this concept can go even further: what if Pixar partnered with 826 and made short films of select stories? How many kids might that encourage to start writing?

Play With Tomorrow’s Doogie Howsers 

With more young, successful entrepreneurs emerging, I believe the number of these sorts of cross-generational collaborations will only increase. Reverse mentorships are just a slightly older, more corporate, example of this shift. The world is producing more Doogie Howsers than ever before in history, and as a result we’re beginning to see more merit given to smart, fresh thinking (and less weight assigned to traditional, time-stamped ‘experience’).

Not all youngsters are the next Zuckerberg, but they all can offer a sense of imagination motivation. So, if you’re heading off to hang with family over the holidays, try to take advantage of your time with the little ones. Learn to unlearn, get co-creative, inspire and be inspired.

One comment on “Imagination Exchange

  1. Richard Hazell
    January 23, 2012


    This article reminds me of the movie Big. Watch it sometime and you will see what I mean.

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This entry was posted on December 22, 2011 by in His Nurture Posts and tagged , , , .

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