One shape at a time

You take seven simple shapes. And you make a bird.

Or a horse. Add some more, and you have a castle. Spend an hour working hard, you might end up with a battleship.

I have never been an artist. But when I was younger, I could feel like one for a few hours at a time. All thanks to Ed Emberley.

The design was perfect. You start with a basic shape and you add smaller shapes as you go. The style was minimal, perfect for aspiring artists, yet it wasn’t sloppy.

Ed Emberley and his Big Books of drawing made creation simple. The most basic shapes could become something fun, each serving as the building block to something more grand.

Art was accessible, and from there creativity seemed accessible. You learned to move away from the standard instructions and start adding on your own changes. It taught me the basics of drawing, and in doing so taught me the basics of creativity.

Ed Emberley didn’t make me who I am today – just as it didn’t make most people. But I bet if you ask around to those friends who write, or design, or direct, or do anything in any creative field, they’ll know who Ed Emberley is.

They’ll say, “I loved those books!”

And they’ll start reminiscing like I just did.

This was lovingly handwritten on March 31st, 2009