Upon deciding to pursue a creative career path, I started encountering the following concept A LOT, from my peers, colleagues, teachers, mentors, heroes:
We creatives are visual thinkers.
I remember hearing a professor say this to me when I was a college freshman, sitting in an intro level Computer Graphics class. It made my stomach drop. I wasn’t a visual thinker! I thought in words all the time! I LOVED to read, and didn’t need pictures to enjoy novels… My inner monologue was definitely word-based, not picture based. Temple Grandin talks about the amazing ways in which visual thinkers are able to process and experience the world and how that helps them come up with the most fantastic visual solutions to problems of all kinds.
Would I ever be worth anything as a designer, if I didn’t identify as a visual thinker?
Here’s the thing. Some people are born visual thinkers. Some people are born verbal thinkers. And most people are born somewhere in the middle. Your VISUAL THINKING cortex (I’m a scientist, you guys) is a muscle. The more you exercise it, the more it will grow.
Visual Kelsey Brain has been growing over the past several years. In fact, I think it’s crowding out Verbal Kelsey Brain. These days, I can’t tell someone how to spell a word unless I trace it in the air in front of my face like a Scripps kid. If something’s not in chart form…. I need it to be. But all for the ultimate mission of being a better visual communicator.
So I’ll keep exercising this muscle. I’ll never be a Temple Grandin, not even close. But in striving to learn to think visually, “we creatives” (I’m comfortable saying this now), DO need to be visual thinkers. It’s just a matter of process, time, and growth.