Intelligent design

Dear Artist, Those who take an interest in calligraphy and the art of typeface are aware of the value of simplicity and elegance. With the consistent formation of individual letters, close attention is also paid to the spaces in between — a Zen-like process known as kerning. This was an early study of college dropout Steve Jobs. One of the iconic creators of our time, Jobs persisted through product after product as a perfectionist guiding hand. Starting in his parents’ garage with his high school buddy Steve Wozniak, he exacted a demanding regimen of quality from his associates and employees who, at the time of his death, amounted to 40,000. Jobs, a multi-millionaire in his early twenties, claimed not to be interested in money. Philosophically clean and motivated by the greater good, his commencement remarks to Stanford graduates in 2005 are worth repeating: “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” “No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away.” “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” “A designer,” said another great American visionary, Buckminster Fuller, “is an emerging synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective economist and evolutionary strategist.” Steve Jobs was all of these. Best regards, Robert PS: “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” (Steve Jobs, 1955-2011) Esoterica: Backsliding quality is one of our haunting specters. It permeates our thinking, our products, and the conduct of our lives. In the arts, while daily beaten and defeated, it’s still rampant and viral. It will take new creative minds to re-design the spaces in between. “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” (Steve Jobs)   Tweaking your product by Brenda Behr, Goldsboro, NC, USA  

“A road less traveled”
oil painting, 12 x 9 inches
by Brenda Behr

We are all students. The moment we believe we have “arrived,” we’re in trouble. Just as Jobs continued tweaking his products, we need to make each new painting an improvement on the last. Jobs never rested on his laurels. When we finally find satisfaction with our results, it is perhaps time for a new approach. Our minds yearn to play.         Finding our unique gifts by Paul deMarrais, TN, USA  

“Evening at Newland Farm”
pastel painting, 16 x 20 inches
by Paul deMarrais

Death makes life more important. Author Carlos Castaneda called it ‘using death as an advisor.’ When we act as if today might be our last day, there is no way we are likely to fail. That, however, is a difficult attitude to acquire and to keep going. We usually fall back into thinking that there will be another day, another year or another decade for us to get going. Another helpful attitude is to feel grateful for every day you are alive and healthy. Pair these two attitudes and a person would be unstoppable, like Steve Jobs. We would find our unique gifts and send them out into the world. The world would notice and we’d make a living. There are 2 comments for Finding our unique gifts by Paul deMarrais
From: Loretta West — Oct 14, 2011

Well said, Paul.

From: Ron — Oct 14, 2011

Have always liked your work on here and when you get into Castaneda,you are talking my language..

  Show them what they don’t know they want by Nina Allen Freeman, Tallahassee, FL, USA  

“Bend in the river”
watercolour painting, 15 x 22 inches
by Nina Allen Freeman

I love Steve Jobs‘ quote, “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” I see this is true when it comes to art. Most people could describe something they would like in their house, certain colors or a certain subject. But they usually buy (if they buy) a piece of art that speaks to them emotionally. A scene that reminds them of a special place, or a painting that just makes them happy. In Jobs’ case, He made things we didn’t know we needed until he made them; then we couldn’t live without them. What an amazing thing for one person to impact the world in this way! There is 1 comment for Show them what they don’t know they want by Nina Allen Freeman
From: Susan — Oct 15, 2011

Love these words. And love your painting. It made me gasp–a painting that just makes me happy.

  Rolf Harris by Debbie Field, Capetown, South Africa  

“Your own sorrow”
mixed media painting
by Debbie Field

I saw a wonderful clip today, on the post of “The Telegraph” news, about 81-year-old Rolf Harris, and his new exhibition showing at the Clarkedon Gallery, Mayfair, United Kingdom. (There is also a great bit of writing about it.) I felt prompted to draw your attention to it because there is so much fodder for discussion there. He is the most exuberant and honestly enthusiastic person in all that he does. It struck me that there is much for all artists – even those who are dealing simply with the art of existing — to learn from his way of being. (RG note) Thanks, Debbie. Yes, Rolf is a unique human being, whether playing the didgeridoo, wobble board, composing great songs or painting the Queen of England. I once attended one of his performances where he painted a huge painting — about forty feet long — on stage. After he painted it — which took about ten minutes — he auctioned it off for charity and I bought it. In a fit of Rolf-inspired generosity and enthusiasm, I cut it up into small and medium-sized pieces and gave the whole thing to a bunch of goofy friends. “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport” There is 1 comment for Rolf Harris by Debbie Field
From: Casey Craig — Oct 14, 2011

My parents had the 45 of “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport” and it was my favorite record as a kid. I couldn’t figure out why my parents had it though as I thought it was for children. :)

  David Hockney using iPad by Shirley Erskine, Toronto, ON, Canada  

“Canada, West”
by Shirley Erskine

I’ve just finished writing an article about British painter David Hockney and his use of the iPhone and iPad in his drawings. He has a show at the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum’s Institute of Contemporary Culture) here in Toronto, called “Fresh Flowers: Drawings on the iPad and iPhone.” It features his brilliantly colourful flowers and still life works. David was losing his hearing when he discovered the iPhone to send text messages to his friends. His lifelong love and curiosity of technology soon led to the use of the iPad for drawing and sketching. He is losing his sight and the back lit iPad makes it easier for him to work at any time of day or any light. David Hockney, in his 70s, is still productive and creative and his work is being viewed around the world. Steve Jobs would have been proud!   Buckminster Fuller by Gins V. O. Doolittle, Vancouver, BC, Canada   Steve Jobs was a great American visionary, as was Buckminster Fuller. I studied under Buckminster Fuller for a term at University. He was a walking wizard. You could hear his mind grind out angles of logic, observing everything while thinking! Seeing in the fifth dimension, he processed everything. Like Jobs, his life was simple and quality was essential. (RG note) Thanks, Gins. While I was at Art Center School in California, Buckminster Fuller “Bucky” showed up several times and gave us demos in design theory and exploration. I remember not knowing what room I was in, nor could I find my car in the parking lot when the lecture was over. An early manifestation of my boggled mind. There is 1 comment for Buckminster Fuller by Gins V. O. Doolittle
From: Michael Jorden, Osoyoos, B.C. — Oct 14, 2011

I once had the privilege of hearing “Bucky” lecture at the School of Architecture at U.B.C. He spoke for an hour starting with concrete specifics about sources of energy and how the world worked. At the end of his lecture when he had got to the outer reaches of the universe and we were totally lost, he said “and therefore” and suddenly brought everything together brilliantly. A formidable mind!

  The difference between success and significance by John Seccombe, Ottawa, ON, Canada   John C. Maxwell’s Your Roadmap to Success has some valuable insights: I know a lot of people who believe they are successful because they have everything they want. They have added value to themselves. But I believe significance comes when you add value to others — and you can’t have true success without significance. I came to this conclusion while working on my book Your Road Map for Success, in which I wanted to define success. I habitually file good quotes and stories I come across, and then reference them when writing a book. In preparation for the book, I pulled out every quote I ever filed — 137 quotes to be exact — on the topic of success. I laid them out on the table and carefully thought through them. After six months I came to understand that success is: knowing your purpose in life, growing to your maximum potential sowing seeds that benefit others. The big question is: Once you’ve learned something, do you have a heart to share it with others, or do you hold it for yourself? Success is indeed a journey, but if you stop at adding value to yourself, you miss the reward of significance. Here are a few of my observations about the journey to significance: This journey takes time. It is a process that requires patience and commitment. Success is usually the steppingstone to significance. There has to be a certain amount of success in people’s lives before they are willing to take the step to significance, where they ask themselves, “What else is there in life beyond professional and monetary success?” Pursuing significance takes us out of our comfort zone. Significance is not attainable in a natural way. Let me describe to you the difference of what I think natural and unnatural is: I don’t think you glide or fall into significance. You don’t wake up one day and say to yourself, “I’m significant.” Significance takes us out of comfortable territory into uncomfortable territory. Rusty Rustenbach in his pastoral article Giving Yourself Away, hits this topic out of the park. He writes, ‘You and I live in an age when only a rare minority of individuals desire to spend their lives in pursuit of objectives which are bigger than they are. In our age, for most people, when they die it will be as though they never lived.’ Once significance is sensed, nothing else will satisfy. I think Katharine Graham, author of Personal History, put it best: ‘To love what you do and feel that it matters — how could anything be more fun?’ I know a lot of people who love what they do but don’t feel it matters much. And I know some people who don’t love what they do but do feel it matters. But when you can love what you do and feel that it is making a difference in the lives of others, now you have the right combination. 1. Motives With success, my motives may be selfish; with significance, my motives cannot be selfish. Significance and selfishness are incompatible. When I was a young pastor, I would go to a church and look at my laypeople, and my first thought was — wrong as it could be — ‘What can they do to help me?’ As I matured, it turned around where I would think, ‘What can I do to help them?’ In my experience, motives matter: Selfish people seldom find significance. When you help others, you help yourself. When you help yourself, you may not help others. As Solomon wrote in Proverbs 23:7, ‘As [a man]thinketh in his heart, so is he.’ 2. Influence With success, my influence is limited; with significance, my influence is unlimited. Here’s an anonymous quote I found that will help illustrate this: ‘When you influence a child, you influence a life. When you influence a father, you influence a family. When you influence a leader, you influence all who look to him or her for leadership.’ 3. Time Success can last a lifetime; significance can last several lifetimes. People who desire significance value time. They evaluate what they do with their time, and they invest their time wisely. M. Scott Peck said, “Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” 4. Focus Success asks, ‘How can I add value to myself?’ Significance asks, ‘How can I add value to others?’ My evolution from selfishness to significance went something like this: What can others do for me? What can I do for myself? What can I do for others? What can I do with others, for others? 5. Reward If I pursue success, my joy is the result of my success; if I pursue significance, my joy is the result of others’ success. Very frequently I’m asked what motivates me. And I tell you, I crossed the line a few years ago where the success of other people is a higher reward to me than my own success. Why is it so rewarding for me to add value to others? First, it’s my calling. Second, it’s so productive to get beyond myself and to help people grow and develop. And third, it’s rewarding for me because it pleases God.   A pocket tribute to Steve Jobs by Margaret Wilson, Vernon, BC, Canada   How great the invisible presence That moves the trees with ease A breath of life instilled in eternity My inspiration flows in this stream Filling me with dreams Morning songs and evening sighs Carried in a pocket and filled to overflowing! Namaste!    

Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Intelligent design

From: Daniela — Oct 10, 2011

Dear Robert, It is at the time of a great loss that time seems to stretch and disappear, to allow such deep insights to surface ( both yours and Steve Jobs). Thank you.

From: Nina Allen Freeman — Oct 11, 2011

I love Steve Jobs’ quote, “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” I see this is true when it comes to art. Most people could describe something they would like in their house, certain colors or a certain subject. But they usually buy (if they buy) a piece of art that speaks to them emotionally. A scene that reminds them of a special place, or a painting that just makes them happy. In Job’s case, He made things we didn’t know we needed until he made them; then we couldn’t live without them. What an amazing thing for one person to impact the world in this way!

From: Susan Kellogg, Austin, TX — Oct 11, 2011

I wonder if he ever painted?

From: Marvin Humphrey, Napa Valley — Oct 11, 2011

Like “vanitas” paintings, Steve Jobs’ message emphasized the preciousness of our time alive. True genius is at odds with “Herd Mentality”; it stems from strong individuality.

From: scharolette chappell — Oct 11, 2011
From: Y.S — Oct 11, 2011

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma–which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” Steve Jobs memorize

From: Rene — Oct 11, 2011

This note is submitted on my iPad 2. Hat’s-off to a job well done Steve Jobs. Sorry you had to leave us so soon. Hopefully you left behind many competent people to carry on your legacy. RIP.

From: Edna V. Hildebrandt — Oct 12, 2011

Mr. Jobs, as the genius he was, has the right philosophy. We could apply the same philosophy in art. It is not enough to paint for painting sake. We must not be satisfied just laying on the colors to produce something that we think is good enough. We have to consider all aspects of our work the composition and all elements that is called for to create a masterpiece. We have to strive to try to discover new ways to improve our style and techniques. We should not be satisfied until we are completely convinced that we have done our best.

From: Micaela Marsden — Oct 12, 2011
From: Tulla Jeter — Oct 12, 2011

“Intelligent Design.” Robert, around where I live you don’t use those freighted buzzwords in any context at all.

From: Jackie Knott — Oct 12, 2011

I’m pleased you chose to note the passing of Steve Jobs with this letter. Oddly enough, I’m thankful he chose to take his art to the marketplace instead of the fine arts. The world is a better place because of his contribution.

From: Lawrence Blair — Oct 12, 2011

Genn’s letters are the only art-related blogs worth reading

From: Conrad Klak — Oct 12, 2011

The young Jobs honed “the sophisticated spaciousness of his senses” by leaving college, going to India, becoming a Buddhist, living in an ashram and doing a few drugs. Every person who might wish to be creative should do something similar. As Jobs mentioned: “Bill Gates would have been a cooler guy if he had done so.”

From: Elder Rajoy — Oct 13, 2011

Remarkably refreshing and pleasant use of the well bandied about term “Intelligent design.”

From: Teresa Hitch — Oct 13, 2011
From: Enid Egan — Oct 13, 2011

How wonderful to think not only on the things that great men wrote about life and how to live it, but also death and what to do about life before we squander it. Steve Jobs came across on TV as a person who actually believed in other people. I hope someone will write a decent biography of the man.

From: Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki — Oct 13, 2011

What rings the loudest in Steve Jobs quotes for me is to brush away any embarrassment and pride when passionate about something. I have felt many times that the driving force that moves us forward comes from those potentially embarrassing moments when we go on a limb. It takes character not to look back. The triangle of passionate capability, longevity and money is a different puzzle for every person. Steve Jobs plunged into his passion as a very capable young man. The older we get, the less time there is to swim to the other shore, although our swimming style and endurance might be better.

From: Rick Rotante — Oct 13, 2011

Your eulogization of Steve Jobs was a bit much. You practically raised him to God status with your comments. This was a self serving iconoclast if you will, who neglected his personal life to the point of denying his responsibility of having a child out of wedlock and going as far as to obstruct just payment to the mother of this only child. This is the same person who, because of his personal drive, forced his workers to a ninety hour work week to meet his own ends. Again the same person whose partner in the creation of Apple, left him because Job’s ambitions over road his sense of honor and justice and righteousness. We tend to see people who achieve extraordinary things as heros and neglect to see them as they really are. As with all stories of men who rise in business to great riches, from Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan’s to Bill Gates, these were not men who made many friends and were considered loving men to those who knew them. If death was his motivation to succeed, it was misplaced. Added to which I find it disingenuous to believe his “disinterest” in acquiring lots of money. In reality money makes the world go round. Without it, he would not have done what he did nor acquired the wealth he so loath.

From: Casey Craig — Oct 13, 2011

I watched this speech on TV the day after Steve Jobs died. So moving and inspiring. Whatever problems one has in life it is good to remember one still has life and to make the most of it.

From: Lynni Nelson — Oct 13, 2011

Very nice tribute and an honest one. I appreciate you being part of my life. You inspire, encourage and keep your feet on the ground. Thank you for sharing yourself!

From: Lucy Willemsen — Oct 13, 2011

Just to say you are very much appreciated and I don’t delete you when you come in.

From: Geoffrey Siemens — Oct 13, 2011

If you want to see Jobs-enabled art, you need look no further than “Toy Story” and “Cars.” The Pixar company, which Jobs created when on sabbatical from Apple, and later sold, and was still its largest shareholder on his death, represents the greatest advance in animation since Disney, who also got started in a California garage.

From: david — Oct 13, 2011

grate feel enjoy design and funtion is relative to people enjoy lifes

From: observer — Oct 14, 2011

To Rotante: Genn’s comments weren’t that lavish (God status?) Many great leaders, geniuses, presidents, as well as famous artists have/had questionable personal lives. This takes nothing away from their accomplishments on the world’s stage. Those people who worked for 90 hours a week had a choice…and many of them profited handsomely from the success of their “sweatshop”. Jobs acquired wealth, yes, but his genius enabled countless companies and individuals to do the same through the benefits of technology advancement. And how he valued money is not for another to judge or even understand, as we tend to slant someone else’s view based on our own. Mr. Jobs earned all the accolades he has been given of late for his gifts to this technological world…maybe even yours…

From: Rick Rotante — Oct 18, 2011

To observer — While I appreciate your feedback it would have been better if your didn’t hide your name. Feel free to come into the light and let everyone know who you are. Today many sell their souls for profit. The evidence of this is all around us. True, while many past inventions have influenced the world and caused us to be where we are today, It remains for time to show us that not all inventions are beneficial to mankind in the long run. Not to come off sounding too negative, the world is now suffering from many of those inventions we were quick to embrace. Most of these inventions did not come into being strictly from honorable intentions. Most came into being from a greedy need of a few for power and the acquisition of wealth and/or fame. We are too easily suduced into believing technology is going to save us and bring a better future. Jobs cashed on our insatiable need for the “new”. This is eveident in the fact that any electronical device one buys today is obsolete even before it is purchased. I don’t hold Mr. Jobs totally at fault here. He was a product of a society that feeds on this sort of thing. Newer, faster, better, higher, more, more.

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Poppy pose

watercolour painting, 7 x 7 inches by Anne Duke, Needles, CA, USA

  You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013. That includes Alex Nodopaka of Lake Forest, CA, USA, who wrote, “Your memoriam was appreciated by someone who worked for 33 years in the same geographic silicon triangle. Steve Jobs’ social status was no less than Einstein’s in the ways they both changed everyone’s life.” And also Charles Peck of Punta Gorda, FL, USA, who wrote, “Even with Steve Jobs’ faults accounted for, which simply humanize him, he is still a fine paragon for inspiration to ‘be all you can be.’ ”    

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