Visual Thinking Blocks


I’m currently working on setting up a new office space, and in the unboxing process I stumbled upon a few things that I’ve been hauling around for years now – these blocks that I bought at an arts and crafts store:

Blank Blocks - Visual thinking blocks

When I bought them, I didn’t know what I would do with them. I just liked that some of them had letters on them, and some of them were blank – a bunch of empty canvases that I’d get to fill.

Thrift Store Finds

That’s not an uncommon purchase for me – picking up some type of material or supply before I know what I’ll use it for. The same goes for this bag of receipt rolls of paper, which I bought at Goodwill for five dollars.

Thrift Store Finds - visual thinking blocks

When I bought them I had no idea what I might do with those long narrow strips of paper, but it didn’t take me long to come up with one idea (think scrolling comic strip) which I’ve prototyped once but needs some refinement.

Wooden Blocks

In the case of the blank wooden blocks, though, I think I’m ready to give them a purpose.

I want them to be a part of the new office space that I’m setting up, and I want them to balance out the lettered blocks, to add some visual symbols alongside those verbal ones as a shoutout to the name of this project of mine and a reminder of the two ways of working with ideas that we’re always blending in some way here.

So I decided to pick some of my favorite icons and draw them onto those cubes, one on each face. In that way these are kind of like custom story cubes, created by hand and filled with elements from my own visual vocabulary – those symbols that I turn to most frequently in my work.

The Joy of Unnecessary Creating

I still don’t know exactly how I’ll use those symbolic and lettered blocks on a day-to-day basis. I just want them to be around.

Maybe they’ll be an inspiration for future warmups.

Maybe I’ll make up some new games like my friend Austin and I did a while back, this time incorporating both visual cubes and verbal cubes.

Unnecessary Creating - visual thinking blocks

And maybe they’ll just sit on a shelf in the background of future videos.

All I know is that I had fun making them, and I wanted to share the process with you in case you happen to have some as-yet-unused find from a craft store or a thrift shop that you’d like to do something creative with.

I encourage you to go grab that thing and make something, even if there’s no direct connection (yet) between that creative act and your personal or professional goals.

Sometimes it’s worth it to make things just for the sake of making things.

And if you see these blocks in the background of future videos, you’ll know that they came from just that type of spontaneous purchase and impromptu creative activity.

Cheers,
Doug

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