The Art of Looking Sideways

Should you come visit us in the studio, there will likely be books, magazines, sketchbooks, and coffee mugs sprawled across our communal table. Through the stacks, one of those books will undoubtedly be the massive tomb of inspiration – Alan Fletcher’s, ‘The Art of Looking Sideways’.

Inspiration is a funny thing. We often don’t understand where that spark comes from, or where our ideas originate. As designers we intend to constantly be a sponge, soaking up the human condition in order to increase functionality or improve quality of life. Fletcher’s,’ The Art of Looking Sideways’ is a single designers lifespan of those collected subconscious and conscious thoughts squeezed out and organized into a single book or as he called it, somewhere between a ‘collage and a box of goodies’. Each page is, in its own right, a stand-alone piece worth absorbing, if only for a minute a day, it’s a reminder to keep asking questions.

To use this book effectively, flip it open to a random page, the destination unknown, you may find a Roman Proverb, a quote from Gauguin, a musing from Nietzsche; anecdotes, stories, and sketches, spanning from throughout the history of the western world. Each turn of the page appears like a fleeting thought, passing through and left to quick interpretation. The book was intentionally created not as a teaching tool, of subjective do’s and don’ts, but as an exploration of visual thinking. Fletcher’s lifetime of experience  pairs the written word with a sketch or collage. This book cleverly brings forth the message of what it means to be consciously aware of the connection between our visual senses, and our minds.

This assortment of thoughts and ideas has a collective power that never fails to draw a smile. Completed over the course of two decades, the book is loosely organized into 72 chapters, ranging from culture, dreaming, senses, problems, alphabet, taste, and skill, just to name a few. Each chapter focuses on looking at its title from various different perspectives.

Not many books can remind us, reveal, and consistently visually demonstrate the power of the limitless resource of the human mind. Its a powerful tool for creatives, a constant voice to never fall into patterns and always actively question everything we do.

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