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Da Vinci Sacrifices Himself For Art

April 25, 2011
at 5:20 pm PST

“If your VP asks you to draw your idea on the board, I want you to acquit yourself favorably.” This was one of the goals of a half-day Visual Communications class I took recently.  Our teacher, Greg Twiss, is a Design & Engineering Operations Director here at Cisco, and also a former IDEO Client Manager and Product Design Consultant.

We had a whirlwind tour of drawing perspective, shadowing and creating visual tension.  Greg talked about how strong visuals combined with great story tellling creates a lasting message.  No more bullet point lists for us!

He also talked about our adult hang-ups. All kids say they can draw. He then asked our class how many people could draw and 2 people raised their hands. The constant self critique while drawing really gets in our way.

We then did an exercise from the book “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards.  Greg projected an upside down self portrait of Leonardo Da Vinci.

We were tasked to reproduce the drawing on our own paper.  The idea is that  once you break it down to shapes and squiggles, you stop agonizing over if it looks like the original. Then we flipped out drawings back over.  There were obviously some people in the group that had natural talent:

Photo and Drawing by Mason Hu

Photo and drawing by Shraddha Chaplot

But then, we started to look at all of the drawings lined up. There were so many variations based on the same drawing.

Check out the sizes of the different Leonardos:

Photo by David Senk

and the positioning on the page:

Photo by Ben Petesic

I love the sort of Picassoesque one, second from the left

Photo by David Senk

Theoretically, everyone knows that a diverse set of perspectives can create a stronger and more innovative result. Different to see the evidence visually. And, really, it was quite unexpectedly beautiful. Beauty in diversity.

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4 Comments.


  1. Greg is SUCH a star, but who knew….this…too….
    thanks for sharing!

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  2. Susie Wee

    Hi Olivia!

    What a cool class! Was this class offered at Cisco? I truly can’t draw (perhaps I have other strengths), but I truly admire those who can and I appreciate the power of a good drawing and a story!

    Susie

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    • Olivia Shen Green

      Hi Susie,
      Yes, this was a Cisco pilot class. I’ll send you more info off-line. I feel the same way though. I have to say that my biggest accomplishment from this class was the ability to draw a round circle and to transition to a more sophisticated stick figure:)

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