Drawing Is a Way of Thinking

This is Matt, your studio TA for next semester. For those of you who don’t know me, I’ll be fourth year in the fall.

I just finished an internship interview at a firm whose work I enjoy and respect. After completing the typical round of resume-type questions, I showed the work in my portfolio with excellent response. The projects all proved strong, but when I ran out of material, the senior associate sitting across from me replied: “that’s all very impressive, but I’d like to see how you think with your hand.” She didn’t mean hand built models, hand drafts, or even Doug Cooper drawings; I had plenty of those. She wanted to see sketches. It didn’t matter that I know more programs than they have in the office, or that I can photoshop like a hollywood pro. She wanted to see sketches.

I won’t know if I got the job until next week, but whether I’m red-lining construction drawings or cleaning tables this summer, I know what I’ll be doing during my lunch hour.

As I walked a few blocks to the bus stop, I stopped and looked around me. The sounds and the scenes of the city reminded me of some drawings and sketches I had stumbled upon a few days earlier. They’re part of a series done for an independent study by a student in New York. I suggest you take a look.

Drawing is a way of thinking

Drawing is a way of thinking

I don’t just advocate drawing and sketching because it will get you a job someday, or even because I buy into the lore Doug Cooper cherishes about the eloquent architect sketching up-side-down to impress a client, all while drinking the finest of wines, but because, like writing, making, or scripting computer code, drawing is a way of thinking. As architects, we need to do that in as many ways as possible.

However, sketching maintains a privileged place in our discipline, not because it’s “just what we do” or because we can sell the ones that look cool, but because it’s the only one that connects our understanding of the world around us instantaneously with our hand. It congeals our experience on paper and allows us to project into the future. Sketches are often messy and ambiguous because our thinking is; that’s what makes them great. Firms don’t need interns who can sketch. The principals are the ones passing down the sketches: “here kid, build this.” They want to see how we sketch because they want to see how we think, how we develop ideas, understand realities, interpret, and communicate. Drawing is a way of thinking, so whatever you’re doing this summer, bring a sketch book, think critically and creatively about what you see, and record accordingly. Good Luck.

I’m looking forward to working with you.


3 Responses to “Drawing Is a Way of Thinking”

  1. 1 gutschow
    2009/05/15 at 10:39 pm

    Those are some amazing drawings at that website. The whole site is full of art. Do you know this guy, Matt?

  2. 2 mzhuber
    2009/05/16 at 10:56 am

    No, I found the site randomly when one of the images came up in a google image search.

  3. 3 Liza
    2009/12/18 at 11:31 pm

    In some of the drawings there appear to be splashes of paint or ink.
    This image especially:

    Seems to have splashes that are purposeful. I’m trying to imagine how to train a hand to do purposeful random acts that can be made to look three dimensional. Part of me wants to believe that the splashes were done with such a Jackson Pollack grace- to say that it was a dance. But the other part of me thinks that it was manipulated.

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