Fill your work with love

“Not enough love.” That was the response from Frank Chimero’s design professor after looking through some of his work.

“My work was flat, because it was missing the spark that comes from creating something you believe in for someone you care about. This is the source of the highest craft, because an affection for the audience produces the care necessary to make the work well.”

“The work has enough love when enthusiasm transfers from the maker to the audience and bonds them.”

This is from Chimero’s excellent book, The Shape of Design. The passage above reminds me of Tolstoy’s claim that “Art is infection.” An artist, a teacher, a maker of any sort, has an idea or feeling and wants to share it. It’s effective, it’s art, when the audience gets that very same feeling or sees that idea just as the maker did.

You’ve got to care enough about your work and those you serve – an audience, a customer, a student – that you fill your work with all the love you can, with care and attention to detail and enthusiasm.

When I write, I often imagine my audience to be my young daughters reading this many years from now, maybe even after I’m gone. Don’t you know that informs my efforts. When I lose sight of my ultimate audience, it’s easy to lapse into just going through the motions. Then flatness abounds.

What if we examined all our work in this light? What gift can we offer to our audiences? Our colleagues or customers? Our families? Are we putting enough love into our labors?