I interviewed the renown fantasy illustrator, John Howe, for Desktop last week. I had a great chat with him and he talked about design and art education, some of which I had to cut out due to space. The tonsils comment I couldn’t bear to leave on the surgery cutting room floor:

“Art is perceived as a necessary appendage in schools. Art is the tonsils of the high-school system – everyone agrees that it is important, but they certainly can’t figure out how to teach it. I think it’s a right-brain left-brain confusion between learning to draw and learning to write.”

He went on to explain how we are taught to write with a pen or pencil in a certain way and then apply that to drawing because we use the same tools. But that means we use our analytical, language side of the brain to draw. (John holds his pencil quite differently from writing).

Most adults draw like 12 year-olds unless they go on to work in an industry where they still draw, because it’s no longer perceived to be a useful skill in later life. It is a great shame because the skills of imagination, thinking and seeing that one learns through drawing are useful for so much more.

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