Topic

Minimalism

Getting rid of excess to focus on what matters most.

Creative Resilience

Pablo Picasso's 1946 work, The Bull, is a series of drawings that get progressively more detailed before reversing course until only a single line remains:

A series of bull drawings by Pablo Picasso
Pasadena, Norton Simon Museum, Picasso P. The Bull, 1946” by Vahe Martirosyan is licensed under CC BY – SA 2.0

The series is timeless, because it perfectly illustrates the creative process.

I'm using the word "creative" here in a broad sense. Any kind of problem solving, artistic or otherwise, follows this arc. As we become more familiar with the bounds of a problem, we discover how to refine it down to its most important parts.

To find the best solution, we often must first wrestle with the more sophisticated and complicated alternatives before arriving at the simplest answer.

Why are simple solutions better? They're better because they're more likely to last. In contrast, complex solutions are more brittle, because they have more points of failure.

Simple is hard, but it's resilient. And that resilience is your reward for putting in the work to eliminate complexity.

Simplicity is Hard

The instructions for Atari’s Star Trek game were only four words:

"Insert Quarter. Avoid Klingons."

It takes a lot of work to create something that needs so little guidance.

Complexity is easy, because it’s often a lazy way to solve problems. Just add another line to the instructions. Or add that new feature without considering how it impacts the user experience.

The hard thing is distilling what you’re making down to its essence so that it’s intuitive.

Your work is finished when it’s so clear, it needs little explanation.

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