For those of us in the USA, today is Independence Day. And as I’m having my morning infusion of caffeine, that starts me thinking about the relationship between independence and design, and UX, and…well, creativity as a whole. Wondering what I might be able to say about it on the blog today, wondering if one matters more than the other or how the two influence each other….and what other folks have to say on the subject. So after a few hours of Googling and reading, I came across an excellent article in Utah’s Deseret News by Timothy Clark (which I think you should definitely read).

To synthesize the article, the essential premise is that independence should be cultivated early and often. Independence should be emphasized and developed before creativity, because the one is an enabling condition of the other. Independence spawns creative thought and action. In other words, people are independent before they are creative, not the other way around.

The creative process starts with questions and the courage to ask them.

The drawing here is how I interpreted the article; I draw when I read because the visual helps me understand and internalize what’s written. It’s an old habit that has saved me time and again from taking hundreds of pages of notes. Anyway, while I agree with Clark’s premise, I also think there’s a loop effect that happens: The thoughts and actions that are spawned by independence — the courage to ask questions and pursue answers — typically lead to more questions. The cycle runs until the project is over, the product ships or the problem at hand is solved.

And even then, for many of us, it doesn’t really stop. We keep questioning, keep analyzing, keep looking for ways to improve or see things we didn’t previously. That, in its essence, is what keeps us going, keeps us passionate, keeps us connected to the work we do.

I’d love to hear your opinions and experiences with this — do you agree that independence is more important than creativity? That one needs to be learned or developed before the other?

Give me your thoughts here — and Happy Independence Day to all!