I Don’t Know Anything
The beauty and wonder of ignorance.
Selling small businesses to multinational corporations was not part of the curriculum in any of my college art classes. Also absent were self promotion, public speaking, iPhone game creation, publishing a picture book, and building an internationally recognized brand. In fact, I mostly just drew naked people. 👇
Yet over the past 20 years, I still managed to create iPhone games, speak at Lincoln Center, promote my way into a Pixar workshop, sell a picture book to Scholastic, build my brush brand and then sell it to Adobe.
How? The answer: ignorance!
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When I set out to make a full-color graphic novel in 2007 with a talented writer friend, I knew nothing about how difficult and time consuming it would be. And this not-knowing was a key part of what made the whole thing possible; had I known then how many hours of work were required to complete just a single page, I never would have picked up my pen. My ignorance and my general lack of experience in comics allowed me to dive in and figure it out as I went.
And that’s the first superpower you gain from ignorance: the ability to go for things without the burden of knowing just how challenging they can be.
Sometimes, more knowledge can mean less courage, less initiative, less self-belief. As Han Solo famously said, “Never tell me the odds.” If you knew the chance of success was extremely low, or that the required amount of work was monumental, would you even start?
I’m thankful for the times I had no idea what I was getting myself into. This is often when I grew a lot and learned the most.
And what is the second superpower you gain from ignorance? It’s the freedom to devise your own methods and chart your own path to reach whatever goal you set. You haven’t studied a road map; you will make one as you go. No prescribed formulas are in the picture; a formula can be handy, certainly, but it can also prevent you from discovering alternatives that are equally effective, or even superior.
Armed with ignorance, I have muddled my way through many challenges. With a little belief in yourself, some persistence, and a bit of creative thinking, you can do the same.
But at some point, no matter how inventive and clever you are, you are bound to find yourself stuck on a problem you can’t solve alone. A lot can be accomplished with your own wits and hard work … but not everything. Sometimes, you need to reach out to others.
And when it came time to go for the big prize and seal the deal with the sale of my brush brand to Adobe, I knew I needed assistance. And this will be the topic of next week’s issue: knowing when, and how, to ask for help.
Thanks for reading. I’d love to know if you have experienced this yourselves. Has a lack of experience or knowledge allowed you to boldly tackle a challenge in your personal or professional life?
Resources are below, as always. Until next time, take care of yourselves and each other, remember to be kind, and I’ll say, ciao for now. - Kyle
Resources for You
A book I’m reading (that relates to this issue’s topic) about how, in 1420, Filippo Brunelleschi designed the plans for what is STILL the largest masonry vault in the world at the Opera del Duomo of Florence.
I developed a better version of the Photoshop Lasso tool called ‘Super Lasso.’ It does all kinds of neat stuff. Check it out here.
Kirk Fanelly creates art from inlaid cut paper, using a painstaking and precise process that is simply incredible. His is truly original work.