Updated: Feb 22, 2018
I come from a family with healthy rapport, built up by regular exercises in trust. I learned from them, that creative endeavors can be a marvelous method for building trust, because they are sticky, frustrating and inefficient. As a kid, I saw that stickiness daily. My dad's worked his creative magic from the sign shop in our garage. Those projects could evolve over the course of an evening. We'd start with the dinner time idea bounce, then make plans as we did dishes, and finally rush to the garage to execute our vision. It wasn't as victorious or seamless as that sentence implies. Plenty evenings were rife with opinion clashes, broken dishware, and crookedly cut foam core. Creative hiccups can be funny or painful, but they are always invaluable in building confidence and trust. Childhood engraved those truths into my soul before I had the means to articulate them.
A couple years back, I decided I wanted to firm up my relationship with my kid brother. Knowing in my heart what I did about trust and creativity, my natural response was to strengthen relationships via creative endeavors. The type of project we'd do became clear when my brother described his car wrap idea. It was one nerdy idea, and we were just the nerds for it. We got to work right away, he gathered images while I began assembly. From Harry Potter to Pokemon, the design became a tribute to geeks everywhere–especially those born in the 90s.
Car wraps were not unfamiliar to Hawkes and I. My dad had enlisted our help with them several times before. This time was different because our dad helped us, instead of us helping him. In the past, we'd mainly help in brainstorming ideas, give an opinion or two on the design, and help with the simplicities of the actual installation. The role reversal really pushed our knowledge of the process. We took the design as far as we could and then went to the garage. There, our dad helped us with some under the rug issues in the design so the printing would go smoothly. Hawkes and I giggled with glee as we watched the humungous printer lay ink on the vinyl. Soon, the design would be on his car; and he could hardly wait to start the application.
I was okay waiting to install the vinyl. There is a point in every project when I get a solid gut punch from one of two thoughts. Either I don't want to ruin what I have accomplished–or I can't conceive how to fix the mess I have made. In this case, it was the the former. The print was looking great, and I didn't want to wreck it. I know how much that stuff costs, and what a pain it is if you mess up. But after some deliberation, I took a breath, and went to the garage to help Hawkes with the wrap. The vinyl went on smoothly at first, then the wrinkles came. It was ruined. I tried pulling it up and reapplying it. It worked! For about two seconds. Then more wrinkles. I pulled it up and reapplied it again and again. I was amazed at how forgiving the vinyl was. As I worked I reflected on parallels between life experience and the creative process. We dream up these crazy ideas, and then our moment of realization comes. We stand, frozen in fear. Failure is a powerful suppressant to effort. But, when we fight through the fear, we often find that life is more forgiving than we thought, we are more resilient than we believed, and help is more willing than we know. Our dad was a stellar sport as we used his garage while applying the wrap. He helped Hawkes with the tricky spots, until finally, this little dream became a reality. Hawkes' spray painted Acura had turned into the shiniest nerd-mobile I have ever seen.
Hawkes and I are closer than ever, but the unexpected result of this project was that I firmed up my trust in myself. Trust in yourself comes before trust in anyone else. And innovation teaches it better than anything I know.