Do the Common Uncommonly Well

Virtuosity has been defined as performing the common uncommonly well. 

So often there is a temptation to want to run before you can walk, and that’s attributed to the fact that impatience is very much so part of the human condition. 

We truly believe in starting from the ground up in something by learning and mastering the fundamentals of whatever it is you’re trying to grow in. Ultimately then, you’re going to be more proficient and confident because of the firm foundation you’ve created for yourself.

As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.
— Harringon Emerson

Liz and I have both been skiing since we were two years old. Yep, that is a lot of years on skis! I have always been an intuitive skier who had a feel for what I was doing in a given situation on the hill. I thought I was a pretty darn good skier growing up. However, it wasn’t until I started ski instructing some 9 years ago at one of the top ski schools in the country that I was like, “Dang, I don’t actually know what I’m doing.” 

Before that time, I honestly rolled with what felt right without really knowing what I was doing and the WHY

In my pursuit of attained higher levels of instructor certification I literally ‘re-learned skiing’ from the ground up. Through that process, the really fun thing for me was that I was able to marry my intuitive feel for skiing and the basic fundamentals, which makes for an awesome combo. 

Now, I am on the educational/certification staff and a trainer for all the Utah and Wyoming ski resorts where we teach and assess understanding of skiing fundamentals from ski instructors. In skiing, there are fundamentals that apply to any type of skiing that all the different nuances of skiing technique is distilled to, and the fundamentals need to be present in some of capacity in order to ski and teach anything proficiently and confidently. 

However, here’s the fun part - once you know and have sound fundamentals, you aren’t necessarily bound to them. 

When you know the fundamentals, you know when to follow them, and when to “break” them.

The same goes for designing. There are certainly people how have “an eye” or have an intuitive feel for design. There’s no doubt that that’s awesome!! However, we truly believe there is no replacement for knowing the fundamentals. I’m fortunate enough as a self-taught designer that Liz went to design school and was taught the fundamentals (and then some) of design. Again, like my skiing, I always had an eye for design, but ultimately I had to go back to the basics and learn design fundamentals from the ground up. It was definitely a process, but it has 100% been worth the time and effort. I have become more proficient and confident in my design process because the design fundamentals are my foundation.

And here’s the awesome thing about fundamentals - anyone can learn them! Whether you feel like you lack natural intuition as a designer or you possess it, we encourage learning and mastering the basics. From there, the possibilities are only limited by how you limit them. 

You’ll be designing out of a place of knowing how and why things work, from a fundamental standpoint, and have the confidence to know what is appropriate for each situation - to color in the lines or not to.