By Kyle Studstill.
Diligence is perhaps one of the most powerful tools in an artisan’s toolbox, but it can be too easily confused with the notion of simply following rules. I make scarves, and as part of my process, I cherish opportunities to employ diligence while also following a strong set of rules, but I didn’t always feel this way. When I was younger, I remember feeling very strongly that “rules are meant to be broken,” and indeed, the young artist often feels that creative work is entirely about breaking rules, that following rules makes the final work less creative. Of course, as we mature, we realize that it is only once you know the rules that you can break them effectively. Experienced artisans learn to use the rules that make their work better, and learn to break the rules that don’t.
diligence is sort of about following rules, I’ve found that there’s something even more powerful about than a lesson I’ve learned through other artisans
I was first inspired to start thinking about the power of diligence by a designer named Craig Mod. He frequently shares his extensive experience designing books and other products, and in a smart reflection here points out that “thoughtful decisions concerned with details marginal or marginalized conspire to affect greatness.” In what proves to be an he goes on to talk about the kinds of thoughtful decisions that go into literal margins—those of a book—but his point is about all the details that are easily overlooked and unnoticed by but the designer hat is, until the designer overlooks them as well—for even if the reader doesn’t consciously notice carelessness in these details, “they will feel the difference,” Craig notes. “This you must believe.”
In this way, diligence for me has becomethe reason to follow in part for the sake of the work, but more importantly for the sake of the recipient and what they feel when they receive the work.
You may have be aware of strange quirk of the design worldmany architects and designers find themselves trying their hand at making chairs. But if you consider a chair something like a really small building meant for a single person, you can imagine a opportunity to use design to connect with another human in a personal way
The level of care and attention to detail that comes only with diligence can be a cherished opportunity to speak with a single other, in tones more powerful than words: “I respect you as another human who experiences the world, and your experience of this work matters.” I’ve come to think of artisanship in this way an opportunity to use diligent work to show others that they matterthat we really, truly care.