Thursday, July 24, 2008

Imagination vs. Knowledge

 Full quote:

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.

Don't let you pursuit of knowledge about animation (especially the nuts and bolts of how to do it, etc.) obscure your childlike imagination. And certainly never let it frighten you into never trying to do the unknown. And by 'unknown' I don't mean a universal unknown (ie: no human has ever tried or understood this thing you're confronted with). Rather I am talking about your personal universe- what is known and unknown to you. Students so often get caught up in trying to expand the size and scope of what they know. Thus the focus on principles, techniques, methods, etc and the quixotic quest for rock solid formulas and rules that will always work in any situation. The problem is if you're not careful that pursuit for knowledge can drastically shrink your world. Use your imagination to prop open the windows that look out over the wide expanse of the unknown. Try something - anything- that you don't know how to do. Jump and see what happens. If all you ever do is what you know how to do then you become small and limited. The key is to understand the fundamentals without letting them turn you into a fundamentalist. Keep an open mind about how to accomplish different things. Don't be afraid to try something that you've never tried before. And be especially willing to try something where you don't have the faintest clue about how you're going to do it. Once you do that then you have no choice but to unfurl the wings of your imagination and try to fly.

image courtesy of


Unknown said...

Spot on. Thank you.

Unknown said...

Well said Keith... i often fall into the technical side of things and lose focus of what really is at hand, bringing a character or object to life! Thanks for this very important reminder and for being a constant source of inspiration.

Anonymous said...

Your posts are always refreshing!

Anonymous said...

Knowledge isn't the same as information. Knowledge only develops once you apply information practically to learning a skill.

Anyone can go around gathering information on animation but very few apply it diligently enough to the point where it truly becomes knowledge, i.e an ability that is natural and intuitive.

Only then can you really take the next step and start being imaginative.

I can hand a 5 year old, with the most vivid and creative imagination, a brush to paint with but without the skill to represent it, its not going to be expressed very well.

Randy said...

Well, anonymous #2, I think you're taking the comments a bit out of context. Keith's blog is usually read by professionals and students, not kindergarteners. Within that context, I totally agree with Keith's comments.

Forcing yourself to do things when you don't already know how to do them is one of the best methods I've found for learning how to do something. Whether in art or in life in general.

There's a time to gather info, and to carefully apply it, but thre's also an appropriate time to throw all that to the wind and *try* something.

Keep it up, Keith, great post! Glad you're getting back into the swing of posting.


Dshum said...

Wow, thanks for that!
My heart was beating hard at every word in that post. That made me want to go and do something!

Александра said...

Like Remy says: 'Pure poetry'. I love 'Ratatouille' and I love words like this, they are most important than other ones because they are inspired. Imagination and inspiration... Yes!

Breadwig said...

unless you're content to be surly and stagnant like myself.

Anonymous said...

The other night we were talking to a school teacher who'd just spent the day making claymation films with some junior school kids. Despite having very little knowlege their imagination ensured that they had great short films.

Keith Lango said...

I can hand a 5 year old, with the most vivid and creative imagination, a brush to paint with but without the skill to represent it, its not going to be expressed very well.

This is a fundamentalist technical assumption- one that says a pre-requisite for expression is accuracy of form or some adherence to the 'rules' of good imagery. Anybody who has really taken the time to look at the pictures that children make knows that they are every bit as expressive- and certainly more honest and free- than 99.5% of the stuff that skilled grown ups make. Children's imaginations aren't hedged in by technical know how, they have little concept of a 'bad drawing'. To them it's just a picture and it says something about their world- something very honest. Honesty without veils is the ultimate in expression if you ask me.

Unknown said...

very well put Keith. that's exactly where artists spend their lives trying to get back to, that level of honesty in expression.