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The Idiosyncratic Duck

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The weird, subtle art of creativity.

The Collins English Dictionary says “If you describe someone’s actions or characteristics as idiosyncratic, you mean that they are rather unusual.”

…a highly idiosyncratic personality …his erratic typing and idiosyncratic spelling.

Creativity can elude many of us when we need it most. It’s kind of like writers block, but if you’re not writing what do you call it? Is it just mental block? But my brain is still working just fine… i don’t feel blocked, i just can’t express my brain images onto the paper/into the computer as a thing. The thing being in my case a design or piece of content that i need to ensure leaves my client with a big smile on their face like they’ve just eaten their favourite meal. ‘Creativity’ it seems is as much a gift some days as it can be a curse on others when your imagination takes hold and you begin to wonder why you can’t just stroll down to the shop’s to buy your chicken a scratchy (i mean chicken’s love to scratch… it kind of makes sense). 

The below is some musings from a Monday where i was struggling to find the spark. The bit of creativeness that allows me to put a smile on peoples faces and create something that hopefully will in its own little way, change the world one day.

A typical day… kind of.

Monday 23rd, Last Month-ish, 2023

Captain’s log… just kidding. So as i sat on another Monday morning, sipping my coffee and reminiscing on the events of the weekend i wistfully let slip through the time net, i found my mind searching for inspiration. A long list of things to do and items to tick off my list, all of them requiring brain power, but when i looked over at the fuel tank it read empty and the coffee hadn’t hit yet. The work from home life feels different since COVID. What used to be a rare treat of your own surroundings has become the norm for many. Some manage to find solace in the quiet, others prefer the noise of the office to quieten their inner voice and find clarity in the fog. I am definitely the former. 

I open Slack and look to see what my fellow peers and co-workers have to say. Maybe they will provide some inspirational story or music piece that will elevate my soul and kick me down the garden path. But to no avail, everyone is gearing up for their week and can spare me no alternative to awaiting the caffeine surge.

But wait… a post from a friend! They seem happy about something and they start to get traction and people reacting to their post. Oh, they’ve just successfully released some new work and the clients thrilled! The applause, party and celebratory emoji’s follow. I go to click to partake in the same then i stop myself…and pause. 

*clicks on the Duck emoji*

Irrelevant and nothing to do with the post whatsoever. The duck has one person who’s added it…me. But why? Well, why not. I’ve long held a belief that if we had a parallel universe where everything else was the same but humans were not here, there is an opportunity for duck’s to step-up into the mantle of power and rule supreme. That however is a story for another time. (Is Scrooge McDuck perhaps some mythology from an alternate timeline? Who knows…)

But seriously why the duck?

The duck symbolises nothing, yet when you add it as a reaction, you’ve just utterly dumbfounded and confused the original post creator. They are now sat wondering why you reacted with a duck. Does the duck hold a higher meaning? Did you mis-click? Was it intended as an inside joke? Or is the duck simply a duck. Irregardless you now have began to humour yourself because you are also beginning to think about all the possible ways the original slack post-er may be reacting or feeling and imagining the range of emotions & scenarios they are currently going through. 

You’re quite clearly “quackers” you think to yourself. You chuckle, and the day has begun.

The duck held the key. By adding a random duck to the post, you utilised the part of your brain that is silly, childlike and is also the best portion of your brain for creative-ness and innovation. The duck becomes meaningful. It awakens your creative juices like a smoothie at a Boost Juice Bar, it’ll enlighten your day and will increase your chances of going on a date with Scarlett Johannson by 15%* whilst simultaneously making you 2cm taller (*don't fact check me on that).

So do we just ‘wing’ it?

In the Design world, in order to come up with something new, we need to consider that instead of following the normality that we were once told in school or by our parents during our upbringing, we can be free to question the norm and sometimes ‘get silly’. Children often have some of the most creative solutions to the most complex problems through their honesty, innocence and creativeness all whilst playing. Unfortunately as adults, we are conditioned and taught to not play, not get silly and a lot of the time have lost the portion of us that allows us to open up and explore ideas as we are overwhelmed with the fear of failure. Something children do not (for the most part) experience. 

I consider myself extremely lucky that i get to turn up to a workplace that not only embraces you when you fail but encourages the psychological safety to do so. “Fail Fast” is one of the companies core values and is reminded to us by our leadership constantly to encourage us to step outside of the normality and to begin to explore the uncertain, un-chartered waters of modern digital technology.

I often think about, ‘we only know what we know’. We are exactly where we are right now because the ways of thinking that we hold, have gotten us to this point. Going against the grain and questioning the norm presents opportunities for change, and inspires others to do the same. That is how we innovate & change. It’s why we grow and change as people. As we intake new information we adapt ourselves to align to the new reality we now know and thus we change as people. 

What you may consider to be small, infinitesimal and meaningless may actually be the very thing that is your muse. I find myself surrounded by people who are all as wonderfully weird and bizarre as i am within my team. They are all my ducks that i draw inspiration and learnings from. I have found my inspiration and find myself lucky enough that i get to come to work each day to solve problems with others that may (or may not) change the world. By providing randomness to the daily lives of others, i hope that i can continue to bring about change with the simple use of an emoji every now and then. 

All this from a duck.

Quack, quack.