top of page

Using Da Vinci’s Measure To Boost Creativity In Your Workplace

Written by: Dylan Coburn, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Dylan Coburn

Debating at the Paragone in 1498, Leonardo da Vinci made a strong case for the art of painting to be elevated in class from a “mechanical” to a “liberal” art form. He argued that true creativity involves the ability to combine observation with imagination, thereby blurring the lines between reality and fantasy and that this practice was standard for a painter. This argument, presented along with many others raised the status of painting to it being considered a “liberal” art from 1500.

Group of young business people in modern office brainstorming

Therefore, according to Leonardo, Reality and Fantasy are the required synergistic elements for true creativity to occur. I call this Da Vinci’s measure. The measure of a liberal artist.

Employers seeking to build creative teams need liberal artists. Employees who are not merely mechanical –but who utilize what exists, while constantly applying their imagination to better the work. Liberal artists tend to be passionate about their work, inspiring others and snowballing creativity across the whole team.

For example, if I simply sketched exactly what I thought an employer wanted, I wouldn’t be a storyboard artist at all – I’d be a drawing puppet. Useful perhaps, but expendable. More machine than man. Style over substance. Technique over ideas. I know all too well, that the only reason I work as much as I do is because my clients know I’m going to give them everything I’ve got, both in observation and imagination – blending reality and fantasy – each and every day. That way I give them exactly what they want – true creativity.

As an employer, when I’m hiring for my team, I don’t need drawing puppets either. I need artists – real artists. Otherwise, I might as well do the work myself because it has to maintain a creative standard, unattainable through a solely mechanical approach. Reality without Fantasy is not enough. It’s never enough.

But, please consider that if you hire somebody as an artist, you better treat them like one. Many roles are advertised as artistic when they’re solely technical and suited for a candidate with an engineering mindset rather than an artist. Artists will never perform to their potential if hired for their technical skills alone. They’ll quickly get bored, sad, and ultimately look to work elsewhere. Ask yourself – does the role you’re hiring for, require the use of a fertile imagination? No? Well, what you really need is not an artist, but a technician.

However, you might decide that you do in fact need an artist. Excellent! Assess their potential for true creativity by going through two processes:

  1. Review the candidate’s artwork and enquire how they made it. Listen. Converse. Are they observant and technically capable? Have they lifted the potency of the work using their imagination?

  2. Assess their ability to work in a team. Have they done it before? Are they respectful to you and others?

Still excited? Maybe they’re a good fit.

To build a truly creative company environment, you need artists hired using DaVinci’s measure. If an artist shows interest in working with you and your team, is socially respectful, and possesses a powerful synergy of observation/reality and imagination/fantasy, there’s only one thing to do— Hire them!

Follow me on LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!

Dylan Coburn Brainz Magazine

Dylan Coburn, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

From Donald Duck, to Percy Jackson & The Olympians, Dylan Coburn has produced storyboards and managed teams of artists for some of the largest Film/TV productions on the planet. With a focus on finding the most creative ways to evoke real emotion in the viewer, Dylan's sense for visual storytelling pushes boundaries every day – for him, and his collaborators – to make the very best Film/TV.



  • linkedin-brainz
  • facebook-brainz
  • instagram-04


bottom of page