Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. Michigan is an amazing state filled with natural and man-made beauty. Both my sister Angel and my brother Ben worked as landscapers in southeast Michigan this summer. I interviewed Ben, an engineering student, about his experiences in the world of design and creativity that landscaping envelops you in, as well as where he got his inspiration from. Here is what Ben had to say when we talked about his summer job:
What do you do?
I am a foreman for a landscaping architecture company that works on many projects, from putting mulch in, to redoing an entire backyard to fit the customer’s requirements.
What do you enjoy most about what you do?
I enjoy the hands-on and creative touch that I get to add to each project. I get to watch it turn from nothing into something and I enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that I am the one that did it. I put the work in, and now, to the person that will look at it daily that the world is a little brighter and they can enjoy themselves a little more.
Where do you get the inspiration from to design your landscaping features?
Nature, the simplest answer yet and the one that looks the best. Nature is God’s gift to mankind so to imitate that is something that takes time and patience, but when it’s done it provides a little bit more happiness in the world.
How does what you do with landscaping relate to what you are studying with engineering?
Engineering and landscaping are similar on multiple levels. Both involve the design process to implement what was just on paper into the real world and the complications and problem solving involved with each challenge that arises. Cleaning up the work and presenting the finished product to the client, making sure that everything that they saw in their head was now right in front of them is the final step for both landscaping and engineering. Taking what other people want and getting it just right so that they can have what they need is exactly what engineering is all about.
Before this job, did you consider yourself a creative person? What about now?
I don’t know about being a creative person. I would say that I’m more of a creative problem solver. I am not always great at coming up with something by myself, but I like to think that I am good at talking about what other people see and putting my spin on it to make it work, but still make it my own.
What can you say to someone who is struggling to find inspiration or come up with creative ideas?
The best way to solve something is to try it. You never know what challenges you can overcome if you don’t try what you come up with.
Any last thoughts on design, inspiration, and creativity?
Creativity is like beauty – it’s in the eye of the beholder.
I asked my sister Angel a set of similar questions, and her responses were very close to Ben’s. Angel, unlike Ben, has always been a creative person. Involved in the arts in school and always creating something, Angel has always drawn inspiration from the things surrounding her. What she finds most important is to take all the inspiration that comes from just observing your surroundings and make it your own. She advised to make sure that the finished product is unique and beautiful to you.
You can draw inspiration from anything, and creativity is not defined by coming up with brand new ideas every time you have to create something. Look around you and learn from things that have already been done, let those existing things inspire you to design and create something that is your own. Put your twist on things and create something unique.
From art and music to landscaping and engineering, inspiration can come from anywhere. Get outside and absorb your surroundings and let the world inspire you to create new and beautiful things that will one day be an inspiration for others looking to create new things themselves.
Check out some of Ben and Angel’s “summer fun”: