Visual Thinking does not equate to artistic skill

The previous post featured the “Draw a Person DAP test” There is so much wrong about this test that the assumptions, interpretations, conclusions, usages and nonsense behind it have me speechless. However, there is one assumption that needs talked about: intelligence cannot be conflated with drawing skill. The ability to draw is “native” to some people; many more can be taught / trained to draw passably well. This “artistic ability” cannot be exploited if the person is not curious about “how things appear” and a critical observer. Drawing was for centuries a task that was elemental to becoming a professional artist, but today a person can staple his or her sneakers to a wall and be hailed as a genius.

I’m Asperger; a visual thinker, which has nothing to do with the skill of drawing, which I totally lack. (Asperger clumsy?) and yet I worked for many years as an advertising art director and designer, as well as “making art” for self-expression. I could not draw to save my ass.

I was ridiculed, chided, laughed at and queried by clients who tried to decipher my layouts. “You can’t draw? How did you get this job?”


Well, because creative people are creative at working around obstacles. One art director I worked with was blind in one eye. He just didn’t tell anyone. I made collages; pieces cut from magazines, resized, hand colored, worked into (sometimes scary looking) layouts: ideas presented and mostly understood. In a way, I was lucky: back in the dark ages before computer image software, everything was done by hand. If you presented a realistic detailed layout of an ad or illustration, well by God! the finished piece had better look just like the layout.

My strange ambiguous layouts let me get away with changing whatever I decided to change. Sometimes people noticed, mostly no one did. Everything was fine really, as long as the finished product was successful, (if a bit of a surprise.)

As far as the DAP test goes: the drawings I made as a 4-year old would have condemned me to the basement of psychological assessment. When I was in my 20s and 30s, my drawings would have done the same. Thankfully, no one ever judged my intelligence by my drawing ability, and I discovered photography along the way.





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