Monday, September 10, 2012

Between Books - The Imagineering Way

Cover - The Imagineering Way
We can all agree that the artists of Walt Disney Imagineering (WDI) create magic.  But how does an idea move from idea to concept to final attraction?  The book The Imagineering Way by The Imagineers gathers the collected creative wisdom of WDI and attempts to show how non-Imagineers can use the same principles in their everyday work and creative lives.
The Imagineering Way consists of small essays written by a number of WDI staff.  These include well known Imagineers including Tony Baxter, Marty Sklar, John Hench and honorary Imagineer Richard Sherman.  But being in the public eye is not a key to selection of inclusion in the book as a number of lesser known Imagineers contribute to the book.  Contributors range across a number of WDI disciplines including story, lighting, artists, and engineers.  The essays range from a page in length to no more than five pages.  Some of the essays are not even really essays but doodles, quotes and poems.  The essays are grouped into five main topics including brainstorming, building a culture, creativity, and multi-tasking. 
I have wanted to read this book for several years, ever since I saw it lying on a shelf in a Downtown Disney store in Orlando.  I have contemplated picking it up several times and have pushed it off until my most recent vacation.  I probably built too much anticipation over the years as I found myself slightly disappointed.  I do not think the book falsely advertised what it was, but I do not believe I truly understood what it was.  I was expecting a cohesive creative manual for non-Imagineers.  Instead the book is a series of quick hits which are only loosely held together.  Once one understands the style of the book it is possible to mine nuggets of wisdom from the WDI team which can be used in your non-Imagineering life.  In fact, I believe this book is highly quotable, and I could see stealing quotes from this text in the future especially as tweets.  Additionally, readers should not expect this book to include detailed concept art or discussions of WDI disciplines.  The book focuses on the philosophy of creativity not the artistic skills needed to develop a final WDI project. 
The Imagineering Way attempts to connect the philosophy of Imagineering to the non-Imagineering community.  It offers the common man the ideas that help guide Imagineers and makes suggestions on how these principles can be used beyond the walls of WDI.

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