I have been thinking a lot about a book my son gave me called Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon and how it relates to our work here at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“Creativity is Subtraction,” Kleon tells us, and it doesn’t seem to make sense at first. I mean, think back to grade school, you just had to have the 64-count box of crayons. The 8-pack was just not good enough.
But, think about it some more. With the 64-count, what do you color an orange? Do you use Orange, maybe Burnt Orange, Yellow Orange, Tan, Red Orange, Burnt Sienna, Bittersweet?
With so many possibilities, you sit there unsure what to do. Having so many options is actually paralyzing.
Meanwhile, your buddy with eight crayons just used basic Orange, maybe added some tinting with plain old Red, had time to draw a really good fruit, then finished way before you and went to play. Austin Kleon’s point is that by limiting choice we don’t constrain creativity – we empower it.
The same thing happens when we approach conservation. All the wild life, and all the habitats they occupy, are a limitless palette with which to paint. And our first instinct is to paint with all of them.
But it can paralyze us. There are just so many species we have to care for.