How do you live the creative life? I’ve gleaned tips from some of my favorite Creators. For five days I’m writing about these insightful suggestions. Yesterday I wrote Leonardo Da Vinci’s Tips for Artists.
Walking the mile from home to work, my father looks down often to check his step. The sidewalks throughout his home town are old and sometimes uneven. His city Cuenca, is almost 500 years old, after all. The town is named after the birthplace ( in Spain) of its first mayor. But the European Cuenca with its meandering roads, sometimes yielding to hills– sometimes climbing them instead, are wide enough for only light pedestrian traffic. The city grew based on immediate need, like a house expanded by many individual additions, lacking a plan. But my father’s Cuenca is set on a grid with streets wide enough for modern automobile traffic. It’s streets are straight and evenly space. Orderly. Why such a difference in the layout of the two Cuencas? Well, the South American Cuenca was built on a grid, using Vitruvian measurements. It was an ultra modern city in the 1500′s. The other Cuenca, however, developed in medieval time, ultra slow and had no plan.
Vitruvius, a Roman architect born half-a-century before Christ, was obsessed with order. He wrote books detailing his theories on city planning for the Emperor Caesar to peruse. When Rome fell these books were lost. More than a thousand years later, they were re-found and used, among other things, to build my father’s city. But Vitruvious’ ideas reached beyond city planning.
Half-a-century before the founding of Cuenca, Ecuador, when Leonardo Da Vinci needed ideas to perfect his drawing techniques he referenced Vitruvious.
Check out Da Vinci’s Vitruvian man below (based on Vitruvian measurements):
But Vitruvious influenced Da Vinci in more ways than just technique-refinement. Without order-obssesed Vitruvious, Leonardo Da Vinci may have never become the iconic Renaissance man.
In the first chapter– The Education of the Architect, of his first book, Vitruvius described what it takes to build worldly wonders. But, I think you’ll agree, his suggestions are universal for anyone wanting the Good Life for Creativity’s sake.
Check them out below:
- Equip yourself with knowledge of many fields.
- Have both practical skills in your field and a solid understanding of theory.
- Work for excellence but stay teachable.
- Learn how to draw.
- Study geometry and physics.
- Read history.
- Understand music.
- Have some knowledge of medicine.
- Know how the law works.
- Be acquainted with astronomy and the theory of the heavens.
I think that men have no right to profess themselves architects hastily, without having climbed from boyhood the steps of these studies and thus, nursed by the knowledge of many arts and sciences, having reached the heights of the holy ground of architecture.
The plan Vitruvius outlined for architects, Da Vinci used to become a true Vitruvian man.