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Empirical Engineer

Part 2

· Empirical Engineer

Some artists may not have went to art school.

But they may have paintings in art galleries around the world.

Take Vincent van Gogh for instance. Arguably, one of the most iconic artists with some of the most recognized work.

Van Gogh? Had mentors he was influenced by, but no formal training. His idol, one of my favorite artists, Paul Gauguin, was only able to spend 60 some days with Van Gogh before he needed to escape his crazy, reckless personality. He even criticized his work space as messy, unorganized and chaotic. He was in disbelief of all the 'rules' Van Gogh would 'break' as he put his vision to canvas.

I use this example for a couple of reasons. 1) Gauguin was in disbelief of the results based on the conditions and no formal training. 2) Van Gogh, in about 2 months time with one of his idols, was able to enhance his work considerably.

Van Gogh didn't even begin painting until his twenties, and died in his late thirties. But that was enough time to create over 900 paintings and another 1,200+ sketches and drawings. Over 2,000 pieces of work in, let's say 15 years. That's nearly 12 world class pieces of art each month. By the same measure, Paul Gauguin's 30-year career accomplished 500.

By comparison, Claude Monet is credited for around 2,500 paintings and sketches in almost 50 years. Additionally, he had formal education in Paris at Academie Suisse, that started his career as an artist.

So, what does any of this have to do with Empirical Engineering? I like to think everything. Formal education is definitely one way to achieve results, gain skills and collaborate with top minds in any field.  But as we know, that is not for everyone. Experience and experimenting does indeed amount to something. I'd consider Vincent van Gogh to be an Empirical Engineer. Despite his internal and external chaos and struggles, he clearly had a 'method to his madness'. It may not have been embraced by Paul Gauguin, and it may not have been learned in the most prestigious of art schools like Claude Monet, but in half the time and with none of the education, he's equally accomplished.  

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