Hi everyone, I’m Klara and I’m a scanner.
I’m a developer, a concept designer, an ‘ideas-man’, a creator- I’m the heavy guns to bring in to conceive a project. Barbara Sher coined the term, ‘scanner’ to describe people that are interested in everything and seem to lack focus in one particular area;
Intense curiosity about numerous unrelated subjects is one of the most basic characteristics of a Scanner. Scanners are endlessly inquisitive. In fact, Scanners often describe themselves as being hopelessly interested in everything (although, as you’ll find out, this isn’t so). A Scanner doesn’t want to specialize in any of the things she loves, because that means giving up all the rest. Some even think that being an expert would be limiting and boring.
Our society frowns on this apparent self-indulgence. Of course, it’s not self- indulgence at all; it’s the way Scanners are designed, and there’s nothing they can or should do about it. A Scanner is curious because he is genetically programmed to explore everything that interests him.
Scanners, also known as renaissance personalities, are chronic unfinishers. I find that once I’m good at something, I lose interest. I have a delightful set of unfinished paintings and drawings because once something starts to look really nice… I’m done. Time to move on.
Professional projects are different- finishing is expected and non-negotiable, but when I’m under my own steam many projects get abandoned. I’m just interested in everything. I can go into a bookstore and soak up books on any subject- everything is potentially exciting- my brain is like a sponge that needs to soak up information. I’m also wired up to make connections and spot patterns, and I need to saturate my brain with enough information for this to happen. When I start a client project, I will read up on the subject matter and around unlikely related topics to find a lesser known or new connection. I did this often when I was studying to write unique theory essays; my lecturer even adapted his lecture on a particular film after reading my essay.
I seek work that asks the best from me, because I know full well that I’m not a natural finisher. I’m fully capable of finishing, but it’s just not where I shine. I’ll do it, but for me it feels like doing my accounts (and who wants to do their accounts, really?)
I’ve sweated over what I should be really doing with my life- hoping that I’d finally find focus if I just found the right thing. Life looks so simple to those people that just have a definite passion, that one guy that sits up and plays guitar constantly; Picasso painting, Beethoven playing piano…
Some days I desperately wish I just had one talent and interest. You only need to look around my website to see that I have a lot of interests, or ‘fingers in a lot of pies’ as I’m often told. I’m naturally good at many things too. I’m academic; I was my year groups A grade student before I went to art school. I have an analytical brain and I’m also highly creative which doesn’t help narrow anything down.
Barbara Sher suggests a few strategies for scanners in her book ‘I could do Anything if only I knew what that was.’ One thing that stuck with me was the idea of an umbrella career. She suggests that certain careers suit scanners because they allow study and exploration of different topics. Writing is an umbrella career; you can write about anything! I also find that illustration is a good one; I enjoy hunting for reference pictures, topics and inspiration. The blank page is my oyster.
I think we have to work with what we have rather than try to squash our square selves into round holes. Think of it as having texture; an artist works with the properties and limitations of their materials. If you sew, you’re conscious of where the fabric bias is; if you work with wood; you work with the grain.