Wabi Sabi is a Japanese reference to something that is somewhat imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. It is the result of taking something perfect and messing it up a little in a way only we know how. This doesn’t mean it is always done intentionally. Most often it is a kind of idiosyncratic affect that develops in our work by accident. It is only through mastering our craft that we can teach ourselves to spot it. And only through training that we can learn to recreate it.
The greatest benefit of mastering Wabi Sabi is that it allows us to create genuinely original work because it is difficult to recreate elements that are difficult to spot.
Adam Lisagor from Sandwich Video is a master of Wabi Sabi. His clients include Ebay, Yahoo, Airbnb and Uber for a reason. Each video his team creates for these big brands is somewhat off-centre and imperfect. And yet this is exactly why we become hooked.
“You follow the rules – maybe you shoot with the rule of thirds in mind – but then you throw some other pop of colour or you mess something up a little bit, and it has this effect that’s not reproducible because it’s chaotic.”
– Adam Lisagor
Luckily, we all have access to Wabi Sabi. Each of us our own unique Wabi Sabi thumbprint. The trick to letting it shine through in our work is to be open-minded enough to let it in, whilst being closed-minded enough not to let it escape.