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Van Gogh: ‘These waves are claws, the boat is caught in them, you can feel it.’

Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai finished his most famous work, The Great Wave, at the age of 71. Upon seeing the print, Van Gogh remarked: “These waves are claws, the boat is caught in them, you can feel it.” Read about Hokusai’s great wave: a lesson in persistence

Arts History

Van Gogh’s fascination with Japan

Japanese art flooded Western Europe when in 1854, America forced Japan to open its borders to trade. Some of the prints of Japanese woodcuts made it all the way to Vincent Van Gogh in Paris. He grew obsessed with ukyio-e, or “pictures of the world,” joyful elements he copied into his own art. ‘Seeing with […]

Arts Productivity & Work

Hokusai’s great wave: a lesson in persistence

Can we improve our craft over time? The Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) seemed to think so. “Until the age of 70, nothing I drew was worthy of notice. At 110, every dot and every stroke will be as though alive.” He only lived until 89, but he proved his theory of incremental improvement. He finished his most famous work, […]

Arts Creativity Writing

Creativity lies within

The quest of creativity is really the search for aliveness. It is no wonder that when we spend the time to make and ship our craft, we are happier human beings. To see and have any product resonate is icing on the cake. Few artists ever achieve wide acclaim for their work, even fewer prosper. […]

Arts Creativity

Unoriginal and creative

We build careers off of clever hybrids, sampling the treasure trove of the Internet’s archival content to remix and recast as our own. With a quick copy-paste, anyone with the tools can replicate a beautiful photo, record a song, or publish a book on Amazon. Originality is dead. But that’s not to say it ever […]

Creativity Life & Philosophy Social Media

The only reassurance you need

We treat fame and social media status like currency. We presuppose that anonymity or a lack of engagement trivializes what we do. Even worse, we let TV and Instagram determine our self-worth. But what and who matters is rarely popular. No one wants to pull back the curtain and see the sweat and tears of […]

Arts Creativity Daily Prompts Quotes

‘It is a joy to be hidden, and a disaster not to be found.’

Success bears responsibility. All of a sudden, your work and words mean something because the first time in your life people who you’ve never met are listening to you. It is a joy to be hidden, and a disaster not to be found. D.W. Winnicott The alternative to fame is anonymity. Van Gogh gained recognition […]

Arts Creativity Life & Philosophy Psychology Writing

How to unthink

Knowledge can be a hindrance. The more we know, the more likely we’re to hesitate in times of execution. So the overthinking basketball player misses a wide-open layup, the tennis player misses an easy return, or the painter or writer can’t seem to get their inspiration to convert on a blank canvas. Stalling is a […]

Creativity Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

Loving Vincent: When nobody becomes a somebody 

Vincent Van Gogh was a nobody. He only sold one piece of art while he was alive and it was to his brother! But that’s who we all are at the core — small sprinkles on Earth in a vast universe. If the solar eclipse was any reminder, the cosmos operate whether humans exist or […]

Arts Creativity Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

Staying edgy…

The audience already exists. The hard part is getting them to pay attention to your story. How do you gain a fan base in the era of distraction? You select a specific audience, even one person, and write for them. Different is attractive The first few years of anonymity are the hardest but they are also […]