The language of art

Poems are made of sound. Photos conjure up words. Creators, like linguists, endeavor to translate their work into narratives that make sense.

Artists are storytellers just as much as they are makers. They spend some time consuming content but more time recreating it, recasting their influences, inspirations, and identity into their work.

To be in a spot where curiosity overlaps with the fungi of creativity is the ultimate siren song. With a little effort, art can renew your heart and change your life.

If you too want to make something, don’t want another minute. You are the supreme fashion designer of your life.

gif by William Redgrove

When originality fails

We discover our uniqueness through failed conformity. We’re not here to follow. We’re meant to bend standard practices in strange and wonderful directions.

Thinking different is the ultimate motivator. It carves us into individuals. We just have to remember that that’s who we are, purple cows instead of mindless little robots.

“Originality consists of trying to be like everybody else and failing.”

Raymond Radiguet (view books)

When we wield the paintbrush, our imaginative grip never dies. It is then the masses want to steal chunks from us.

When in doubt…

  • Let your art make the rounds. Don’t hide it.
  • Don’t try to be everywhere. Pick a place and be consistent.
  • Rules are recommendations. Feel free to break them, recast, and remix them.
  • Rest when you’re underperforming. Don’t quit.
  • The muse is nonexistent. Inspiration is bunk. Habit is a bicep curl for the brain.

I hope the above helps you push through CRAP (criticism, rejection assholes, pressure). Bonus points for embracing the messy middle

Art via maorisaki

Fighting inertia

We take risks, do the unpredictable, anything to keep the supposed simulation of world guessing. / Fighting inertia #amwriting

Stock phrases, a detailed script, a prescription for exactitude. Imagine how boring life would be if you already knew its outcome.

It’s the routine that subverts our days into yesterday’s form, responding to emails in our head. Sameness destroys creativity.

How can we fight inertia?

We take risks, do the unpredictable, anything to keep the supposed simulation of world guessing.

En medias res, we ensure that we’re performing in the middle of becoming.

art via giphy

Story unbridled

Make yourself not begin.

Keep postponing your creative impulses until you store up some more thinking. The forest always hides secrets.

When you keep gathering string, the variables appear endless. But the extra attending is crucial.

The unbridled story is no longer a diversion when it becomes destiny.

Once the end of the rope ceases to be a pleasurable digression, hold tight and let go.

No one is normal

seth godin we are all weird book cover

The environment that we live in intends to become a part of our mind. But there’s always a mismatch between who we know we are and what others expect us to be.

Human beings are intricate. No one individual is alike. Mimetic thinking makes us feel worse, not better in the long-run.

Conforming is like trying to stuff positive thinking down our throats — it just doesn’t work. Nor does medicating us out of our creative urges.

“It’s human nature to be weird, but also human to be lonely. This conflict between fitting in and standing out is at the core of who we are.” 

Seth Godin, We are all Weird (Amazon)

What does work is the freedom of expression and the celebration of uniqueness. Sure, we are binder by rules and law, but when it comes to taste, we should feel free to do whatever we want.

The internet proves that normal is boring. It is the so-called weird at the edges that are forming niches and making stuff happen.

PS. The ‘No one is normal’ tote bag comes courtesy of The School of Life gift shop. You can also snag more stuff on their Amazon page.  

Collecting references

Without knowledge, it's hard to be curious. We need reference points to make connections and inspire deeper thinking.

Without knowledge, it’s hard to be curious. We need reference points to make connections and inspire deeper thinking. 

Give a teenager a car and a detailed Google Map, but unless they’ve got some training, they are going to increase the likelihood of an accident.

Give a kid some crayons and some looseleaf paper, but without any guidance on how to draw, the results will be comically abysmal. 

Experience puts the bones in the goose. It is only then can we teach ourselves to be safer and more creative. 

Maria Popova talks about writing for herself, creativity, and more on the Tim Ferriss Podcast

Below are some of the highlights of Maria Popova from her interview on the Tim Ferriss podcast. Some of the topics discussed include how to be interesting, on doing the work, and what makes a person creative.

On being interesting

  • “The key to being interesting is being interested and enthusiastic about those interests.”
  • When Kurt Vonnegut wrote “write to please just one person” what he was really saying was write for yourself. Don’t try to please anyone but yourself.
  • Content implies an “external motive” for advertisement. Nobody does content from the joy of their soul. Write because it’s personal and you love it.

Summary: Write for yourself. Stay interested. Don’t call your writing content.

“Love words. Agonize over sentences. Pay attention to the world.”

Susan Sontag

On writing

  • “Becoming” is a life long process. You never stop evolving so what you want to become is never done.
  • The most important aspect to work is consistency. All successful authors are consistent about their work. They show up and do it.

The formula for greatness: “Consistency driven by the deep love of the work.”

On creating

  • You don’t have to have a mental illness to be creative. That’s bunk. Yet without art, you may suffer even more.

On reading

  • “Literature is the original Internet. Every footnote, every citation, every reference, is a hyperlink to another book.” Read books, not just tweets, to find other compelling content.
  • “I read to make sense of life. The writing is a record of the reading.” Moments of time, place, weather, etc impact what you read. As long as it helps make your life better and richer in moment and long run, read it.

On inspiration:

  • Thoreau’s journals are timeless: “Those who work much do not work hard.”

Listen: Podcast: Maria Popova Hosts the Tim Ferriss Show

Creativity is a game of inches

It comes as no surprise that bad work begets good work — the more you create, the more you have to play with.

People mistakenly believe that successful artists excelled all along. But what you see as the viewer is mostly the result of trial and error.

What I enjoy about the internet is that you can show your work. Anyone can put their art out into the world and get immediate feedback, even if the latter is crickets. Dead silence may inspire you to be more expressive, in some cases, intensely provocative.

“It is a joy to be hidden, and a disaster not to be found.”– D.W. Winnicott

It takes a lot of time and a ton of practice to recreate what you consider good taste. It also takes a lot of courage to be one of the crazy ones trying something new. But the artist can’t combat convention until they master the basics first.

From emulation to originality, the entire creative process seems to happen slowly and shimmers when it thinks you’re ready. Until then, cultivating talent is a game of inches.

Leonardo’s strange faces

Leonardo da Vinci made ugly beautiful, an approach Francis Bacon did well to mimic nearly five hundred years later.
Leonardo da Vinci made ugly beautiful, an approach Francis Bacon did well to mimic nearly five hundred years later.
Leonardo da Vinci made ugly beautiful, an approach Francis Bacon did well to mimic nearly five hundred years later.
Leonardo da Vinci made ugly beautiful, an approach Francis Bacon did well to mimic nearly five hundred years later.

There’s an excellent piece in the NY Times about Leonardo Da Vinci’s obsession with drawing weird faces:

Leonardo was a true Renaissance man, fascinated with everything — the mechanics of flight, architecture, engineering, botany, artillery and human anatomy — but one of his favorite private pastimes was to draw faces, either as scribbles in the margins of his notebooks or as fully conceived sketches later used for paintings.

Leonardo da Vinci made ugly beautiful, an approach Francis Bacon did well to mimic nearly five hundred years later.

Risky indecision

risky indecision.png

In the absence of ideas, we’re lost floating at sea.

Weighed down in idea debt, a lack of action can have the same debilitating effect.

Interia is the purported enemy. Just write the truest sentence already.

What works better is facing fear and proceeding right into it.

Keep your eyes on the prize and spend your time wisely, for the latter is never under your control.

Remain undecided at your own risk. Faith knows that even the wrong ideas fail successfully.