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Arts Creativity

The great German artist Albrecht Dürer

Envious of the Italian artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael, the German artist Albrecht Dürer ventured to Italy in 1496 to prove his worth as a painter. He had already gained a reputation for his woodcut prints.

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The Sea Monster (1498) © Getty

After years of hanging out in Venice and gathering the technique of oil paintings, he created one of his most notable pieces, Feast of the Rosary, In 1506.

“I also silenced all the artists who said I was good at engraving but, as a painter, I did not know how to deal with colors. Now everyone says they have never seen more beautiful colors.”

Albrecht Dürer

At first, we develop good taste and copy. With time, we originate. 

Dürer is still considered “the greatest of all German artists.”

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Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

The two essential phases in the creative process

There are two essential phases in the creative process.

The spontaneous phase is where ideas sprout, unintentionally and seemingly out of nowhere. Everything interesting goes in the hopper, including the slightest observation, things seen, imagined, overheard, or misheard.

Whether it’s a notebook or your phone when you’re gathering string, the medium is less important than recording.

“I’m not writing it down to remember it later,
I’m writing it down to remember it now.”

Field Notes

The best notebook is the one you have with you. But seeing the world starts with being open to the repetition of arbitrary stimulus and its messy upshot: discovery.

The revision phase is where ideas get pieced together like a puzzle.

You go through all your notes, images, sketches, etc. for the purposes of synthesizing concepts and tossing away others.

When you start to piece together artifacts, revelations seems to arise out of epiphany. But there is no such thing as immediate discovery — such is the aggregation of everything we learned along the way.

The two-fold creative process never changes so it’ll always be there to fall back on if and when you feel stuck. First, we collect, and then we deduce.

The more you practice the creative process the better you get at connecting ideas and turning them into reality.

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Creativity Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

Doubting our own self-doubt

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The only way to allay doubt is to do. We must face our biggest fears. Perhaps the only thing holding back J.K. Rowling from success was her fear of public speaking — she did it anyway.

It’s most often the thing we’re scared of is exactly the thing we should be doing. It takes courage to persist with tension that wants us to simply give up.

Accept doubt for what it is — it’s there to make you practice and force your confidence. It takes some getting used to.

The trick is not to get rid of uncertainty but rather to play with it, to feel its presence, to caper around as we relax into it. The approach is a bit delusional but no more faulty than suffering more in the imagination than in reality.

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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 a Van Gogh, who toiled in obscurity his entire living life. He never knew publicity.

Even if you’ve achieved some level of recognition, what you consider your best work will almost always contrast with the public perception.

At the end of the day, humans want to feel necessary. They want to commit themselves to a worthy discipline, whether’s it’s expressed through art or driving an Uber to support the art or vice versa.

It’s a canard to think that fame predetermines whether you matter or not. The most important things in your life are provided by the most anonymous people.

Fame is fake stimuli. If you feel like your work matters, that’s the only placebo you need.

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Books Creativity Quotes Writing

Ta-Nehisi Coates: made for the library, not the classroom

“I was made for the library, not the classroom. The classroom was a jail of other people’s interests. The library was open, unending, free.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates
Categories
Arts Books Creativity

‘A dragon day is a day when you refill your creative well’

4. Everyone needs a dragon day. In the middle of my burned-out period of the challenge, I started sculpting little dragons out of clay, just for fun. I did this on Sundays, which is my permanent day off from painting (thirty-in-thirty challenge or not, I still wasn’t planning to paint on Sunday). When I was talking to my sister about how I was feeling so uninspired about painting, but so excited about making cute little dragons, she started calling Sundays my “dragon day.” And I liked that idea so much that I now call Sundays my dragon day, whether I’m sculpting a little dragon or putting together a photo album or baking a new yummy treat. A dragon day is a day when you refill your creative well; it’s a day to do anything creative that you want, just for fun, with no expectations that anything will come of it other than the joy you get from the act of creating.

This reminds me of the author Tim Wu’s piece in which he observes that today’s Instagrammable edited real-life era has pressured people into hobbies only where they can excel. Instead, he implores people to enjoy a hobby for the hobbies sake.

The exploration of imperfect creativity produces a raw pleasure one can’t find in meticulous planning.