Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Creative Mornings Talk -- Austin Kleon

Excerpts from Austin Kleon's Creative Mornings Talk. Much of my commentary is about changes I should make to this blog.

I read about this tribe of indigenous people in South America called the Aymara, and they have this very different way of talking about the past and the future.
When they talk about the past, they point to the space in front of them. When they talk about the future, they point behind them.
The past is right in front of us, but the future is behind us.
The future is hard to talk about because it hasn’t happened yet — it’s behind us, where we can’t see it.
Indeed an interesting insight. A note somewhat irrelevant to the rest of the talk: most people's perception of the past is logarithmic. That is, events that are more recent seem farther spaced apart than equally spaced apart events in the past. There's a huge distance between yesterday and today, but not between 5 Jan 1412 and 6 Jan 1412.

I think we’re living through this kind of mass fetishization of creativity. You can see it in the way we use the word "creative" as a noun to describe someone. I think we’re in danger of creativity becoming a fashion, instead of a tool in someone’s toolbelt.
Creativity as a tool--that's good. I tend to enjoy creators' words when they treat art as a craft, as something concrete that can be learned, without all the romanticized ethereal stuff. Which is odd, since I used to really dig the romantic view.

Part of the reason I love the internet so much is that I can put stuff up and if it sucks, nobody will say anything, but if it’s any good, I’ll know, because somebody will tell me.
I know I can do better. Also the ghost town monologue of this blog probably owes something to how I've systematically quit artist gathering sites like deviantArt, Tumblr, etc.

So when I was first starting out, I’d try to go to any book reading I could get to. And I’d bring my sketchbook with me and draw the writers, and take notes.
But then when I got home, instead of just letting my notes and my sketches sit in my notebook, I’d post them to my blog. And I noticed that not only did people seem to dig these recaps, oftentimes I’d hear from the writers themselves. (People love it when you draw them.) That’s when I found out that if you want to make friends with someone on the internet, just say nice things about them. Everybody has a Google alert on their name.
Then, I figured, well, I’m drawing author readings, why not draw books, too? So I started drawing the books I read.
And this was a really important part of starting out for me when I didn’t have a lot of my own work to show — I could show the work of others. I could kind of learn in public.
Learning in public is essentially the point of my other blog. I occasionally post notes here but I'll make them better-organized from now on.

And then, when I started posting a lot of my own work, I tried to blog a lot about my process — I tried to make sure that what I posted was the opposite of all those perfect Moleskine sketchbooks you see online. I wanted people to see my thinking on the page, thinking that was often messy.
I don't share my process as much as, perhaps, I should. Maybe that's because writing stories is less photogenic than creating Kleon-style art. Also, spoilers != good. Would it be too self-indulgent of me to post more information about my characters and world?

It turns out that a good deal of my “work” has been pointing to the work of others.
Good Hunting posts do this is a cursory sort of way.

A lot of artists think sharing their work is merely a matter of putting it where people can see it, but sharing really means opening up and having a relationship with your audience, letting them talk back to you and work alongside you, and learning something from them.
I enjoy coming up with games, and shall continue to do so.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the less of my ego is involved and the more my readers are involved, the more popular my projects tend to be.
This explains everything.

So I want to lay down a challenge for us.
I hope we’ll not just talk about finished work, but talk about our works-in-progress.
I hope we’ll show work we’re not 100% sure about yet.
I hope we’ll talk not just about what we’ve figured out, I hope we’ll talk about what we haven’t figured out.
I hope, like the Aymara, we’ll talk about not just what’s in front of us that we can see, but what’s behind us, what we can’t see.
I hope we’ll show our successes, but we’ll also show our failures. The good and the bad and the ugly of doing creative work.
*spoilers* Friday I'll probably talk about my current WIP.

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