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Tag: making

Finding a Center to Hold To

Finding a Center to Hold To

If you’re lucky, it’s more art. But even if you have a specific task or ritual of creativity you return to again and again, that becomes the base from with you go out into the wilds. Metaphorically.

The Good Drawings and the Bad Drawings Are Always in You

The Good Drawings and the Bad Drawings Are Always in You

There’s a very popular trope that gets thrown around all the time—without qualification—that

you, a prospective artist, have 10,000 bad drawings in you, and until you get them out, you won’t be good.

But I’m here to tell you that you can always make a bad drawing. Or song. Or film.

It isn’t that artists are just good one day, after climbing the mountain of practice and forever rolling greatness down its slopes. You get to a place where you’re used to how it feels to be in flow, how your muscles work in concert to get things composed in a pleasing (or at least intentionally specific) way, and you know better when to stop.

But you can always, and will occasionally, make a crummy drawing. That’s perfectly fine, you can always make another. No one has to see the bad one.

This matters to know, because if you make a lame piece of work, and you think you’re past such stumbles, you’ll get discouraged and depressed, and it’ll be harder to make the next thing. Don’t worry about getting past your bad drawings. Just keep making things at all, and they’ll be few.

Getting Past Your Need for Perfection and Finishing Your Work Is Vital

Getting Past Your Need for Perfection and Finishing Your Work Is Vital

There’s no shortage of creativity coaches out there. Advice abounds on techniques and tools, finding styles, getting inspired and so on. I don’t think it’s stated enough that you should finish your things. People really do get stuck in attempts to make the best thing they can make.

In art school, you often have no choice about finishing pieces, because there’s a bloody deadline breathing down your neck with a fearsome fiery breath, and you’re going to damn well get your ass in gear. I think this is an advantage to paying money for art school. You get a set of projects and have to complete them.

I tend to believe you should:

  1. Work. Exercise your praxis. Do the thing.
  2. Finish the stuff you begin.
  3. Make another thing.

It’s totally true that a lot of would-be artists/writers/musicians never get anything done because they can’t start. They’re so wrapped up in the vision and their (imagined) inability to match it, fear stops them cold. They’re the Never-Good-Enoughs.

Then there are those who start a boatload of things because, hey, art! But they never finish them because it’s hard to get through the boring middle part where you realize it’s a hell of a lot of work to complete things. These are the Forever-Beginners.

One secret I learned pretty fast is that your finished piece will never match your vision—except in extraordinarily rare circumstances. The artists who get a lot of shit done are very okay with this fact, and by getting a lot of stuff done, ironically, they get ever closer to matching their vision to their work.

it happens gradually, but you need things to compare to, and there’s nothing that shows your progress more than the thing you made three years ago, if you kept making things along the way. This is being simply an artist. You’ll learn how long you should take on a piece the more you make.

The Time Dilation Effect on a Rainy Day

The Time Dilation Effect on a Rainy Day

Today was a strange day. It seemed to stretch on for hours longer than it’s allotted time, when no matter what I did, there was still more time before work.

But it was nice, and reminded me of the sensation you get when you lose yourself in the flow of art making. Time just seems to open up and you lose yourself in the work. More of those days, please.

Doing at Least One Thing in the Spirit of the Ideal

Doing at Least One Thing in the Spirit of the Ideal

Just the image, and a mindfulness of what I’m after, here. I think the thought of giving helpful advice can toughen after a while. I’m not sure how much more wracking my brain for different things to say about making art is than keeping on making a brand new image. I’m

Not sure that isn’t just the nature of this dualistic mash-up that I’ve started.

The Experience of Failure and Its Diminishing Negative Effects

The Experience of Failure and Its Diminishing Negative Effects

NaNoWriMo has come and gone. For the second time, I haven’t finished my novel. I have failed to do something.

It’s really no big deal. I fail at a lot of things I try. So does anyone who attempts anything big, or beyond their comfort zone, their routine. Unless you were all talk, it matters that you didn’t just say you were going to do something, but that you actually tried. The important thing is to recognize you broke out of the regular day and leapt.

There are always lessons to learn in any creative attempt. The things we learn today can be applied to what we do tomorrow. They help make those things easier, and there will be successes based on everything we know and have learned. And, often, we had fun! There was joy in making things we didn’t know how to make.

The more we try these new things, unfamiliar things, harder and deeper and more demanding things, the more we learn about life, ourselves, and creativity. The more we do them, the less importance failure has on our existence, and the easier it is to try something else that’s new, or that we know better how to complete.

The fact that I fell down isn’t as important. Getting up and keeping moving forward is.

What’s the Biggest Enemy As a Creator/Maker?

What’s the Biggest Enemy As a Creator/Maker?

I think it used to be fear. It still is a huge problem, but most of us face distraction to a degree never seen before.

Like calling yourself a writer because you write, if you make stuff, you’re a creator, or an artist. That’s it! No one can tell you when you’re allowed to be one, and by opposite turn, no one will stop you from not making. Indulge in distraction too long and it’s procrastination, then blockage, and finally you aren’t a creator any more.

It isn’t always easy, but it is a simple path. The most basic identity comes from what we do, and thus what we are.

Fighting Nihilism May Be a Neverending Battle With Yourself and the World

Fighting Nihilism May Be a Neverending Battle With Yourself and the World

Nothing matters, everything is ultimately meaningless, all art is pointless effort.

So says a really powerful voice in my head that shows up with annoying frequency. I’m not going to tell you how to defeat that voice for good. I do not know.

But there’s a way out of any kind of defeatist spiral, and that is to understand that the opposite reaction is strangely as valid. It’s very human to observe and to create. It makes us who we are, in part. If it doesn’t matter whether or not we make art, we might as well keep making it because it speaks to our existential core.

It might be the case that the universe doesn’t care about our work. To be fair and frank, it almost certainly doesn’t, at all. But even if it doesn’t matter in an ultimate sense, it matters in the moment. It matters to us. And since we’re the ones who like it and are inspired by it, art has an arbitrary present value for both its creators and its experiencers.

In the Future, All the Worrying Will Be Done By Robots

In the Future, All the Worrying Will Be Done By Robots

Artists have little to be smug about. There’s nothing inherently so different about art that means it can only ever be done by humans. Maybe by definition that’s the dividing line: artificial creation vs. art, but in time the bots will get better by steps both small and large, and they have nothing but time. Or, at least, in theory they do. For now, we have to keep running and building them, but what’s the point of art at all if no humans can experience it?

From the illustrious kottke.org comes this bit, by Tim Carmody:

How long will it be until Robin’s “California Corpus” is writing novels of its own, when every book is a jazzy cover of a medley of novels we’ve liked before? When writers still get hired, but just to produce enough snippets to keep the synthesizing machines fed? The answer is… probably a very long time. But maybe not long enough.

The thrust of it is that remixing is appealing because it’s giving us things we already like, remixed, and AIs will become good enough eventually to produce art we want to experience, in abundance, instantly.

The thing is, art isn’t far from that now. We’ve always taken the stuff of the past and remixed it in different and new ways. Technology and shared knowledge adds a little to it now and then, but essentially we are all creative DJs. What matters, for as long as it can matter, then, is that we make things with as much humanity as we can muster. Emotional, often irrational, impulsive, desirous, loving humans. The more like ourselves, individually, we can be in our work, the longer it’ll be before bots can match it.