Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Stealing, Sharing and Creativity

I love going into our R&D Studio because there is always something interesting going on and also because the place is FULL of books.  I can guarantee that every time I walk in there I come out with a book that I want to read.  Last year I read the book Show Your Work by Austin Kleon, and today I as I walked through the R&D Studio I picked up another book he wrote called Steal Like An Artist.  It's a guide to creativity in the digital age which encourages you to school yourself through the work of others, and to remix and reimagine to discover your own path.  It was particularly interesting to me this week because I've started using Khan Academy to learn about art history.  My daughter is studying for her MA in history and history of art and I've often thought how wonderful it is for her to spend her days surrounded by beautiful works of art.  While I toyed with the idea of doing a degree in art history myself at some stage in the future (after retirement?), for me it seemed a more practical idea to make use of the online resources available both on the Google Art Project and KhanAcademy to educate myself now - and to choose exactly what periods of art history I most want to learn about.  I'm hoping that exploring work from various artists will have a knock-on effect on the quality of composition in the photographs I am taking here in India.  So in other words I want to learn how others did things, so that I can try them out myself and become more creative as a result of this influence.

Here is what I'm thinking about today, based on the first 40 pages or so of Steal Like An Artist:

  • Nothing comes from nowhere.  All creative work builds on what came before.  Nothing is completely original.  
  • You have a genealogy of ideas - you are a mashup of what you choose to let into your life. Artists collect the things they love - you're only going to be as good as the stuff you surround yourself with.  Your job is to collect good ideas.  The more good ideas you collect, the more you can choose from to be influenced by.
  • It's in the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are.  
  • We learn by copying.  Copying is about reverse-engineering - taking things apart to see how they work.
  • If you copy from one author it's plagiarism, but if you copy from many it's research.
  • Don't just steal the style, steal the thinking behind the style.  You don't want to look like your heroes, you want to see like your heroes - to internalize their way of looking at the world.
  • At some point you have to move from imitating your heroes to emulating them.  Emulation breaks through into your own thing.  Transforming their work into something of your own is how you flatter your heroes.
More posts about this coming soon.

Photo of a Grade 2 student's painting, influenced by Aboriginal art.

No comments:

Post a Comment