Brain Pickings

Posts Tagged ‘creativity’

10 MAY, 2011

Justin Gignac on Idea Envy and Embracing Imperfection

By:

What the garbage of New York City has to do with monetizing the starving artist archetype.

We’re longtime fans of artist Justin Gignac. (It’s jee-nak, if you just mentally tongue-twisted there.) In this wonderful, albeit tech-glitch-ridden, talk from this year’s PSFK Conference, he reveals the creative process behind some of most acclaimed projects, including Wants for Sale, NYC Garbage and QRapping paper, and shares his merit litmus test for what constitutes a great idea.

I get motivated by idea envy. I get super insanely jealous of great ideas that I see of others, I get jealous of that moment where I know they had that idea, and I want that, I want to feel that. So I set out to emulate that, and compete with that, and find that in myself.” ~ Justin Gignac

You can’t wait for perfection. You can always wait for the perfect moment, the perfect this, the perfect that. But you really just gotta start doing. And it makes all the difference. Making excuses takes the same time as making progress.” ~ Justin Gignac

Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.

19 APRIL, 2011

Bompas & Parr, Jelly Architects

By:

Last year, we looked at artists creating incredible edible landscapes out of food, condiments and spices. But hardly does the unusual medium become a greater feat of architecture than when its raw material is the least architectural of substances: jelly. Just ask British food consultancy Bompas & Parr, better known as Jellymongers.

In this short documentary, Sam Bompas and Harry Parr talk about the whimsical “food experiences” they’re known for, and how they rendered everything from St. Paul’s Cathedral to Buckingham Palace in gelatinous form using their signature blend of science, cutting-edge technology and architecture — just the kind of cross-pollinating of disciplines we believe is fundamental to creativity.

The whole reason we events is to give people their own stories. They’re very active participants. If you go into a restaurant, you don’t want to be talked at by a waiter the entire time. Actually, the really important thing is the conversations you have with your diners around us and around the food.”

The film comes from the fine folks at Berlin-based visual culture mongers Gestalten, who also brought us the excellent Shepard Fairey interview on copyright, Big Brother and social change, among other fantastic micro-documentaries about creative culture mavericks and pioneers.

Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.

15 APRIL, 2011

Jonathan Harris: The Storytelling of Life

By:

We love artist Jonathan Harris, who previously delighted us with the We Feel Fine project, World Building in a Crazy World, I Want You To Want Me, and The Whale Hunt. When he turned 30, he decided to start taking one photo every day and posting it to his site before going to sleep — a seemingly simple, private project that soon turned into a fascinating exploration followed by thousands of people around the world. Our friends from m ss ng p eces — you remember them, right? — are back with another lovely documentary, capturing the project and the vivid, earnest curiosity with which Harris approaches the world.

I wanted to find a way to be more in the moment, to be more in every day; to understand time more and to understand my life more, to have more memories — all of these things. Basically, to live more richly, as a human life, not just as a work life.” ~ Jonathan Harris

No matter what you do in your life, what you create, what career you have, whether you have a family or kids, or make a lot of money… your greatest creation is always going to be your life’s story. Because it’s like this container that holds all of those other things. That was something I was really interested in with this project, thinking about life itself as a creation, as a story that you’re writing.” ~ Jonathan Harris

Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.

13 APRIL, 2011

David Friedman’s Portraits of Inventors

By:

What Instagram has to do with ice fishing and specialty chairs for canoodling.

For the past few years, New-York-based photographer David Friedman has been taking portraits of inventors — those ordinary people who came up with ordinary-seeming things that transform lives, often our lives, in extraordinary ways. Rather than lofty and fluff-padded, like many such efforts tend to be, these profiles blend humility with creative restlessness, demystifying invention and reframing it not as the idle blessing of some arbitrary muse but as the product of combinatorial creativity and one’s everyday life experience.

STEVEN SASSON: THE DIGITAL CAMERA

If you’re an Instagram obsessive like we are, you’re grateful for the advances in digital imaging on a daily basis. But they didn’t just “happen.” In 1975, American electrical engineer Steven Sasson began exploring ideas that eventually led to his invention of the digital camera, the patent for which was officially issued in 1978, paving the way for the imaging revolution. This portrait was taken shortly before President Obama awarded Sasson the National Medal of Technology.

The options the average person has today for imaging [are] unlimited. You walk around with you cell phone or digital camera today, and the pictures are excellent, they’re reliably produced, you can share them instantly. I like to say to inventors, ‘Be aware that your invention is in an environment when the rest of the world is inventing along with you, and so by the time the idea matures, it’ll be in a totally different world. I think that was the case with the digital camera.”

via Swiss Miss

TAMI GALT: FOLDING WAGON

Looking for an easy way to cary her groceries back from the farmers market that didn’t make her look like a wire-cart-dragging old lady, Tami Galt came up with teh Fold It & Go portable wagon, quitting her 9-to-5 job to work on the seemingly kooky creation.

One day, my boss was yelling at one of my coworkers and I’m like, ‘I gotta do something else, this isn’t working.’ So I just looked through my book of ideas, I looked at which one I liked the best, and said, ‘That’s what I’m working on!'”

JERRY FORD: WHEELCHAIR BRAKE SYSTEM

When crop farmer Jerry Ford‘s son was working at a nursing home and noted the need for a braking system that would prevent wheelchair accidents, Ford decided to invent one.

The cost of the falls is huge, and the technology is there to prevent them. Seat belts in cars actually prevent you from getting more seriously injured in an accident, where my automatic brake system prevents the accident from ever happening.”

TOM ROERING: AMPHIBIOUS VEHICLE

Ice fisherman Tom Roering‘s lightweight drivable amphibious vehicle for land, water and ice that doubles as an ice-fishing shelter and can also be adapted as an ice rescue vehicle.

Ice is never predictable, so each year there is loss of property as well as loss of life.”

BRENT FARLEY: MULTIPLE

Brent Farley‘s first patent was a “chair for aiding the [conjugal] relationships for the confirmed” — that is, a chair for having sex on. Farley went on to become one the most prolific of Friedman’s inventors, his creations ranging from the numbingly utilitarian (“self-hanging hammer” anyone?) to the gobsmackingly kooky (“wing walker,” we’re looking at you).

I look for the slightest problem that I can see, and ask myself, ‘Could there really be, maybe, a little bit better way to actually do that?”

Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter and people say it’s cool. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s an example. Like? Sign up.

08 APRIL, 2011

Five Manifestos for the Creative Life

By:

How a numbered list can start a personal revolution.

Some days everyone needs a little extra encouragement. The words or lines or colors don’t want to come, or worse, we don’t even want to sit down to create. That’s when we turn to these inspiring manifestos, any one of which is guaranteed to give our uncooperative creativity a sharp kick in the pants. Here are five of our favorite contemporary manifestos that nudge ideas out of your head and into the hands of the world.

RIGHT BRAIN TERRAIN

We’ve long been fans of the amazing work of Frederick Terral, the creative visionary behind design studio Right Brain Terrain. His “Alternative Motivational Posters” have in fact adorned our walls and desktop wallpapers for some time. But the love affair really began at the words behind his whole operation:

You may not be a Picasso or Mozart but you don’t have to be. Just create to create. Create to remind yourself you’re still alive. Make stuff to inspire others to make something too. Create to learn a bit more about yourself.”

We can’t imagine more sound advice. And charming, too: Terral’s manifesto appears online in its original form as scanned notebook pages, complete with sketches. Happily you can support all things Right Brain Terrain, and surround yourself with life-affirming statements, by purchasing limited edition prints from the studio’s gorgeous selection online.

THE CULT OF DONE MANIFESTO

Guidelines to get you from Point A to finished product, The Cult of Done Manifesto was written by tech guru Bre Pettis (of MakerBot fame) in collaboration with writer Kio Stark in 20 minutes, “because we only had 20 minutes to get it done.” Following that same parameter, their manifesto consists of 20 truisms borrowed from hacker culture. To wit, number four on the list:

Pretending you know what you’re doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you’re doing even if you don’t and do it.”

With iteration at the heart of its process, The Cult of Done Manifesto will banish your inner perfectionist (and its evil twin, procrastination).

HOLSTEE

We first featured the Holstee manifesto over a year ago, and our fondness for their sustainable social enterprise has only grown since then. Whether you’re raising a family or venture funds for your new business, rallying cries for creativity don’t get much stronger than this:

This is your life. Do what you love, and do it often. If you don’t like something, change it. If you don’t like your job, quit. If you don’t have enough time, stop watching TV. If you are looking for the love of your life, stop; they will be waiting for you when you start doing things you love.”

You can buy these bracing words in poster, card, and even bib form, so that every time your baby throws a cup of peas on the ground you’re reminded of the things that matter most in life.

WORK IS NOT A JOB

It’s no coincidence that three out of the five manifestos featured here come from design-y entrepreneurial ventures, since as a discipline design takes a “fail forward” approach to creativity. Our number-four favorite was written by Catharina Bruns, the German-born designer and illustrator behind Work Is Not A Job. Bruns’s raison d’être is effecting “a paradigm shift in how people approach ‘work’ not as your 9-5 job but how you individually contribute to the world.”

Empower yourself and realise the importance of contributing to the world by living your talent. Work on what you love. You are responsible for the talent that has been entrusted to you.”

In addition to design-for-hire, Work Is Not A Job also offers products, from hoodies to fine-art prints, to keep you inspired on the daily.

DO THE WORK

We’re over the moon that author Steven Pressfield has a new release out this month. Part of Seth Godin’s e-publishing experiment The Domino Project (which we featured earlier this year), Do the Work is intended as a companion guide to Pressfield’s earlier text – and one of our all-time favorites on the creative process – The War of Art. Where that book was almost Zen-like in tone, containing koans about art and life that have had us returning to it for years, Do the Work focuses on practical methods and tools. Still, Pressfield doesn’t pull any punches, getting right to the point about what’s at stake in whether or not we create.

There is an enemy. There is an intelligent, active, malign force working against us. Step one is to recognize this. This recognition alone is enormously powerful. It saved my life, and it will save yours.”

Even better, Do the Work is free(!) until April 20th, so do yourself an enormous favor and snag a copy now.

Whatever you do, we hope this list of manifestos helps you manifest your passion; and if you have other favorite creative directives leave us a link in the comments. Now go forth and create!

Kirstin Butler is writing an adaptation of Gogol for the Google era called Dead SULs, but when not doing the work spends far, far too much time on  Twitter. She currently lives in Cambridge, MA.

Donating = Loving

Bringing you (ad-free) Brain Pickings takes hundreds of hours each month. If you find any joy and stimulation here, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner:





You can also become a one-time patron with a single donation in any amount:





Brain Pickings has a free weekly newsletter. It comes out on Sundays and offers the week’s best articles. Here’s what to expect. Like? Sign up.