Brain Pickings Icon
Brain Pickings

Search results for “creativity”

Transform: The Journey to Creative Contentment

Why the only thing that matters is that it shouldn’t matter.

As creators, we all have moments of doubt. Sometimes momentary, sometimes situational, sometimes existential. But the “trick” about creative self-doubt seems to be in doing away with the pressures of measuring up, the perceived comparative value of our work, the destructive cravings for critical acclaim, and focusing on the creative truth of each moment, that “in-the-zoneness” that makes us truly happy.

transform1Which is why we love Zack Arias’ short film Transform — an exploration of a photographer’s journey to creative contentment, past the trials and tribulations of doubt and the tortured obsessions over the work’s merit. And although Zack himself is a photographer, we think the grander message of the film will strike a chord with any creator.

So watch Transform, and don’t let the intentional satire of the first 93 seconds mislead you — it’s after this that the film’s true richness really begins.

Transform seems to echo the wisdom of our favorite TED talk — Elizabeth Gilbert on creative genius — and the idea that these pressures, be they external or internal, to measure up, to outdo, to be celebrated kill the very spring of creativity.

So with this sentiment, have an inspired weekend. And if you don’t, that’s okay.


Similarities: Because It’s All Been Done

What Einstein has to do with copyright, where indie bands get their concert posters, and why there’s no such thing as creativity.

“Everything’s been done.”

Or so goes the adage drilled into every budding art director from the start. Now, we have proof, thanks to Similarities — a Flickr set that pits pairs of similar images against each other, exposing their striking aesthetic and conceptual similarity.

Substantiating Einstein’s bold contention that “the secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources,” Similarities takes pairs of cultural artifacts, often separated by decades, and exposes anything from well-meaning homages to blatant rip-offs to the unfortunate overlaps of equally twisted minds.

The thing to keep in mind, though, is that Similarities isn’t out to point the finger at the potential (and often clear) theft of ideas — rather, it’s there to shed light on the creative process, to illustrate something we very much believe here at Brain Pickings: That creativity is simply the sum total of your mental resources, the catalog of ideas you’ve accumulated over the years by being alive and alert and attentive to the outside world.

So when you explore Similarities, challenge yourself to question the subconscious influences and stealthy inspiration that creep into your own creative output. What you find may surprise you.


Show & Tell: A Century of Illustrated Letters

120 years of handwriting so bad it necessitates visual aid, or why hipsters didn’t invent irreverence.

Remember pen and paper? And how they came together to produce… gasp… letters? The Smithsonian certainly does – in fact, they remember and celebrate those most memorable of letters that go beyond mere words.

Enter the Smithsonian’s archive of Illustrated Letters — a wonderful collection of tortured love letters, violently opinionated reports of current events, gloriously rich thank-you notes, a handful of far-fetched excuses, and various other forms of visually written self-expression from the early 19th century to the late 1980’s.

Although the collection is a shots-in-the-dark nightmare to navigate, with some patience and a bit of luck you may just uncover some real gems.

David Carlson to Mrs. Jackson

And perhaps a few delightful oddballs.

Philip Guston to James Brooks

Then, of course, there’s the exercise of decoding the world’s most impossible handwriting. Which, actually, is why we half-seriously suspect a number of those folks resorted to illustrations.

<br /> Warren Chappell to Isabel Bishop

The Illustrated Letters collection is pulled entirely from The Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art, hand-picked by Curator of Manuscripts Liza Kirwin. It’s truly a cultural treasure, but perhaps it is most valuable as a reminder to us know-it-all millennials that we didn’t in fact invent visual creativity, or irreverent wit, or sarcasm, or dark humor, or any of those “quintessentially hipster” qualities that ooze from the letters and set we so boldly like to credit ourselves with.

Plus, it reminds us of Dan Price‘s wonderful Moonlight Chronicles.

via Coudal


Duper Bowl: Alternative Super Bowl Logos

What if’s, football for nerds, and how the artsy types do organized sports.

There’s no question the Super Bowl is quite the garish spectacle. The tipping point of a year’s worth of football adrenaline, the obscene amounts of food, the $3-million-for-30-seconds commercials. And like any garish affair, the Super Bowl always has a garish logo to match.

Original Super Bowl XLIII LogoBut this year, The New York Times decided to explore the what-if’s of Super Bowl logo design by inviting some of the country’s most prominent designers to reimagine the logo. The resulting collection of Alternative Super Bowl Logos spans the entire spectrum of conceptual and creative vision — the modern, the retro, the grunge, the minimalistic, the serious, the tongue-in-cheek, and everything in between.

There’s the political parody…

Modern Dog Design Co., Seattle

…and the retro-minimalist iconography, our favorite.


Then we have the delightful play of color…

…and the blatant side-taking.

The rebellious grunge…

…and the hilarious nerd-centric audience expansion scheme.

The refreshing back-to-basicness of the football illiterati…

…and, of course, the inevitable tribute to the American Way of marking any occasion as worthy.

And if you, like us, didn’t quite realize what a big deal the Super Bowl logo was, go ahead and realize — The New York Times has proof.

via Creativity Online


View Full Site

Brain Pickings participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn commissions by linking to Amazon. In more human terms, this means that whenever you buy a book on Amazon from a link on here, I receive a small percentage of its price. Privacy policy.