In a set of conversations these last two weeks in Penang, DK has learned something cool. We found that there are many here who want to talk, in some depth, about the creative process itself. This is exciting.
I am reminded of MAKE, a conversation salon we had held in the US, where I had invited eight guest panelists to convene and make a short comment to kick off what then became a meandering, unforgettable session. Some friends still quote from it, when we talk together about our newest or latest, because we are also aware that we are constantly developing a voice, and can’t see it in full until we play a bit, well, let’s be honest, a lot, and see what patterns emerge. What does our output creatively tell us about ourselves? Our conversations will shake out some of that, guaranteed.
Serious makers and creatives truly enjoy occasions to share on this informal, real time, and in real life way with others also struggling with questions of purpose, form, technique and gumption to keep making, when we aren’t sure where we are even going, when we do.
An Asian upbringing, for me, puts me in the same category that many I have met in Malaysia are, too: we ask ourselves (at the start, anyway) questions like: what about practicality, of following the Programme not only society seems to be setting, but your Parents are, too. No one wants to be a disappointment. But can you make really good work if that concern for what others expect or think of you will box you in, will limit you? I struggled with this question myself for a decade, then made a choice that I never looked back on or regretted. I will share that story at this event.
Here’s what will happen. Drawing from a past career in architecture, design, branding, and journalism, DK will bring forward a series of conversation-starting questions that might help some of those who are curious about Creative Process find ways to add troops to their own repertoire of how to make.
RSVP for location details, and to confirm your attendance. To RSVP, contact us through the form at this page.
IF YOU CAN IGNORE the overt product placement by their sponsor, this promo video by A Day Magazine for their Make a Zine fair in Bangkok is simply *charming*. For a while now we have been looking up videos trying to gathering inspiration to share ahead of Atelier S P A C E in Singapore this coming week.
So very many of them are a little bit underdeveloped, but that’s partly because of the culture of ‘DIY,’ in general. Leave things a bit tattered, not too done up. I get that. We get that. It’s part of our own style, too. Don’t make it too perfect, because you’ll kill the raw energy of it!
But the prevailing norm, which is a culture that rewards narcissism, that promotes ‘othering’ and ultimately yields miniature photocopied books aplenty that say, ‘this is me look at me this is what I think, dammit, f* you if you don’t like it,’ well. We all know why this is a problem, yes?
Let’s try something new.
This is how we thought it up. Why we are coming to Singapore for Atelier S P A C E.
THEY DON’T HAVE to go around posting things on Medium. They just know.
THERE IS SOME WEIRD CHRISTMAS JAZZ going on lately in my internet radio streams. This is irritating.
I’m into internet radio; a long time ago it used to be TODAY FM from out of Ireland, because, well, I like that station. Nowadays it’s jazz stuff from Denmark, since I was just there sussing things out. Tokyo in the 1990s. Other places, in the middle, for similar musical investigations, though I couldn’t have called them such, it was just hanging out back then, but most clearly the one I recall for its energy was Small’s. In New York. Cycling ‘cross the Brooklyn Bridge late late late after a show there or elsewhere, maybe not a show, maybe it was the nightclub scene. (Limelight. Yeah. Yeah.)
We never really change
ANYWAY, way back then and suddenly very recently once more, I’m on a new search. Open ears, conscious of the importance of sensing as you go, and going, and looking, listening and learning. (The work at DK in the last few years has been all about making space for people to also get lost in the uncertainty, which is of course rather esoteric but many people like to talk about Heidegger and the Nothing and I think that they are the kinds of folks who, perhaps, might be inclined to want to hear a little more. So it goes, that you find your 0.02% of the world population, if you’re lucky, that ‘get’ you and you ‘get’ them. More about that in a second, when you hit the moment of intrigue.)
Listening and learning
PEOPLE I CONNECT WITH and I share this: we’ve been looking for some new inputs.
To come back to the world of music, I’m going to many places, and lots of clubs small and smaller to see what I can hear. Many times it’s a whiff, that’s just how it is, but every so often you discover something really incredible or run into true intrigue. It happens when it happens and there’s nothing you can really say or do to create the moments of, ‘Hey, wow. This is cool.’ I used to call it ‘the a-ha,’ because that’s what designers like to talk about.
‘Yeah! That! Thatthatthatthatthat!’
It’s like this could be their whole conversation.
Boxes and edges
YOU GET INTO a box, which is in and of itself a huge amount of fussing and overcoming of inertia of the variety that you can ask me to pontificate about, if you meet me in some whiskey bar sometime. (Or if you read S. P. A. C. E.)
You see the edges a little but then you get to working out more of the details of the dimensions and the textures and you see the limitations. Yet we all have to have frameworks to make sense of things, or to let go of the pressing urgency to ‘make sense of things,’ altogether.
Play space, in the box, leads to opening of dimensions that are sentient and close, and these are the ones that make us human. Yes, human. It used to be unfashionable to talk about our humanness, but now, with the obvious limitations on what turning ourselves into machines (workworkwork) can do to our health or distract us from looking closely within to hear our own hearts, the songs there!, and discover a purpose, well. We all know how that story is going.
REAL ARTISTS are doing stuff. They don’t have to go around posting things on Medium. They just know. And so, with the heart open and the eyes wide, I looked in the corners and upon the stages to find the songs that felt right, that made me feel good. It’s a collection. And it’s gonna be called, uh…. what should it be called? Oh, right. It’s the Book of Songs. ‘Cause it’s here at the edges where things mix and come into color that the magic of the moment comes alive. Isn’t art about connection? Conversation? Discovery and making it up as we go, tripping and learning and then, a-ha!? I am writing. I am going to write the best bits into the Book of Songs. —AS
LAST WEEK I WAS HAVING LUNCH IN A LUSH, hilly valley. Next table was this older couple, from the Netherlands, who had four daughters and five grandchildren. They were on holiday, walking in the air, getting inspired by landscapes, like me. We struck up conversation.
“Daughters are special,” I said.
“Yes, but if I had had four sons,” the woman said, “I’d think sons are special, too.”
This hung in the air, and with its shadow a lifetime of her wonderings about sons and not daughters, the number four suddenly clearer in the weight of that sharing.
Like a sailor at his tiller, skillfully changing the subject, the man asked, politely, “What do you do in Cambodia?”
Been wondering that myself. “I’m writing.”
“You’re a writer?” Impressed.
The woman [unimpressed]: “Have you published anything?”
How to tell them it’s not about the publishing, but about the quality of the concept that’s what’s important? Too much to get into. So I don’t.
She spoke again. “How do you get to be a writer, then?”
“Well,” I said, being totally honest. “You have to be good.”
“And you have to be serious.” The way I said it, and the way they received this response, made you think if you were listening in that it was me who was 20 years older.
In all seriousness
BUT I AM COMPLETELY BEING HONEST HERE. It’s all about being serious. And this other thing. The mountain.
The mountain! Yes.
That’s all there is. You do the things that move you towards the mountain, and you drop anything that doesn’t. This is what I learned from this video, a commencement speech from 2012 by Neil Gaiman. Click this image to get to it. (Hat tip: SKF.)
This speech is about goals. But more than that, it’s about integrity.
As you get better and build more quality relationships with the people who are able to commission you, you are able to be more choosy, of course, in what you take on and reject what doesn’t propel you towards your goal.
I think clarity of concept is hugely important, for that exact reason. You can’t move towards five thousand and forty two mountains all at the same time. You have to pick ONE.
So, that leaves me to ask: Where is your mountain? What does it look like? Is what you’re doing today getting you closer to it?
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