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How to be creative.
August 1, 2004 5:56 PM   Subscribe

How to be creative. Hugh "cartoons drawn on the back of business cards" Macleod gives some excellent advice on how to do those creative things you've always wanted to do. vis boingboing.net
posted by skallas (16 comments total)

 
Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten.

Yeah, but some of us had sharpeners in our crayon boxes. Hahahahaha.

... I don't know where this analogy is going.
posted by Stan Chin at 6:27 PM on August 1, 2004


Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with books on algebra etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the creative bug is just a wee voice telling you, "I’d like my crayons back, please."

As someone with a new degree in elementary teaching -- believe me, they take the crayons away well before puberty. Even kindergarteners are held to academic "standards" these days.
posted by argybarg at 6:49 PM on August 1, 2004


Superb link. Thanks!
posted by dobbs at 7:36 PM on August 1, 2004


awesome.
posted by Foosnark at 7:38 PM on August 1, 2004


Let me play devil's advocate a bit here.

I'll assume that by "creative" he means some kind of artistic endeavor. That's open to debate, but for the sake of the converastion, I'll accept that.

The thing is, not everybody's really capable of that. And also, just performing the grunt work that keeps the world functioning is a noble endeavor as well. I say that as someone who always harbored the idea of doing something creative, mainly because we're sort of sold the idea via popular culture that such a life is the only one worth living. But I've come to accept that I'm a clerk who sometimes likes to write, not a writer biding time as a clerk. And I'm cool with that.

This part, I agree with wholehearedly. The more of a show someone makes of being artistic, the less artistic they actually are.
posted by jonmc at 7:40 PM on August 1, 2004


This part annoys me, as it always does when it pops up in pieces like this:
they take the crayons away and replace them with books on algebra etc
There's an implication there that "algebra etc" (what's the etc?) is anti-creative, or at the least un-creative, and I think that implication is bullshit. Maybe "algebra etc" is being taught in a way that stifles creativity— but I seem to remember that can be just as true of music, writing, science, craftwork, etc., as taught in grade school. It's not a failing of algebra, it's a failing of a teacher, and to some extent of a student, not to see the joy, beauty, and creative potential that is in mathematics, just as it is in most fields of human inquiry.
posted by hattifattener at 8:35 PM on August 1, 2004


Yeah, that bothers me too. I don't like the assumption that "technical" things can't be creative or that the educational system produces soulless automatons.

Someone could say the same about teaching perspective, various artistic rules, etc. At a certain point everything is technical and soulless.
posted by skallas at 8:47 PM on August 1, 2004


Although I would agree with this quote - "This is a class war situation, and the artists are unfortunately not on the right side of the battle. If we would just honestly look at what function we’re serving in this economy, I’m afraid we would see that we’re basically shills for real estate developers."

But about this - "You’re slumped in front of a screen, in the same physical situation as a TV watcher, you’ve just added a typewriter. And you’re "interactive." What does that mean? It does not mean community. It’s catatonic schizophrenia. So blah blah blah, communicate communicate, data data data. It doesn’t mean anything more than catatonics babbling and drooling in a mental institution. Why can’t we stop? How is it that five years ago there were no cell phones, and now everyone needs a cell phone? You can pick up any book by any half-brained post-Marxist jerkoff and read about how capitalism creates false needs. Yet we allow it to go on."

INITIAL IMPRESSION - anger, bile

- I have reservations. This depiction seems so reactionary, and such a charicature. Does such sentiments ever improve things ? I do want this to picque my interest, but there seems here, to me, to be too much anger and too little of deeper thought. Bey may very well be capable of that, but I would need more convincing.

A 5 MINUTE LATER CONSIDERATION - hmmm

"It doesn’t mean anything more than catatonics babbling and drooling in a mental institution. Why can’t we stop?"

I do agree with aspects of this point, and the comment makes more sense, in way, as perhaps part of the Sufi tradition -or even Zen, as statements intended to short-circuit the rational mind.

I agree : we must stop. Our bodies and beings have evolved within previous contexts that we now no longer live in. But, that will change no rational minds. Angry words seldom do.
posted by troutfishing at 9:12 PM on August 1, 2004


Nice link, though I can only see it through Googles cache. Site seems to be down.
posted by cmacleod at 6:32 AM on August 2, 2004


It seems most of this advice could be applied to any ambition or occupation, not just those we popularly consider 'creative'. As given, it could equally be offered to an ambitious engineer, say. Depends on your definition of creative, I guess. Got to agree with hattifattener. Only those ignorant of technical or scientific disciplines will ever claim they're uncreative.
posted by normy at 7:53 AM on August 2, 2004


This part, I agree with wholehearedly. The more of a show someone makes of being artistic, the less artistic they actually are.

I'm not sure that's what that part is saying, jonmc. It's just a variation on the novelist's traditional complaint about always being asked what typewriter to use, or the cartoonist's about what pen to use. The tools don't matter, it's what you do with them.

That's quite different from making a show of being artistic. Some successful artists do make a show of being artistic; so do some wannabes. 'Making a show' isn't much of an indication of whether you're any good; it doesn't mean you are, and it doesn't mean you aren't. Luvvies can still be great actors, and over-the-top rock-and-rollers can still make great music.

Good link, skallas.
posted by rory at 8:00 AM on August 2, 2004


Both jonmc and rory are right in their own ways. The fact of the matter is, the more likely someone is to buy an expensive Eric Clapton guitar thinking then they'll sound like Eric Clapton, or a Jaco Pastorius bass (authentic boat epoxy!) thinking they'll sound like Jaco, the less likely it is that that person is really a good musician.
posted by dagnyscott at 10:15 AM on August 2, 2004


mainly because we're sort of sold the idea via popular culture that such a [creative] life is the only one worth living.

I wanna get hooked into your popular culture, jonmc; mine tells me that consumption is the only thing that makes life worth living.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:32 AM on August 2, 2004


I wanna get hooked into your popular culture, jonmc; mine tells me that consumption is the only thing that makes life worth living.

You could make a case for that as well, ZMT, but think about it: when was the the last time you saw an A&E Biography on an office clerk or VH1's Behind The Fixtures on a plumber?
posted by jonmc at 12:08 PM on August 2, 2004


You're both right. These days a Creative Life is something you can consume. There are even helpful Internet sites written by successfully Creative People that will give you helpful advice on how to have Your Very Own Creative Life!
posted by fuzz at 1:26 PM on August 2, 2004


Most of what's on that page sounds like stuff my parents told me but I was too stubborn to listen to at the time.

Few things worth having come easy. You need to put the time in. Be your own person. Life is what you make it. People often aren't all they present themselves as. The world isn't just waiting for you to show up.

Go find Douglas Hofstader's writings on creativity to get some worthwhile insight.
posted by Ayn Marx at 7:19 PM on August 2, 2004


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