Interview with Ze Frank on creativity
May 22, 2007 1:50 PM   Subscribe

Interview with Ze Frank on creativity Ze Frank discusses some techniques he learned himself to harness his creativity. Apart from his quite creative daily online video, which is now defunct, he's apparently also an adjunct professor at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, Parsons School of Design, and SUNY Purchase.
posted by jouke (19 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I didn't know there was so much opportunity for creativity in the automotive business. Live and learn.
posted by davejay at 1:57 PM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

Ask yourself, WWZFD?
posted by MapGuy at 2:04 PM on May 22, 2007

There's a weird fetish online for productivity/creativity hints and tips. It's hard to get away from such links on sites like Reddit. It's kinda postmodern, as if people believe that the technique is more important than the actual product, or output.
posted by humblepigeon at 2:14 PM on May 22, 2007 [4 favorites]

humblepigeon: you should hang out on some music gear / tech sites sometime.
posted by neustile at 2:55 PM on May 22, 2007


as neustile alludes to, it's not just in the productivity/creativity space. Everyone is looking for the magic formula, their lottery ticket to unlocking their inner awesomeness.

No matter how many time you say "1 part inspiration, 9 parts perspiration" no one listens.
posted by C.Batt at 3:12 PM on May 22, 2007 [3 favorites]

Anyone else read the author's name as "cortex" in the dialogue?
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 3:15 PM on May 22, 2007

humblepigeon: "process over product" has been big, in artistic circles, for years and years and years now.

It is pretty ridiculous. I don't think Ze is saying that the process is more important than anything -- it's just that we can't focus on all the actual content people are producing because really, most of it's crap, but isn't it wonderful that everyone is producing things?

Though I think that only becomes true when people actually consider what they're producing. Making youtube videos of yourself talking into a camera doesn't really help your thought process of filmmaking unless you're actually taking the time to think about how you're framed in the shot and all that. Though perhaps more people think about that than I realize.

It does, at least, start you down a path where you can realize these things. It's like the way I approach books now compared to the way I approached books when I was in junior high–what do you mean "symbolization"? Give me lasers and spaceships and dragons and swords! Or even drama in general. Once you get to the point where you've either produced or examined the production details of a lot of art (of one form or another) you're a lot more able to realize the difference between characters and drama, and humans and reality.

"A Life Aquatic", for example, would have made me want to go outside and ride my bike when I was little, but at the time I watched it, I appreciated how it was put together, the absurdity, the characters, the music, the utter ridiculousness, the mix-and-match references and self-references and reality-references. You may hate the film, though, maybe it's a bad example.

Bottom line, people creating stuff is good. When you film something on a digital camera and it looks like the news, you start realizing that the news is a creative production just like your youtube video. When you write a blog you start realizing that the choices you make as to content and presentation are, in fact, writing, and it colours your view of other writing.

It's good stuff! And Ze is a smart man. I should go take his course.
posted by blacklite at 3:17 PM on May 22, 2007

Ze is always so damn proud of himself in these interviews. "Oh, I've read books by people you've NEVER even heard of." All this pride just because he produced a show that, by the end, largely consisted of him sitting there saying things like "I was at the airport and I saw an escalator. Why don't you all send me pictures of yourselves on escalators!?" And then the escalator pics come in and are set to some kind of silly-sounding tune while he sings nonsense.
posted by reklaw at 4:43 PM on May 22, 2007

yeah, it really sucks the way ze frank grew a community around himself, connected them in a social network site (the ORG) and inspired them to participate in mass weirdness. what a jerk!
posted by xian at 4:47 PM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]

It was interesting to begin with, but it got formulaic quickly. That's all. That, and I become less inclined to be sympathetic towards the show with every self-congratulatory interview I see.
posted by reklaw at 5:43 PM on May 22, 2007

Anyone else read the author's name as "cortex" in the dialogue?

Man, I wish. That dude gets more done in a month than I do in a year; and that interview was a pretty inspiring read, both in terms of what he's managed to build as an internal toolset and the way that so much of it is straight-forward, achievable just-get-to-work discipline.
posted by cortex at 5:48 PM on May 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


He's said in a number of interviews that one of his favorite things about it was getting people involved in trivial ways that make everybody happy (like dressing up vacuum cleaners, or making earth sandwiches). It was pretty awesome.
posted by blasdelf at 6:56 PM on May 22, 2007

Heh, thanks for the vitriol guys. I've bottled it and sold it to Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

I remember reading this book part on Brian Eno and being fascinated by his stance towards creativity. Of course a.o. he created for himself the oblique strategies process.
posted by jouke at 8:10 PM on May 22, 2007

What does "of course a.o." mean?
posted by jjg at 9:48 PM on May 22, 2007

a.o. was meant as: among other things. Dutchism, sorry.
posted by jouke at 10:28 PM on May 22, 2007

Take that back! My earth sandwich was *not* trivial! (Okay, so maybe my half was pretty easy.)
posted by The Monkey at 1:41 AM on May 23, 2007

Ze is my hewo.
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:26 AM on May 23, 2007

Making the sandwich is easy, eathing it o.t.o.h.....
posted by jouke at 2:26 AM on May 23, 2007

Ze doesn't need to give out advice. He does what tons of people have done before him: make tons of stuff and see what sticks with an audience. Then keep doing that.

Of course, that counts on some of your work ending up being good, which no amount of creativity will necessarily help you with.
posted by Captaintripps at 5:33 AM on May 23, 2007

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