Summers are for vacations and vacations are for reading. Who doesn’t have a stack of books waiting for the time to read them? Because I love reading, I thought I would share the books that I’ve read that have shaped my photography. If you’ve been following the blog for any length of time, several of these books will already be familiar to you. Even though I’ve talked about them before, I thought it would be nice to put them all in one place.
In fact, many of my past blog posts have been inspired by these books. I often cruise bookstores looking for interesting titles. Beside bookstores I also ask my fellow photographers to recommend their favorite books. By doing this, I make sure I break out of my comfort zone. These books inspire me creatively, encourage me to think about photography as well as reinforce basic concepts of both art and photography. Continue reading Summer reading to inspire your photography
A creative crisis can hit anyone at anytime. I know, I’ve had many a creative crisis throughout the years, and I always seem to get through them, somehow.
If you don’t know what I mean, check out this handy illustration found in Steal Like an Artist. Continue reading A creative crisis can hit anyone
I picked up Steal Like an Artist: 10 things nobody told you about creativity looking for inspiration for todays post and I realized it’s been awhile since we have checked in with this little treasure. Chapter 2, “Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started”, is one of my favorites. Continue reading Steal Like an Artist Revisited
While everyone is getting their books together for the epic 2014 Photo Exchange I thought I would remind you of this post from earlier this year “Two Steps Back…”
No matter what your project is, no matter how big or small it is, you will move along a very familiar path. From your very first eureka moment, to the emergence of those first doubts nibbling away at your confidence, to the very depths of despair when you don’t think it will ever get done… we have all been there.
I am currently somewhere between “It will be good to finish because I’ll learn something for the next time” and “Its done and it sucks, but not as bad as I thought.” Personally I am grateful for even this.
As you work on your “best of” book or your next big artistic project, know that the life of a project is a nasty little roller coaster ride that every artist chooses to take. You are not alone, we have all been there.
And no matter how bad that roller coaster ride is, its better than the alternative…doing nothing.
Have you experienced this emotional artistic roller coaster before?
How do you handle those inevitable artistic self doubts?
Have you read Steal Like an Artist?
“Magic realism or magical realism is a genre where magical or unreal elements play a natural part in an otherwise realistic (often mundane) environment. Although it is most commonly used as a literary genre, magic realism also applies to film and the visual arts.” ~ Wikipedia
Magical realism is my favorite genre of literature. Think One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami or Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie. All books I have read and loved.
I recently started reading the latest Murakami novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, and it felt like putting on a my favorite coat. It was a happy comfortable feeling; almost like coming home and naturally it got me thinking.
I understand why in “Steal Like an Artist” the author talks about the importance of side projects. Not only can they give creative inspiration to your work, but they can help you understand what you are doing and why. Connect the dots, so to speak. I am attracted to magical realism across multiple disciplines and it makes sense that I would want to recreate that feeling in my own work. I find it comforting that my artistic insanity is consistent.
In my opinion the Lego mini figure is well suited to this goal of magical realism. For many of us it has an instant connection to childhood memories as well as a place in our present lives. To have a toy that is so imbued with instant emotions, then free it from those boundaries and place it in unexpected location is a powerful tool. I want to help my viewer (and myself) to reclaim that sense of wonder and innocence that we associate with childhood. By placing the mini figure in unusual situations, I hope it will gain an aspect of magical realism that only comes from having a foot in two different worlds at the same time, the past and the present.
It is important to me that my Lego friends inhabit my world, not a world down a rabbit hole or a world created by someone else. I want them to be of my world, just a better, more magical version of my world.
What is your favorite book in this genre?
One of the best parts about paticipating in this blog for me is the back and forth between Me2 and mysef. I realize it’s not always an easy conversation to follow and we often go off on tangents, but I enjoy the process. It’s been a couple of days since his Pluto post that posed more questions than answers, but I wanted to put in my two cents.
It is hard to put yourself forward as an artist. It can be an emotional and ego busting experience. You are displaying something that is often intensly personal and you don’t know how it will be perceived. Will it be appreciated, criticized or ignored?
But that is not the only risk in our newly minted uber connected world. Information flows quickly on the internet, copyright has very little meaning and appropriation is the order of the day. As an artist it can be disheartening to see your work end up in the wrong place with no attribution. Another all too real risk is the overly enthusiastic fan or even worse the outright thief.
What do you do if you are the Jedi with a Padawan walking too closely in your footsteps? I was reading through “Steal Like an Artist” (again) and came across a great quote that in my mind deals with this beautifully:
“Complain about the way other people make software by making software.” ~ Andre Torrez
In short…get busy. The truly creative artists who have the perseverance to stay in the game for the long haul will always be one step ahead of the Padawans. There is really no reason to dwell on what can’t be changed, the Padawans will always be there. But how you move forward with your own work will separate you as the true Jedi.
My apologies for any errors in this post. I wrote it in the car on my ipad as I am hurtling acrtoss the barrren landscape that is know as Southern Idaho.
This week has been filed with lost opportunities, missed connections and course corrections…or as I like to say, business as usual.
All of this made me think back to the book Steal Like and Artist and one of its more accurate diagrams.
I have had countless ideas that I have thought: “Eureka, this is going to be awesome!” And then as I start to face the difficulties of bringing my fantasies into the realm of concrete, ugly reality will hit. Yup, making art is never a pretty or an easy road.
This diagram is also a good representation for life, never quite as great as you imagined it could be, but not quite as bad as you feared.
So when you face your next creative crisis know we have all been there and it’s ok, this too shall pass.
I love chapter eight of Steal Like An Artist! The title is: “Be Nice. (The world is a small town.)” If you’ve hung out in the world wide toy community of Instagram for any length of time, you know how very true this statement is.
It is easy to be influenced by all the great toy photography being posted on Instagram, Flickr, G+, Facebook and misc blogs. I myself have borrowed an idea or two over the past few months; no one is above being influenced by their peers.
So lets review how to steal like an artist. (This handy little chart, from the book by the same name, is a great guide.) When you “steal” it is about incorporating, not recreating verbatum. If you take a great idea and put it through your own internal filters, it is bound to come out completely different. If you transform and remix your inspiration, especially if your inspiration comes from several sources, you will no doubt end up in a completely different place from where you thought you were going. In my experience it will be a better, truer place, which really is the whole point. Right?
Remember, it’s a small world and social media sites like Flickr and Instagram have shrunk it just a little bit further. So follow this guide and your work will flourish and no one will be accusing you of being that guy or gal.
As I wait for me2 to recover from his latest secret mission I have been struggling to find interesting topics to write about. This blogging business is not easy.
As I have been casting about looking for topics, a particular book title kept popping into my head: Steal Like an Artist. This little book made its way into our house a couple of years ago and even though it has an awesome title I never read it. In my desperation for a blogging topic I tracked it down and cracked it open. Eureka!
With chapter topics like: “Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started” and “Side projects and hobbies are important” this book was speaking my language.
The first chapter alone is worth the price of admission. Somehow the author makes over used nuggets like “Nothing is Original” and “Garbage in Garbage Out” seems fresh and original. My favorite quote he chose to illustrate this chapter was by Jim Jarmusch.
“Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be a authentic.”
In the world of toy photography where everything is emulated and much is passed around without attribution, it’s important to note that by using the world “steal” the author is encouraging you to be inspired by everything you see, but don’t plagiarize.
Unless me2 suddenly shows up, I’ll talk about some of my other favorite chapters later this week. Stay tuned!
Homage to Robert Mapplethorpe