Saturday, 28 March 2009

Worrying, Thinking and Creative Thinking

Recently I have read some fantastically creative cartoons. The beauty of the cartoon is that it is usually a complicated idea, emotion or feeling that is perfectly condensed into a few words and sometimes even just one image.
As we were travelling down to Hampshire last weekend something about the conversation in the car prompted my (eleven year old) son to pipe up, “Wus Geets Daddy?” He managed to refer to a favourite Rupert Fawcett cartoon by condensing it into just three words.See the full cartoon
It’s From Rupert Fawcett’s Book, Daddy.

Interestingly Rupert Fawcett only got into cartoons when he was in a period of being between jobs. He pulled on a hobby and now his cartoons are on greetings cards worldwide. … Maybe making sure you have time for a creative hobby is a good idea? But what if creativity is your main job too?
I stumbled upon Hugh Macleod’s How to be Creative manifesto a couple of weeks ago. It was written back in 2004 and at that time he was very definitely saying, “Keep the day job” (in his case advertising) and keep your real passion as a hobby. For him this was cartoons on the back of business cards.
A recent visit to GapingVoid suggests that Hugh has now managed to make cartoons a much bigger part of his life.

My reason for writing this post is that I feel that recently I have been doing too much worrying. “Wus worrying Daddy?” Well, worrying is just thinking isn’t it? Asking questions, maybe asking yourself pointless questions or questions with answers that aren’t very helpful. Mmmm, but thinking is good isn't it? That’s how we are creative. Thinking, opening your mind up to possibilities, asking good productive questions such as, “How could I say this? What material would be best? Is that too obvious a form or material for this sculpture? As I’ve been working on a new “being” Roger (who has now been renamed Stan) I have done lots of thinking BUT too many of these thoughts/questions have been UNCREATIVE.

This is from Hugh’s Manifesto How to be Creative. You can download this for free from

There are only 24hours in a day and how many of them can I afford to spend worrying about what other artists are doing? How I can fit better quality community and educational arts activities into my life? Those are those very important income earning activities. I have been especially asking questions about what I am prepared to do and what I am not prepared to do. Knowing this and being clear on this would undoubtedly free up a SIGNIFICANT amount of thinking time!

Ignore Everybody is Hugh’s most read blog post. There are 37 points on it. I have picked out these ten which are currently the most pertinent to me.

1. Ignore everybody.

2. The idea doesn't have to be big. It just has to be yours.

5. You are responsible for your own experience.

9. Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.

11. Don't try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether.

12. If you accept the pain, it cannot hurt you.

13. Never compare your inside with somebody else's outside.

15. The most important thing a creative person can learn professionally is where to draw the red line that separates what you are willing to do, and what you are not.

19. Sing in your own voice.

27. The best way to get approval is not to need it.

30. The hardest part of being creative is getting used to it.

Finally, a favourite quote from
Paul Arden’s book Whatever you think Think the opposite.

"Advances in any field are built upon people with the small or personal point of view." Paul Arden

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Art & Soul and Motown too.

After a long dark winter I’m back in the studio making new work (beings) for my next solo show. This will be at Westbourne Grove Church ArtSpace 3rd September - 13th October 2009. The space is fantastic and I am really excited. For this show my beings will take to the air. To date legs have been important and seeing things from the point of view of a child crawling under furniture has been inspirational. Although, seen by some as flyaway fantasy creatures, they have until now very definitely had their feet firmly on the ground. So to really take flight; do they need legs? How will this affect how people engage and interact with them?
For someone who finds relaxing difficult and who had to make my own entertainment during a very isolated and rural childhood I did manage to watch a LOT of television. I have strong memories of costumes from musical films featuring Ginger Rogers & Fred Astaire, Doris Day and Barbra Streisand.

I loved the exotica of the feathers, frills and even the swimming caps as worn in one strangely surreal (and lengthy) synchronised swimming routine that I remember from one such film.
The names of these films are mostly forgotten but memories and visual snapshots are still bubbling to the surface of my memory. Like most teenagers I went through my Science Fiction phase and not only did I become an avid reader of Sci-Fi (convincing myself that I had ESP powers and that my grandad had been reincarnated into our cat) I also managed to watch a fair few films with clunky home made props and “dodgy “looking spaceships. They may have been in colour but my memories of them are in black and white with a “voiceover” from my dad, “See you can see its all trick photography” and “Look, you can see the strings!”
So, I am drawing from memories of sputniks and spaceships of the 1950’s and 60’s I am currently making a new being called Roger.

No photos from the studio yet but it’s no surprise that my recent visit to Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery to see the touring V& A exhibition, The Story of The Supremes has refreshed by taste-buds for a bit of chiffon. No feathers or beads on Roger but there will be some Twinkle chiffon fabric which I am going to make into nuno felt. This produces a fantastic tactile surface with organic suggestions.
This image from TrashBagAesthetics
So, Ski-Fi to showbiz, vintage cast aluminium to twinkle this is an interesting juxtaposition of influences and materials!
A big, “Thank You”, to Mary Wilson for keeping this fantastic collection together over the years and for now sharing them with us. As commented in this Birmingham Mail story many people first saw these costumes on black & White televisions and so now seeing them in the flesh is a wonderful explosion of colour and tactile textile surfaces.
The exhibition is well worth a visit not only showing the costumes but also charting th erise of Mowtown and the story of the American Civil Rights Movement.

The Story of The Supremes from the Mary Wilson Collection - Get more College Essays