thought and opinion
The cultivation of aptitude, far more than coincidence or inspiration, is responsible for most creative breakthroughs.
If you see that some aspect of your society is bad, and you want to improve it, there is only one way to do so: you have to improve people. And in order to improve people, you begin with only one thing: you can become better yourself.
Nowadays, we lavish praise on our children. Praise, self-confidence and academic performance, it is commonly believed, rise and fall together. But current research suggests otherwise — over the past decade, a number of studies on self-esteem have come to the conclusion that praising a child as ‘clever’ may not help her at school. In fact, it might cause her to under-perform. Often a child will react to praise by quitting — why make a new drawing if you have already made ‘the best’? Or a child may simply repeat the same work — why draw something new, or in a new way, if the old way always gets applause?
The system is slowly destroying itself. I’ll give you an example of how this might work out. Let’s suppose you say in the future, journalists will figure out how to attach themselves to advertising more directly so they’re not left out of the loop. Right now, a lot of journalism is aggregated in various services that create aggregate feeds of one kind or another and those things sell advertising for the final-stop aggregator. And the people doing the real work only get a pittance. A few journalists do well but it’s very few — it’s a winner-take-all world where only a minority does well. Yes, there are a few people, for instance, who have blogs with their own ads and that can bring in some money. You can say, “Well, isn’t that a good model and shouldn’t that be emulated”? The problem is that they’re dependent on the health of the ad servers that place ads. Very few people can handle that directly. And the problem with that is the whole business of using advertising to fund communication on the Internet is inherently self-destructive, because the only stuff that can be advertised on Google or Facebook is stuff that Google hasn’t already forced to be free.
The trick to creativity, if there is a single useful thing to say about it, is to identify your own peculiar talent and then to settle down to work with it for a good long time.
I do it for me and like-minded people. That’s it. That’s it. My career, I look at it in a Darwinian framework. I’m going to do exactly what I want, and I’m going to survive or I’m not. I’m not going to pander, I’m not going to change things, I’m not going to do focus groups. I’ll live and die by the sword. I don’t care. Because I couldn’t live with myself.
I begin my work at about nine or ten o’clock in the evening, and continue until four or five in the morning. Night is a more quiet time to work. It aids thought.
What’s the impulse behind art? It’s saying in whatever language is the language of your work, “If I could move you as much as it moved me … if I can move anyone a tenth as much as that moved me, if I can spark the same sense of mystery and awe and surprise as that sparked in me, well that’s why I do what I do.
The strategy is to have a practice, and what it means to have a practice is to regularly and reliably do the work in a habitual way.
The notion that I do my work here, now, like this, even when I do not feel like it, and especially when I do not feel like it, is very important. Because lots and lots of people are creative when they feel like it, but you are only going to become a professional if you do it when you don’t feel like it. And that emotional waiver is why this is your work and not your hobby.
The time we have alone, the time we have in walking, the time we have in riding a bicycle — [these] are the most important times for a writer. Escaping from a typewriter is part of the creative process. You have to give your subconscious time to think. Real thinking always occurs on the subconscious level. I never consciously set out to write a certain story. The idea must originate somewhere deep within me and push itself out in its own time. Usually, it begins with associations.
The whole design looks like it was the result of a pile of indecisive internal meetings where an enormous committee ran rampant, suggesting interventions that would make the logo look active.