Tag artist

“I like it when someone gets an opportunity & makes the most of it. Could be the smallest of openings but they squeeze in there & pry that shit open” – Our Interview With RAE, Artist …*

"I like it when someone gets an opportunity & makes the most of it. Could be the smallest of openings but they squeeze in there & pry that shit open" - Our Interview With RAE, Artist ...*| rethinked.org

Art & Photograph by RAE

 

Chances are you’ve likely come across prolific Brooklyn based artist RAE‘s work before. If you’ve spent any time in NYC, it is almost a certainty that you’ve seen some of his stickers, installations or murals. RAE’s art is vibrant, colorful, dynamic and enigmatic and never fails to make me stop and smile when I chance upon it. I have often wondered about the person behind the art and reached out to RAE to ask him my nine questions about his heart, his fears and his notion of the good life. I am delighted that he agreed to participate in our interview series. His responses, as you’ll see below, are full of the same poetic whimsy, depth and energy as his artwork. You can connect with RAE on Twitter @RAE_BK or follow him on Instagram @rae_bk.

WHAT WAS THE LAST EXPERIMENT YOU RAN?

I have a cat that speaks to me. She told me she doesn’t want to lead such a nocturnal, lazy and mundane existence. So I made a hole in the bottom of my fence so she can go out and explore the neighborhood. I may take her to see Europe one of these days. In the beginning she was just going out for short trips but now she’s gone for days. I am about to outfit her with a small camera to see where she winds up and what she does in a day. I’ll let you know how that turns out.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS THAT YOU FEAR AND HOW DO YOU MANAGE YOUR FEAR?

I fear that more and more people will make decisions on social and/or political issues based on what their group or party affiliation supports rather than look at issues on a case by case basis.

"I like it when someone gets an opportunity & makes the most of it. Could be the smallest of openings but they squeeze in there & pry that shit open" - Our Interview With RAE, Artist ...*| rethinked.org

Talk Talk Mural & Photograph by RAE

WHAT BREAKS AND DELIGHTS YOUR HEART? IN OTHER WORDS, WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IN AND SURRENDER TO?

I was in Ethiopia in 2014 and noticed there was pretty much no public spaces for kids to play. In Addis, the capital city, I finally spotted a playground but only one kid was inside playing while others watched from behind a small fence. The fence was one they could have easily climbed over and joined in but they chose not to. Instead they stared longingly at the one kid inside who was laughing and enjoying the zip-line ride and swings all to herself. Next to the entrance of the park was a security guard who told me that the playground belonged to the large hotel behind it and they only allowed guests staying there to use it. It was bitter sweet to see one child enjoying themselves so much while the others couldn’t even get a sniff of what it felt like to soar through the air just for the fun of it.

"I like it when someone gets an opportunity & makes the most of it. Could be the smallest of openings but they squeeze in there & pry that shit open" - Our Interview With RAE, Artist ...*| rethinked.org

Art & Photograph by RAE

WHAT IS THE MOST PROVOCATIVE IDEA YOU’VE COME ACROSS IN THE PAST DECADE?

Allow yourself extra time and you can do the work of many alone.

CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT A TRANSFORMATIONAL MOMENT IN YOUR LIFE?

In high school I was a delivery boy at a butcher shop in Brooklyn then later became a deli counter person and then sort of an unofficial manager. I worked there for about 5 years. One day a lady who often shopped there asked me for help and after I assisted her she turned to me and said, “You’re really good at your job. Keep going the way you are and one day you’ll be manager of this place.” For the rest of the work day I kept staring through this large glass window into the back of the store where all the older butchers and meat packers worked. I kept thinking about how each one told me at one time or another of the big dreams they had. Some claimed they still planned on following through with them. I quit the next day.

"I like it when someone gets an opportunity & makes the most of it. Could be the smallest of openings but they squeeze in there & pry that shit open" - Our Interview With RAE, Artist ...*| rethinked.org

Art & Photograph by RAE

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO LIVE A GOOD LIFE?

When I was younger I used to think a “good life” meant having what “you,” as an individual, wanted. Money, success, fame, etc, but as soon as I got a small taste of that I realized it feels very hollow if the people around you don’t have the means to at least make ends meet. So many hardworking people can’t pay the bills no matter how many hours they work in a week. Having the good life means being able to uplift others that want to do for themselves. I like it when someone gets an opportunity and makes the most of it. Could be the smallest of openings but they squeeze in there and pry that shit open.

COULD YOU SHARE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE ABOUT THE ART OF BEING HUMAN? 

Never hold people to the high standards you set for yourself. You’ll be disappointed more often than not. And when you do find those that operate on the same level take note and appreciate rather than be jealous.

WHAT IS YOUR DRIVING QUESTION?

I have several….

How big is the universe?
Will time travel ever be possible?
Will I ever get out of this life alive?
Would I trade in my life up to this point to start over again?

ANY BOOKS OR MOVIES YOU RECOMMEND? 

Books: “The Measure of a Man” by Martin Luther King Jr.
            “On Bullshit” by Harry G. Frankfurt
Movies: Amores Perros, Dead Man, Little Odessa, Rocks With Wings (the documentary film)

. . . *

THANK YOU, RAE!

"I like it when someone gets an opportunity & makes the most of it. Could be the smallest of openings but they squeeze in there & pry that shit open" - Our Interview With RAE, Artist ...*| rethinked.org

Subway Sculpture & Photograph by RAE

 

A Most Delightful Response to Life’s Nagging Questions: “Just slap something on it when you see a blank canvas staring at you with a sort of imbecility”

A Most Delightful Response to Life's Nagging Questions: "Just slap something on it when you see a blank canvas staring at you with a sort of imbecility" | rethinked.org

Artist Unknown

This week, I found myself puzzling about life–puzzling more than usual that is. I lost myself in questions about passion, purpose, action, fear, choices, growing up, courage, art and pain. No need for alarm, this happens every year about a month before my birthday comes around. I find myself undergoing a tiny annual existential crisis, where I question everything, worry that the gap between my actual self (my behaviors, patterns and habits?) and my “ideal” self is widening rather than shrinking and neurotically overthink the connections between thinking, doing and becoming.

The good news about all this mental time travel I undergo each year is that recent studies have found self-projection to be correlated with a greater sense of meaning. What’s a little annual mental anguish over all of one’s life choices in exchange for a meaningful life?

Several lines of work seem to converge on the idea that self-projection is a valuable exercise. Mentally traveling in time, imagining other places, and stepping into other people’s minds can give people a sense of meaning in life. Researchers have found that engaging in nostalgia, the process of sentimentally reflecting on past events, produces reports of greater meaning in life. Projecting oneself forward into the future—whether through hopeful thinking or considering one’s legacy after death—has also been associated with elevated reports of meaning in life.

[ . . . ]

In five additional studies, we found that having people project themselves forward or backward in time or into other geographic locations—compared with having people think about the present—boosted their subsequent reports of meaning in life. The reason for this link turned out to be deceptively simple. When our research participants considered life beyond the present moment, they often conjured up events and places that were more profound, meaningful, and awe-inspiring than the current moment. – Step Outside Yourself: Meditation says to focus on the present. But life may be more meaningful if you don’t.

…*

When I start to become overwhelmed by questions, I generally turn to the artists for insight and guidance. I’ve written a lot about the creative process on rethinked …* and shared countless insights from various artists. That’s because an artist, by definition–at least by my definition–is someone who owns, cultivates and deploys his or her own distinctive voice. At the end of the day, I don’t believe someone without a particular point of view and the ability and desire to express said point of view can be considered an artist. So I was excited to see this short video featuring French high-wire artist and general creative “outlaw,” Philippe Petit on what it means to live as an artist:

“Anyone that embarks into the arts, and even if you’re not an artist or a performer, in the art of living as an extension, will have the most difficult life because it’s the opposite of lethargy and laziness and dragging your feet and dying as you live. So if you want your life to be exciting, if you find the motor necessary for a great life, which is passion, you will have a difficult life and at the same time your life will be very easy in a sense that you will not have to struggle to find ways, it is in you, it devours you, you have to do it–using your intuition and your passion. So, for example, well people sometimes ask me, “how can I be creative?” Or. “I am a young artist and I want to develop my art.” And right there, I build a big wall between two concepts that to me are very opposite: the concept of a career and the concept of life. So, if somebody says, “You know, I am starting a career as an actor, do you have any advice?” I say, “Yes, drop the word career from your vocabulary—LIVE as an actor, you know? Don’t try to do things in a strategic way, do things as your heart tells you. If you feel you are a comic character, do not accept any drama, go into the comic and start developing it. The work of art is a perpetual trampoline; it is ephemeral; it is fragile; it is mysterious. There is no rule to describe what an artistic way of life is. So if you want to go in an artistic way of life and you carry the luggage of money and time and strategy and politics, well you will never be an artist. You know? But it’s fine, many false artists are doing that. But the true artist, in my opinion, should not think of a career, you should think of your life.

 . . . *

When the questions become overwhelming, or when one cannot find an entry way into living one’s life as one wants, Van Gogh has the perfect remedy:

Just slap something on it when you see a blank canvas staring at you with a sort of imbecility.

You don’t know how paralyzing it is, that stare from a blank canvas that says to the painter you can’t do anything. The canvas has an idiotic stare, and mesmerizes some painters so that they turn into idiots themselves.

Many painters are afraid of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas IS AFRAID of the truly passionate painter who dares—and who has once broken the spell of ‘you can’t.’

Life itself likewise always turns towards one an infinitely meaningless, discouraging, dispiriting blank side on which there is nothing, any more than on a blank canvas.

But however meaningless and vain, however dead life appears, the man of faith, of energy, of warmth, and who knows something, doesn’t let himself be fobbed off like that. He steps in and does something, and hangs on to that, in short, breaks, ‘violates’—they say.

Let them talk, those cold theologians.

Advice from Van Gogh: Just Slap Something on It

. . . *  

Finally, I think I’ve shared this before, but when I am anxious or puzzled or just generally blue I go straight to the bookstore. Earlier this week, while browsing the children’s books–which I love as I truly believe most children understand very deeply and intuitively a lot of things we forget and unlearn and complicate terribly as we grow older–I discovered Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld (who also coauthored the sublime Duck Rabbit book). It’s the charming story of an exclamation mark who feels out of place amongst the other punctuation marks until he meets a question mark who, through her endless questions, helps him discover his voice!! Enjoy …* 

Milton Glaser: You Can’t Take Anything at Face Value, You Have to Go Beyond the Superficiality of Existing Belief …*

“I saw a Cézanne that I had never seen, a pencil and watercolor of a landscape, and I was transformed. By looking at it, my world was enlarged. At this ancient age, I am still capable of astonishment, of feeling, “My god, I never had this experience before.” And that is what the arts provide, this sense of enlargement and the sense that you haven’t come to the end of your understanding—either of yourself or of other things.” – Milton Glaser

If you’re looking to infuse your day with a hefty dose of inspiration, I suggest this interview, which iconic graphic designer Milton Glaser gave for Jonathan Fields’ Good Life Project. The conversation is full of insights into Milton’s creative process and his understanding of the human experience. I highly recommend finding the time to watch the video in full, but in the meantime, I have transcribed below my three favorite insights from the conversation.

make the ordinary unknown & rethink …*

Milton Glaser: Certainty Is A Closing of the Mind via The Good Life Project

{ To Make Something Is Miraculous & the Creation of Beauty, At Its Core, Is About Empathy }

After a while you begin to realize, a. how little you know about everything and, two, how vast the brain is and how it encompasses everything you can imagine, but more than that, everything you can’t imagine. What is perhaps central to this is the impulse to make things, which seems to me to be a primary characteristic of human beings—the desire to make things–whatever they turn out to be. And then, supplementary to that is the desire to create beauty which is a different, but analogous activity. So the urge to make things, probably, is a survival device, the urge to create beauty is something else, but only apparently something else, because as you know, there are no unrelated events in the human experience. So beauty, and the creation of it, is a survival mechanism. There is something about making things beautiful, and we sometimes call that art, that has something to do with creating a commonality between human beings so that they don’t kill each other. And whatever that impulse is and wherever it comes from, it certainly is contained within every human being I’ve ever met. Sometime the opportunity to articulate it occurs, sometimes it remains dormant for a lifetime, you just don’t get the shot at it.
But I’ve been very lucky, I’ve imagined myself as a maker of things since the age of five. I realized that to make something was miraculous and I never stopped. I just kept making things all my life.
*

{ Learning to See is A LifeLong Endeavor; Drawing Helps }

The great benefits of drawing is that when you look at something you see it for the first time.
You have to constantly be attentive to what you deflect in life and what you don’t pay attention to and all the things that you can’t see, and all the preconceptions that you do have about everything. Those preconceptions basically blur your vision. It’s very hard to see what’s in front of you.
*

{ Be Suspicious of Defining the “Good Life,” Don’t take anything at face value & go beyond the superficiality of existing belief }

I’m very suspicious of some words like that and also what they link to. I guess I feel now that you can’t take anything at face value, you have to go beyond the superficiality of existing belief. My favorite quote is, “Certainty is a closing of the mind”. And so, I don’t know what a good life is. A good life for me, certainly, has been the things that I think are important–friendships that I have; people that I love; certainly, a marriage that has endured and continues to endure; teaching, which I’ve been doing for well over half a century, and feeling that whatever you know has a possibility of being transmitted and shared—outside of that I wouldn’t know how to define a good life. And as you know some people seem to be heroes to some and villains to others.
*

Neil Gaiman: Make Glorious & Fantastic Mistakes, Break Rules, Leave the World More Interesting For Your Being Here …*

Now go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes, break rules, leave the world more interesting for your being here, make good art.” – Neil Gaiman

I’ve finally had the opportunity to watch Neil Gaiman’s splendid commencement address to the 2012 graduating class of The University of the Arts In Philadelphia. In his speech, Gaiman shares some of the things he wished he had known starting out and the best piece of advice he’s ever received and completely failed to follow. To the extent that [ being | becoming ] an artist is about developing one’s voice (and perhaps, most critically, the courage to share and own that voice) this is an essential talk for any individual invested in living up to their full potential. I’ve transcribed some of my favorite bits below in case you don’t have the time to watch the video just yet, but I highly recommend watching it in its entirety when you get the chance.

watch & rethink …*

Neil Gaiman Addresses the University of the Arts Class of 2012 from The University of the Arts (Phl) on Vimeo.

[ E M B R A C E   S H O S H I N ]

First of all, when you start out on a career in the Arts, you have no idea what you’re doing. This is great. People who know what they’re doing, know the rules and they know what is possible and what is impossible. You do not and you should not. The rules on what is possible and impossible in the Arts, were made by people who had not tested the bounds of the possible by going beyond them. And you can. If you don’t know it’s impossible, it’s easier to do. And because nobody’s done it before, they haven’t made up rules to stop anyone doing that particular thing again.

[  K E E P   W A L K I N G   T O W A R D S   Y O U R   M O U N T A I N ]

Sometimes the way to do what you hope to do will be clear cut and sometimes it will be almost impossible to decide whether or not you’re doing the correct thing because you’ll have to balance your goals and hopes with feeding yourself, paying debts, finding work, settling for what you can get. Something that worked for me, was imagining that where I wanted to be, which was an author, primarily fiction, making good books, making good comics, making good drama and supporting myself through my words—imagining that was a mountain, a distant mountain. My goal. And I knew that as long as I kept walking towards the mountain, I’d be alright. And when I truly was not sure what to do, I could stop and think about whether it was taking me towards or away from the mountain. I said no to editorial jobs on magazines, proper jobs that would have paid proper money, because I knew that attractive though they were, for me, they would have been walking away from the mountain. And if those job offers had come earlier, I might have taken them because they still would have been closer to the mountain than I was at that time. I learned to write by writing. I tended to do anything as long as it felt like an adventure and to stop when it felt like work, which meant that life did not feel like work.

[ M A K E   M I S T A K E S ]

Fourthly, I hope you’ll make mistakes. If you make mistakes it means you’re out there doing something. And the mistakes in themselves can be very useful. I once misspelled Caroline in a letter, transposing the A and the O, and I thought, “Coraline,” looks almost like a real name.

[ M A K E   G O O D   A R T ] 

When things get tough, this is what you should do: Make good art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician–make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor—make good art. IRS on your trail—make good art. Cat exploded—make good art. Someone on the Internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before— make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, eventually time will take the sting away, and that doesn’t even matter. Do what only you can do best: Make good art. Make it on the bad days, make it on the good days, too.

[ C R E A T E   &   L I V E   A S   O N L Y   Y O U   C A N ]

And fifthly, while you’re at it, make your art—do the stuff that only you can do. The urge, starting out, is to copy and that’s not a bad thing. Most of us only find our own voices after we’ve sounded like a lot of other people. But the one thing that you have, that nobody else has, is you—your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build, and play and dance and live as only you can. The moment that you feel that just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself, that’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.

[ E M B R A C E   U N C E R T A I N T Y ]

 The things I’ve done that worked the best, were the things I was the least certain about. The stories where I was sure they’d either work or more likely be the kind of embarrassing failures that people would gather together and discuss until the end of time—they always had that in common. Looking back at them, people explained why they were inevitable successes and when I was doing them, I had no idea. I still don’t and where would be the fun in making something you knew was going to work? And sometimes the things I did really didn’t work. There are stories of mine that have never been reprinted, some of them never even left the house. But I learned as much from them as I did from the things that worked.

[ L E T   G O   &   E N J O Y   T H E   R I D E ]

So when I agreed to give this address, I thought, “what is the best piece of advice I was ever given?” And I realized that it was actually a piece of advice that I had failed to follow. And it came from Stephen King. It was twenty years ago, at the height of the initial success of Sandman, the comic I was writing. I was writing a comic people loved and they were taking it seriously. And Stephen King liked Sandman and my novel with Terry Pratchett, Good Omens, and he saw the madness that was going on, the long signing lines, all of that stuff and his advice to me was this: he said, “this is really great, you should enjoy it.” And I didn’t. Best advice I ever got that I ignored. Instead, I worried about it. I worried about the next deadline, the next idea, the next story. There wasn’t a moment for the next fourteen or fifteen years, that I wasn’t writing something in my head or wondering about it. And I didn’t stop and look around and go, “this is really fun.” I wish I’d enjoyed it more. It’s been an amazing ride but there were parts of the ride I missed because I was too worried about things going wrong, about what came next, to enjoy the bit that I was on. That was the hardest lesson for me, I think—to let go and enjoy the ride. Because the ride takes you to some remarkable and unexpected places.

[ F A K E   I T   T O   M A K E    I T,   I F   Y O U   N E E D   T O ]

Someone asked me recently how to do something she thought was going to be difficult–in this case, recording an audio book. And I suggested she pretend that she was someone who could do it. Not pretend to do it, but pretend she was someone who could. She put up a notice to this effect on the studio wall and she said it helped. So be wise because the world needs more wisdom. And if you cannot be wise, pretend to be someone who is wise and then just behave like they would.

*

Debbie Millman on Finding Inner Courage, Taking Responsibility for Your Own Happiness & Growing Into Your Self …*

“Imagine immensities. Try to pick yourself up from rejection. And, plow ahead. Don’t compromise. Start now. Start now, every single day.” -Debbie Millman on what it means to her to live a good life.

Is It Really Possible To Design Your Life via The Good Life Project, published April 23, 2014.

Here is a wonderful interview with Debbie Millman by Jonathan Fields of The Good Life Project. In this hour long conversation Debbie, with her characteristic honesty, intelligence and elegance, shares how she has designed her life, and attempted to create and own a sense of meaning and purpose in the process. 

– YOU CHANGE CONSTANTLY, WHETHER YOU REALIZE IT OR NOT – 

“I very very recently found diaries–I kept diaries from 1973 until 1992–and I’ve been going through them and reading them all and I realized just how low I felt and how hopeless I felt about life. It’s sort of interesting, I think as you grow as a person, as a human being, you sort of somehow think you’re still the same person, you’re just bringing all of those experiences along and yes, you’ve realized more, but you’re intrinsically the same person. And I guess, I’ve been thinking a lot about that because now that I’m in my fifties, I feel like I’m still fourteen. But then when I went back and read my journals at fourteen, or my diaries, I am definitely not fourteen and I am nothing like that fourteen year old person, nor am I like the thirty-two or forty-two year old person. But going through that is what gives you that clarity–seeing how far you’ve actually come. How there isn’t quite as much self-loathing. How there isn’t quite as much insecurity–it’s still there but it’s not the prevailing emotion.”

– DON’T GIVE UP HOPE OF GROWING INTO YOURSELF – 

“The one common denominator that I can share with anybody that feels self-loathing, or insecurity in their twenties, or thirties, or forties, or fifties, is don’t give up hope that that might not ever go away because I think it does. I’ve done about, now, two-hundred interviews, I’m close to my two-hundredth episode of Design Matters and then there’s been all sorts of live events that I’ve done over the years and then all the interviews that I’ve done for Brand Thinking and How to Think Like A Great Graphic Designer, and the one common denominator that I can share that great brand thinkers, great cultural commentators, great designers have shared with me over the years is that they all feel like they have to get up everyday and do it again. They all feel like they very well may be discovered as phonies, they very well may never ever achieve what they’d hoped. The only two people in all the years that I’ve done this that have been different in that–that have had a different experience in articulating who they are and what they believe–are Milton Glaser and Massimo Vignelli. But I think the common denominator that they share, is that they’re both in their eighties. They’re both in their eighties. I think by the time we’re eighty, we’ll be like, “ok, you know, this is who I am.” Either that or you don’t have any idea who you are. “

– YOUR HAPPINESS IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY – 

“You have to make your own happiness, wherever you are–your job isn’t going to make you happy, your spouse isn’t going to make you happy, the weather isn’t going to make you happy, a restaurant isn’t going to make you happy. I think you have to decide what you want and you have to find that way of doing it, whether or not the outside circumstances are going to participate in your success. And for people that want to create something meaningful, if you’re not getting it at work, then do it at home. If you’re not getting it everyday in the workplace, self-generate your own work. Make what you need to do to be happy. Even if other people think it’s crap, even if other people think it’s terrible. You have to be able to create your own happiness, period.” 

– FINDING INNER COURAGE – 

“That’s why I took Milton [Glaser]’s class, it was touted as a really good class for people mid-career that wanted to shift the focus of what they were doing and sort of find their inner courage. And it changed my life, it absolutely changed my life. Where, suddenly, Milton was very very clear about defending your life, about owning your choices, about making the choices that you hold yourself to as if you had no issue with succeeding. What would you do if you weren’t afraid? What would you do if you didn’t have to worry about being successful? And he has you envision your whole life–your entire life, five years from that moment in time–if you could do anything in the world that you wanted, what would it be? And you have to own it, you have to defend it, you have to declare it. And he talked about the magic in that exercise. And how over the fifty years he’s been teaching, that this particular class was the most important class that he taught and how it transforms lives. He talked about how he’d always heard from people that that exercise, that class, was the defining moment–the before and the after–and that was what it was for me. And suddenly I had this scenario, this vision, and that is what I think has helped propel me to lead a more purposeful life.”

– BUSY IS A DECISION – 

“I’m afraid to give up stuff. I’ll take on new things and still do the old stuff. That’s become a little bit untenable […] I’m a big proponent of “busy is a decision”–you decide what you want to do and the things that are important to you and you don’t find the time to do things, you make the time to do things. And if you aren’t doing them because you are “too busy,” it’s likely it’s not as much of a priority as is what it is you’re actually doing. And that could be watching reruns of Law and Order SVU, you know, I do that all the time, but you have to own that and you have to really say, “Ok, I know that this isn’t as important to me as watching Olivia Benson get the bad guys.” I think knowing it helps.”

– REACHING THE NEXT STEP BY TAKING A LEAP OF FAITH –

“What I’ve done, because I am so afraid of giving something secure up for the unknown, is I’ve kept the secure and then taken on the unknown. You know, there’s that scene in the third installment of Indiana Jones, where Harrison Ford just takes a step–I think you have to do that. I don’t think you can achieve anything meaningful without taking it. […] I think in order to take that next step you literally have to take the step and hope the ground is beneath you.”  

-THE MAGIC OF OWNING YOUR VISION FOR YOUR LIFE –

“In that class with Milton, I made a list–I love lists–I made a list of all the things that I still dreamt that I could do or achieve or experience. And it wasn’t a bucket list, it was like twelve things and I put the list away. I finished Milton’s class and then I started to try ever so sort of elegantly, or inelegantly, to take the steps to try to get a few of those things. And once a year now I reread the essay that I wrote and then I look at the list and it’s mind-boggling because there are things on the list that I actually forgot we’re on the list and it’s scary how so many of them have become something that has manifested. And you know, Milton says it’s magic, maybe it is.”

listen & rethink …

What’s the one thing that you learned in the last decade that you wished someone had told you 10 years ago?

What's the one thing that you learned in the last decade that you wished someone had told you 10 years ago? | rethinked.org

Stikman – photograph: my own

 

In January 2013, Wooster Collective, which showcases and celebrates ephemeral art placed on streets in cities around the world, celebrated its tenth anniversary. In honor of that happy occasion, they ran an interview series where they asked a group of artists whom they had showcased in the beginning of their website the following question: “What’s the one thing that you learned in the last decade that you had wished someone had told you 10 years ago?”

Being an immense fan of both ‘street art’ and good questions, I was thrilled to browse the various artists’ answers. Below, are some of my favorite insights from the 10 Years of Wooster series. I’d love to hear your own answer to that question — What’s the one thing that you learned in the last decade that you had wished someone had told you 10 years ago? As for me, I need to sit on that a bit, but I sense a new post coming, stay tuned.

reflect & rethink …

 

“Ignore opinions, even when they favor you.” – Logan Hicks

 – – – – 

“To live and let live, to not criticize what the others do, and spend your time doing your own work and what you believe in.” – TVBOY

– – – – 

“If I have to choose between them, the one thing that I tried to follow in life, I think of the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever” – Microbo

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“I always had the idea that you find the thing you like doing the most in life and you hook yourself to it like a mule to a cart and grind away until you reach some pinnacle…but it turns out that in the end it never arrives.  Life isn’t a mountain. The journey is the only reward.” – Mark Jenkins

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“Let it go” Is probably the best lesson I was given these last 10 years. The lesson was in connection to painting, but it also works in life.” – DHM

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“I think it should be to learn to put things in perspective, see what’s really important and what’s just there to stress you out and would show up every day in a hundred ways just to ruin the day or the week.” – Calma

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I believe that embracing the unknown is a critical element in my work and I seek discovery as a profound influence. I am glad for all of the new stimulations as I walk down the street. But upon reflection of this topic I realized I wish someone had told me how fast the last ten years would go by. I know it is only a perception issue but the pace of change has caused time to seem like it is speeding by faster and faster with each passing year. Everything is new today and forgotten tomorrow. Everything is available twenty four hours a day and it all bleeds together like never ending mash-up. This is neither a bad nor a good thing but it does have the effect of making ten years ago seem like just yesterday. I tried to address this problem in my art in 2007 by starting a ten year Tribal/Primordial cycle of stik figures. This has allowed me to slow down my thinking and take a long view of a project instead of my usual manic approach. Each year I produce a new unique figure which I install over and over again during that calendar year. I am now in the seventh year of the cycle.” – Stikman

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“In that edge… Is where creation lives […] I have as many regrets as I do fond memories of the last 10 years, but the best piece of advice I’ve ever seen given by anyone is Ice T’s ‘Fuck it’ theory. ‘Fuck it’ gets you across that line. Push the limits. Take more risks.”- Mysterious Al

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“The one thing that I learned long time ago is to respect and be curious about what other artists do and never ever be in competition with anyone… Never being jealous or criticize the career, the decisions and the style of other artists…being sure of what you are doing or being sure about yourself and know that what you are doing is right and pure… Never make art for money but let the money come in the direction of your art and life. Struggle and fight every day about your freedom as an artist and forget about the roller coaster of emotions that life imposes to everyone.. Always be happy and instinctive about what you are doing or just stop, skin up and start again…” – Galo

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“I finished my Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2003. I wish someone had told me then that boredom, oil and canvas are not the only ways of making Art. ” – Vinz

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“Seriously thats a tough one to answer, theres so much that i’ve learnt over the last 10 years, mainly through trial and error, but I guess the principal to them all is DO IT YOUR WAY, I think in many respects the early, somewhat innocent years, were the best years and in hind sight some of the lessons i’ve learnt have shown me that we had it right in those early years. Also to Live YOUR Dream and stay true to it, over a decade ago no one could have imagined where this scene would take us, the twists, turns, peaks, pitfalls and so long as when you search your heart, you’re comfortable and at ease with the decisions you’ve made then there’s really very little else that matters.” – D*Face

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“to not forget that DREAMS COME TRUE!” – Vómito Attack

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“The one thing I wish someone had told me would of been; Don’t panic. Don’t worry. Just keep working. I am a natural worrywort, everything seems on the cusp of collapse. It’s difficult to impart perspective. In my formative years each project and idea appeared to be make or break. I think people probably told me, but I didn’t listen, that actually it’s a long game; the game of making art for a living and avoiding traditional employment. There are up’s and down’s and placid plateaus of inactivity and it’s completely normal. Just keep being bloody minded and focus on making great work and things will fall into place around you. I think it helps to be proactive, forward thinking, presentable, persistent and polite too, of course. The spaghetti randomness of the whims and tastes of the outside world can never be satisfactorily untangled. Just work, with glee and enthusiasm, it’s the only thing we can truly directly dictate.” – Jon Burgerman

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“To be open to influence but ultimately don’t deviate from your aim.” – Toasters

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“During these years I have been told many things and in many ways, I have to say, I am very happy I did not listened to them. Often. I have been given advice and opinions on how to proceed in my career …and don’t get me wrong, I find this very useful and I’m always interested to hear other people’s experiences and advice. At the same time, keeping in mind what I was told, I have always preferred to find my way in things, and if nothing else, I’ve always had the need to try it for myself to make my own opinion. Sometimes I was wrong but I was always ready to change my point of view and it happened a few times. Many other times, however, my intuition was right and even though at the time seemed absurd and wrong, time has proved me right. Probably this has happened, thanks to the strong values ​​that were given to me by my family, good friends and my life experiences over the years. I never chose the easy way, I never made ​​choices based on money, fame and notoriety, I never believed the hype. but instead, I decided to follow my values​​, my heart and my passions trying to compromise as little as possible and stay true to my beliefs…. and Havin’ Fun! These are things that I learned a long time ago and they will stay with me for the rest of my life.” – BO130

{ Creative Confidence } Shantell Martin on How Unlearning Is Harder Than Learning …*

{ Creative Confidence } Shantell Martin on How Unlearning Is Harder Than Learning ...*  | rethinked.org

“If you ask a kid, ‘Can you draw?’ They answer, ‘Yeah, of course. Where are the pens?’ But if you ask an adult, they often say ‘Oh, no. I can’t draw.’ or, ‘I can only draw stick men.’ Through this infrastructure that we call the school system, or just the social system, we’ve trained creativity out of people. When you’re a kid, and if you can’t draw a house that looks like a house, then you fail. If you can’t draw a person that looks like a person, you fail. All those kids that had a crazy imagination, that were doing their own creative thing, and had their own unique style, they’re told ‘You fail, you fail, you fail.’”

“We all have that voice inside that says, ‘You can’t do that.’ And you have to overpower that voice. It’s definitely about patience and confidence. Unlearning is harder than learning.” -Shantell Martin 

Source: Shantell Martin: Why Being An Artist Is Fundamentally About Hard Work via PSFK, published January

Barbara Kruger On How We Define “Artist” & How That Affects Who Considers Becoming One …*

 

“I think one of the reasons that I thought about art is that I was one of the few kids in my class–there are always a few–who knew how to draw. And of course it had to do with this replication of the real–that if you had that talent, then you were an artist, which of course is a very simplified way of being an artist. It’s a skill set but it’s not necessarily an art. 

I didn’t think I’d be an artist because I didn’t know anything about art and came from a very poor working class family in Newark, New Jersey. And no one in my family had really gone to college and I certainly didn’t know about the art world or what it might mean to have the luxury of objectifying my experience of the world, stuff like that.”  – Barbara Kruger

How might we reframe the definition of the artist so that all students– not just the few that possess a specific skill set or parents who can afford the time and resources to take them to galleries and museums–may consider and embrace their artistic potential?

How might schools democratize creative confidence?

Source: Barbara Kruger – Design Matters with Debbie Milman Archive: 2005-2009 via Design Observer, published April 13, 2007

Friday Link Fest…*

Failure Sweet Failure

Indifference towards people and the reality in which they live is actually the one and only cardinal sin in design. ~ Dieter Rams

 

READ

Failure and Redemption ~A model for dealing with failure productively. via Steve Blank, published February 26, 2013.

The Rise of the Mini-Preneurs: A Kid-Run Virtual Lemonade Stand To Teach Entrepreneurship ~ Making entrepreneurship a part of the curriculum. via GOOD, published February 11, 2013.

The Learning Potential ~ The sweet spot of education innovation lies between the evolution of iterative design and making processes and the capacity to grow self-knowledge of one’s learning spectrum and potential. Here is to gleaning insights from new learning structures in the informal and formal domains and puzzling over how we can bring boundless ideas and ideals in the field together. via The Creativity Post, published February 13, 2013.

How Small Innovation Teams Hit the Nail ~ …* via Innovation Excellence, published February 25, 2013.

The Learning Virtues ~ Editorial by David Brooks, via The New York Times, published February 28, 2013.

 

WATCH

Amanda Palmer: The art of asking ~ Don’t make people pay for music, says Amanda Palmer: Let them. In a passionate talk that begins in her days as a street performer (drop a dollar in the hat for the Eight-Foot Bride!), she examines the new relationship between artist and fan. via TED, published February 2013.

Sugata Mitra: Build a School in the Cloud ~ Onstage at TED2013, Sugata Mitra makes his bold TED Prize wish: Help me design the School in the Cloud, a learning lab in India, where children can explore and learn from each other — using resources and mentoring from the cloud. Hear his vision for Self Organized Learning Environments (SOLE), and learn more at tedprize.org. via TED, published February 2013.

Mark Zuckerberg & Bill Gates Want Kids to Learn Code ~ In a new video for Code.org, tech icons and celebrities talk about why students should have the opportunity to learn basic computer programming. via PSFK, published February 27, 2013.

10-Year-Old’s Recycling Business Hailed by City Leaders ~ Vanis Buckholz’s My ReCycler business. via TreeHugger, published January 25, 2013.

Rethinking…* Homelessness & Artistic Expression ~ Starving Artists Project

There’s now a record 46,000 homeless people in New York City struggling to communicate their very basic need for help, the need for food, the need for shelter, the need to be recognized. They reach out through the only means they have: scraps of cardboard and their own creativity. Sadly, we don’t even look, we’ve been subconsciously trained to ignore even the passionate cries for help of the homeless to go completely unnoticed. But what if there was a way to change this by changing the way we interpret these messages. After observing the creation of these signs, it became clear that these were not just messages, but rather heartfelt, beautiful pieces of handmade human expression. These were in every way individual pieces of art. We made it our mission to redirect these artful cries for help away from the streets to a forum where they could be properly seen and appreciated to inspire change.

Starving Artists Project is a social art initiative giving the NYC homeless community’s artistic cries for help a larger platform to inspire greater action.  Founded by Thompson Harrell & Nick Zafonte, the Starving Artists Project is based on the recognition that the signs for help of homeless people are “not just messages, but rather heartfelt, beautiful pieces of handmade human expression”, which led to their mission: “to redirect their artful cries for help from the streets to a forum where they can be properly appreciated, giving the homeless a more powerful voice, to bring about a more profound change.” Partnering up with world-renowned photographer, Andrew Zuckerman, Starving Artists Project photographed nearly thirty artists and collected their messages. The collection made its debut at the Dumbo Art Center in Brooklyn, NY, with the artists there to be recognized by the public.

Enjoy & rethink…*

(The Starving Artists Project Film from Thompson Harrell on Vimeo.)

 

John John

By John John

Shavar Stora

By Shavar Stora

Head over to StarvingArtistsProject.com for more pictures of the artists and their work.

(images via: starvingartistproject.com)

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