All creativity begins with the moment of conception.
That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.
And so, in this blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.
Today's clip comes from the rooster scene in To Inform And Delight:
What can we learn?
Make whatever you feel like you’re missing. Treat others as you’d want to be treated. Be the change you want to see in the world. Two sides of the same philosophical coin. Interestingly, artists have their own version of these maxims. They create what they want to see in the world. The write the book they’d want to write. They make the movie they’d want to watch. They paint the murals they’d want to see. I’m reminded of a podcast with the principal songwriter of a multiplatinum rock band. Fascinating origin story. Back in the late nineties, Mike finally got fed up of flipping through the radio dial and never hearing the hard, aggressive rap music he so badly craved. And so, he started a band and created just that. He made exactly what he felt he was missing in the world. Because he knew that he wasn’t alone. Sixty million albums later, his audience proved him right. Glaser, similarly, isn’t just an illustrator, he’s a reminder. That if we’re not happy with the posters and billboards and public signage we see around us, it’s our responsibility to try and do better. To let our work do the talking, not our words. Because the best way to complain is to make things. To invent the world we want to live in. How could you leverage your frustration in the world as motivation to grow into the artist you’ve always wanted to be?
All art is selfish art. When it comes to writing, I’ve always been as selfish as possible. I write about myself, to myself and for myself. I don’t care about being right. I don’t care about being the best. And I’m not trying to deliver some systemic worldview for people to follow. I’m just trying to explain my own life to myself. I’m trying to metabolize my experiences, organize my thoughts and process my feelings. That’s why I make art. It’s completely selfish. Because it’s not about the product, it’s about the transformation inside of me that happens during the process of making it. Like my mentor used to say, first you write the book, then the book writes you. That’s what I always loved about this movie. Glaser never cared about the label society assigned to him. To him, the core value was always the act of making things. The transformation of the idea that he held in his mind that became real or material. In fact, his most well known design, perhaps one of the most iconic slogans on the planet, earned him nothing. Glaser claims there were no cash rewards as a consequence of drawing it. On the other hand, he says, it makes him feel very, very proud to have taken part in that shift in the city’s consciousness from being indifferent to itself, to realizing, wow, we love this place. Proving my theory, that we should be selfish when we create art, but generous when we share it. What are the barriers to getting your work in people’s hands?
Focus is a function of identity, not activity. Milton is one of my heroes because of his deeply diverse portfolio. He’s produced work in a wide range of design disciplines, including logos, stationery, brochures, signage, website design, annual reports, exhibitions, interiors and exteriors of restaurants, shopping malls, supermarkets, hotels, product packaging and product design. That’s inspiring. And to think, it all started from drawing sketches of naked ladies for the kids in the neighborhood. I’m reminded of another one my artistic heroes, who famously said that diversity is not a business decision, it’s a way of staying interested. We should all be so lucky to venture into various creative territories and mediums and platforms and avenues. It doesn’t mean we’ve spread ourselves too thin. It doesn’t make us a jack of all trades. In fact, diversity is the highest creative form of focus there is. Because art isn’t about hammering one nail all our lives, it’s about hammering lots of nails––one way––all our lives. Are you focusing on what you need to do or what you need to be?
What did you learn?
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That Guy with the Nametag
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