Sunday, March 27, 2016

Creativity isn’t a linear experience, it’s an associative one

Every artist creates sketches. 

Small, imperfect, nonlinear piecemeal art that isn’t fully fleshed out. They’re brief accounts. Pocket notes. Opening shots. Micro expressions. Bits and pieces. Splashes of inspiration that capture individual feelings and moments and perspectives. 

And they don’t necessarily have to be pictures, either. Sketches are medium agnostic. 

Carlin, for example, would include sections in his comedy books called short takes. These were one liners, quips, questions, quotations and other stand alone scraps of material, apropos of nothing. My favorite was:

If you love someone, set them free, if they come home, set them on fire. 

The challenging part about creating in this fragmentary associative way is, the human brain has a natural impulse to think in terms of beginnings and endings. We tell ourselves that whatever art we make has to adhere to chronology and sequence and order. And anything that detaches from that tidy little formula isn’t worth saving or sharing. 

But as we mature artistically, we realize that creativity isn’t a linear experience, it’s an associative one. Meaning, we have to make piece of with piecemeal. 

I have a cartoonist friend who recently published a book of short stories and comics. And my favorite part of the book is the appendix, which contains scanned pages from his actual sketchbook. Ideas, characters and pictures that never found a home in a particular chapter, but still deserved to be part of the final product. 

Because they’re the inside track of the creator’s brain. The raw materials from which larger art was made. Jason even told me that those sketches at the end of the book were like little love letters to all the ideas in his life that he thought were failures. 

What a beautiful sentiment. And so, every artist should create sketches. And every artist should give themselves permission to share and use them. 

Remembering, that just because something isn’t complete doesn’t mean it’s not art. Just because an idea isn’t fully fleshed out doesn’t it doesn’t deserve a home. 

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Filmmaker. Inventor. Singer. Songwriter. 
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