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That cool van - Portrait of a Young Man as The Artist — LiveJournal
That cool van

That cool van
Originally uploaded by ABMann
Lifehack: How to boost your creativity. Kinda neat.

The site say at the onset of the list of ways to up your creativity that people believe that ideas are a zero-sum adventure.

Quote: "If you feel that each idea created limits your ability to create new ideas, you’re output will be only a trickle. The best writers, programmers, designers and idea-generators I know believe that the supply of ideas is endless...."

Seriously? People think that ideas are limited? That seems just ungodly silly to assume to me for reasons I don't quite understand. Creativity isn't some solid entity from which you chip your ideas. Even the word creativity is rooted in create. That ideas are endless is a "duh" notion to me. Maybe I'm weird, though.

One point in particular I disagree with and I think many of you would have opinions on it.
  • Publish Garbage.
    If you are starting out in a new pursuit, you have only one goal: boost creative output. This often means publishing junk until you train yourself to do a better job. Feedback from the world (not self-judgment) is the fastest way to hone your creative flow.

There's certainly truth to getting the shlock out but what do they really mean by "publish?" I don't want people to see the crap I produce but I recognize that, if I don't put it out there, I'm less likely to publish anything at all.

However, I'd expect that if I were to publish crap I'd be taken less seriously when I produce something good. Maybe that's a zero-sum game, that you have a finite quantity of renown that is hindered when you produce crap that you show around. Or that your fame/notoriety plateaus sooner and longer if you have a pile of bad work showing along with your good. That makes some sense. I have some Flickr buddies that only show the best of their work and seem to be much beloved by the community; others, myself included, are mostly ignored even when showing something really good. I wonder if it's people seeing X good work as a fluke through a body of work.

What do you think? Is it worth it to show your weaker work if it helps you put out the better work? Or, because you put out the crap, will it hinder you?
24 comments or Leave a comment
techdragon From: techdragon Date: November 27th, 2007 02:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
However, I'd expect that if I were to publish crap I'd be taken less seriously when I produce something good.

The key you are missing is personal perspective. Something that *you* think is crap - may just be genius to someone else. It may become the thing, the look, the image that makes you famous or takes you further.

Sometimes even something technically - as in all those dot and numbers - is less polished or even in error becomes a new art. You have to remember that people see the world and interpret art and photography differently - ones trash is another's treasure. If you work to perfect so much, you may miss the ability to make something great.
techdragon From: techdragon Date: November 27th, 2007 02:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think that you are also reading "bad" as "disastrous".... people go and change and the audience, whether they be art critics, normal joe or a potential job.... want to see growth and change. No one comes out of the box perfect.

When putting together my costume design portfolio for graduation, I was instructed to put my best foot forward and some of my not so great feet behind (in the book). It is all there. My first sketches and sewing projects are in the back and they get better as you go forward. Sure, my employers see the best when they open it up but they *ALL* look all the way through the book..... and they *ALL* comment on how I have improved.

That is the impressive part. If you don't show the beginning.... you won't know how far you have come and neither will your audience.
abmann From: abmann Date: November 27th, 2007 02:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Why would anyone care where someone has been? Because a person used to suck doesn't mean that what they're doing now is any good, or even matters in terms of their career arch. I'd say that an artists past only matters when he or she is popular now as a marker for change. But no one cares where you'd been unless they care where you are now.
techdragon From: techdragon Date: November 27th, 2007 02:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nope. People do care because it is the artistic process that many find to be fascinating. In the world of art (as in paintings) some of the most sought after pieces are the earliest works - sometimes even signed but clearly noted, because the 'before you were famous' is important.

It does matter if a person used to suck and now is good because 'what happened?' and 'what did they learn?'. To employers and critics especially, this means and show in a tangible real way that you have a brain and are expanding it. You can grow and change and that you will constantly be producing something different and newer in you path. If you show the best and then turn out the same - you are essentially a one-trick-pony.

Some people love the beginning art of an artist. People want the first raw version of them... and could care less how famous they become afterwards.
graydancer From: graydancer Date: November 27th, 2007 02:55 pm (UTC) (Link)

I agree with her first comment...

...that first of all, you are always your own worst critic. But I disagree with the idea that no one cares where you've been unless they care where you are.

I always hated Mondrian. Thought his paintings were the worst examples of self-indulgent crap. Ditto Monet. Fucking haystacks, lily pads, come on. Then one day a girlfriend dragged me through a museum that had a retrospective of all his works (Mondrian) starting from his student sketches in art school. Because I liked this girl, I went through it step by step...and saw how his style changed, saw how he got past what he was taught, and the crap he produced there, to where he ended up producing what I now see as great work. I didn't care for him before, but seeing his "crap" made me care about him later.

Ever read Charles DeLint's Mulengro? Total crap. The worst kind of hack & slash sensationalist fantasy. Yet compare it to the stories of Christie and the City and it's amazing to see how the themes were there.

I agree with the idea: post your crap. Hell, I published mine, and you know what? Some people really like it. It's all about furthering the human aesthetic.

there's a story about the editor John W. Campbell that is relevant to this, but I don't know where it is online. sfeley tells it really well. Basically, the point of it is: who are you to judge what somebody else does or doesn't like? You're the artist; your job is to produce art. Leave the judgement to the critics; they have to make a living somehow.
abmann From: abmann Date: November 27th, 2007 03:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: I agree with her first comment...

There has to be some mitigating factor. If I just produce crappy photo after crappy photo, I have to lose credibility. If I seriously posted EVERYTHING I produced there's no way I could ever be taken seriously. what's the benefit of showing the public every piece of work? There has to be some internal audit otherwise no one will take you seriously.
rianwyn From: rianwyn Date: November 27th, 2007 03:58 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: I agree with her first comment...

I'm really digging this discussion.
Too busy to comment, but I hope to come back.
nathan_lounge From: nathan_lounge Date: November 28th, 2007 05:28 am (UTC) (Link)
I think you're right on this point.

I've never seen "Behind the Music: That band that's only played a few times at the C-haus".
abmann From: abmann Date: November 28th, 2007 02:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have. They're huge drug users.
nathan_lounge From: nathan_lounge Date: November 28th, 2007 02:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
But how many times have they "rise...only to fall...again...but then they rose again...and then fell...again..."?
abmann From: abmann Date: November 28th, 2007 03:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sounds like cocaine to me.
kittydesade From: kittydesade Date: November 27th, 2007 02:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
The key you are missing is personal perspective. Something that *you* think is crap - may just be genius to someone else.

That's been true of just about everything I've ever written that's gotten published. Everything I think is good gets rejected, a lot of things I think are crap get snapped up by small press magazine editors. I really don't get it.

Regarding the "Publish crap" stuff, I think it's more that you shouldn't be afraid to write/paint/draw/photograph crap. That you shouldn't be afraid to waste creation resources on crap. Publishing it... well, there's two overall ways to publish that I can think of: to a reviewing group of peers or submitting for professional publication. I think that anything you submit for professional publication should be polished and considered (at least by you) to be done. I think, though, that if you're publishing something to a group of peers for peer review you shouldn't be afraid that it's crap, so much.

And then again, I also think that people who enthusiastically fling crap about everywhere to be published or self-publish it... well. There's a monkey analogy there I'm too tired to make.
abmann From: abmann Date: November 27th, 2007 03:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Mmmm... monkey poop.

Where's that point though? Where is the personal editing and when, if I'm to publish crap, does it end? I mean, there has to be a point where all the crap outweighs the good produced.
zesty_pinto From: zesty_pinto Date: November 27th, 2007 03:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
I agree that publishing garbage isn't a good idea, but mainly because publishing is a very competitive field. And do they mean garbage as in "the same old shlock"? Not many people have the opportunity to do it, and those that do tend to be the ones that perpetuate the same trash.

I do agree that feedback is good, but there are more creative avenues to do it. Half the time you publish something that is subpar, people will not even give it the opportunity to offer two cents, let alone two looks.
abmann From: abmann Date: November 27th, 2007 04:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Feedback is good. I think that's certainly pat of the "publish garbage" point, really. If you put it out there you get responses - maybe. And that can be HIGHLY beneficial.

Now, what do you do when you don't get feedback? for example, I think tytoalba is the only persona regularly saying anything about my photos. If that's the point of displaying bad/mediocre work, how do you ensure you get it?
zesty_pinto From: zesty_pinto Date: November 27th, 2007 06:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
I would think of going around those circles where they offer criticism, not unlike that one group you showed in your journal where the person kept complaining about their borders. For a site like Flickr where it's more webhosting and attention tends to get derived from who you network with, I would think a forum for photographers or even that aforementioned LJ group would offer at least something. Just need to make sure that you go to the right group for what you need.
zesty_pinto From: zesty_pinto Date: November 27th, 2007 06:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
-of course, if you're already someone who has a good eye and attention towards the thing in particular, then you would also learn by seeing what works and trying to figure out how; asking people (not unlike how I bug you here and there) who know how to do it helps.
lerite From: lerite Date: November 27th, 2007 04:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
In cases like flickr where there's not an external bar to publishing and costs are low, perhaps a dump account and a separate account for the stuff you actually WANT people to see?

It's fun to go back and see where someone came from, but if you're flipping through early work, most of the people who make crap aren't going to turn into geniuses later, and casual audiences don't want to waste time looking at crap--or spend the time to see where the themes go.
abmann From: abmann Date: November 27th, 2007 05:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's certainly what I'm saying above and don't think i said it especially well. Unless the viewer is engaged, they likely won't care about prior work. Now, if something grabs their attention at any point in the person's career, they be interested in the rest.

Now say that X artist does only publish their "good" work and someone is interested from piece one. If both the crap work and general past works of that artists don't exist, doesn't that change the level of esteem garnered? If you produce high quality work and always high quality work, wouldn't that change how people view them? Aren't they more impressive than the guy that seemingly worked his way up to that caliber?
antarcticlust From: antarcticlust Date: November 27th, 2007 05:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I disagree with that "publish garbage." While yes, feedback is awesome, I wouldn't grow if I only got feedback on the work I knew was less than my best - because it's obviously, well, not my best, and theoretically I would know that without being told. I'm only going to raise the bar if I get feedback on the work that I feel best represents what I can do. And honestly, publishing "crap" is a waste of readers' time - it's not our job to give you feedback. It's disrespectful, and self-indulgent.

There's a big difference between feeling free to PRODUCE a lot of work, and giving yourself wiggle room to make mistakes, or do less than you best...as opposed to then publishing that, as a record to the world of what you believe is worth their time.
alyska From: alyska Date: November 27th, 2007 07:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
there are many strong opinions about this topic... before i read through them, i just feel like i should point out that context matters.

for my photography, from a business perspective, one of the most difficult things i had to learn when presenting work to clients was how to edit myself. i'm not talking censorship, i'm talking about the person paying me having a limited attention span. if i take your headshot, and i take 300 images (an exaggeration) ideally, a client is expecting me to use my professional expertise to edit those 300 images down to, say, a dozen, and then they can pick the final image.

if i went and shot a reception for XYZ company, they don't want all 500 images i shot over three hours, they just want to 30-45 highlights. if they want to see more, they'll ask for it.

from a practical standpoint, editing allows you to better focus your visual style and define yourself to your viewers. show them too much "clutter" and it's harder for them to see the pieces that really stand out.

similarly with my jewelry, i had the creative dilemma of choosing between making pieces i wanted to make, and makign pieces people would buy. eventually, i had to take the risk of not making things "just because they'd sell" because i felt i was compromising my creative style to make an extra buck. my literal "i won't make that because it's ugly" became "i'm sorry, but pieces like that just don't fit with the brand and creative style of my studio." it's marketroid speak for pretty much the same thing. *grins*
nathan_lounge From: nathan_lounge Date: November 28th, 2007 05:26 am (UTC) (Link)
I feel like there's something particularly missing from all of the comments above and maybe it's because I'm not totally in the same "artistic' mindset as people who are commenting or maybe I'm missing the point, but here goes...

In my professional life there is a line below which I will not send a plate or allow a plate to be sent out of my kitchen. Some things that qualify that line are obvious: health concerns, explosive combinations of things, bad food/food that has waited too long to be served. There's also a certain gray area beyond that. For example, the other night I had a "surprise VIP" moment where a waiter came back and asked if I could do a special dessert for his table (they had just finished their main course). I said yes and proceeded to sprint around the kitchen grabbing things without a clear idea of what I was going to produce. I got as far as plating (it was this cakish thing with grilled pears and french merange) looked at it, and told him they would have to wait while I put something else together. It wasn't well plated (read: it looked like total crap), the sauce was breaking, and the flavors had nothing to do with one another. In short, it looked bad and would have at best tasted like generic sweetness. So I didn't send it. That is a very difficult moment in my profession, to draw the line and not send something, especially when there's tramendious "on the spot" pressure to produce and send things out the door.

Now here's a different example. Two weekends ago I was working with a line cook who hadn't been on in a while. Everything he was producing was mediocure at best. Not actively bad, but bland, sloppy, and overall not great food. Certainly below what I would be producing in his place. On the one hand, this is my food and me being represented (in fact, I had to have a talk with my boss regarding negative customer feedback about that very night). On the other hand, there's no way for him to get his edge back without doing it. Over and over again. So I let him go. I let him get deep into the shits before I pulled him out again. Similarly, I'm in the process of training two new line cooks. Both of them suck, as all people who are starting out do. But I believe in them and me to bring them up to snuff.

What I'm getting at in all of this, is that 1) even when you're good, you don't hit the ball out of the park every time you're at plate. In fact, you don't hit it out of the park most times you're at plate. If you achieve superstardom, then people will pretend you do, but then talk about when you don't behind you're back (if you want examples of times that pro-chefs have fucked up, I'm teaming with them...in fact, there are two or three books with nothing but stories about fuck ups in them). 2) In my world, you are under pressure to perform and we are a results oriented business. This might be where I diverge from the crowd here. Maybe if this was my hobby and not my profession it would be different. But I have to put a plate in that window and that supersedes personal aspirations regarding the wealth of that plate. I've seen really quality cooks send out really awful plates in my time because of the pressure to produce. Now walking that line between production and quality control is what makes the greats great, but at the end of the day, 95% of what you produce isn't going to be great but is going to feed someone. And likewise, your greatness might get you a job or get people through the door of your restaurant,, but your standard fare is going to be what puts money in your pocket and clothes your children.

Waiting to hit it out of the park seems to be a luxury that I can't afford.
abmann From: abmann Date: November 28th, 2007 02:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
"...you don't hit it out of the park most times you're at plate. If you achieve superstardom, then people will pretend you do..."

Absolutely! You're right that people will gloss over the bad when you're a superstar. I mean, look at the last decade of Sting's albums.

nathan_lounge From: nathan_lounge Date: November 28th, 2007 02:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh burn!
24 comments or Leave a comment