Sunday, 2 September 2012

Make good art

" 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

It's an important conversation, this one we are all having about blogging (and the current addition to your cyber real estate, your blog).  The 'whys' and 'why nots' and the 'shoulds' and when and hows? The what is it for?  It's a worthy thing to discuss, especially since it involves all of you and the integrity of your creative lives, here and beyond UWCSEA. From academic to authentic--is that a point A to point B thing or just an X marks the spot situation because both actually exist in the same online space?  
Don't look at me, my opinion on it changes everyday.  

Anyway, that's why it's great we are having the discussion (at the table and beyond) and that you are part of it because ultimately, after all that's been said and done, you get to decide what the blogosphere can and will mean to you.  What you invest in terms of sharing, writing, collaborating, questioning, creating, commenting, critiquing and appreciating will determine the wealth and health of this online space, which will impact your digital footprint.

You live here now. Or part of you does. In this capacity (whatever that means). What will you do to make the most out of it?  What will you need to unlearn so you maximize its potential?  How will your definition of  your blog and blogging in general change so you can negotiate what it can mean to you?  How will your use of it best reflect your truth/s? your identity?  How will your engagement in building this learning community be a beacon burning bright and not a dim light flickering in the distance?  How will you extend, enhance, and expand what we are discovering and learning together already? What questions will you ask?  What will you throw in the mix of this unpredictable marinade of creation and collaboration? What will you say? AND how can I best guide you and help your voice develop, evolve, grow?  How can I teach you to be bold and to share what's important and authentic and sincere?

Boy, am I excited to find out the responses to those questions.

Because as much as I love having this conversation about blogging, it really is so much than that.  I can't wait for you to experience what I mean. Thanks for being open from the get go and for trusting us when we say, that blogging and being connected individuals allow us to trust, affirm our convictions, strengthen our voice, help us as creators, and build and grow communities.

Finally,  let me end this post with something new and then old;  a video (Neil Gaiman) and a poem by Herman Melville.

Last May, Neil Gaiman gave the keynote address to the graduating class of 2012 at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. His candid and practical advice to the graduates really inspired me and I want to share that with you today.  I know it'll be years before you have to listen to a university commencement speech  but I like to always begin with the end in mind.  No need to wait until then to heed his sound advice, right.  Here goes...

My favorite quotes from his speech...
 "...while you are 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."
"We're in a transitional world right now, if you're in any kind of artistic field, because the nature of distribution is changing, the models by which creators got their work out into the world, and got to keep a roof over their heads and buy sandwiches while they did that, are all changing. The distribution channels that people had built over the last century or so are in flux for print, for visual artists, for musicians, for creative people of all kinds.
Which is, on the one hand, intimidating, and on the other, immensely liberating. The rules, the assumptions, the now-we're supposed to's of how you get your work seen, and what you do then, are breaking down. The gatekeepers are leaving their gates. You can be as creative as you need to be to get your work seen. YouTube and the web (and whatever comes after YouTube and the web) can give you more people watching than television ever did. The old rules are crumbling and nobody knows what the new rules are.
So make up your own rules."
And for Melville's poem ... 

In placid hours well-pleased we dream
Of many a brave unbodied scheme.
But form to lend, pulsed life create,
What unlike things must meet and mate:
A flame to melt—a wind to freeze;
Sad patience—joyous energies;
Humility—yet pride and scorn;
Instinct and study; love and hate;
Audacity—reverence. These must mate,
And fuse with Jacob’s mystic heart,
To wrestle with the angel—Art.
Source: American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century (The Library of America, 1993)

So here's to making good art!  What will yours look like? What will you wrestle with? How will you use your blog to develop, share, create your art the way only you know how?    


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I like the poem on this post as it makes me feel majestic and the words make me move as I read on. It takes me on the journey of art, a very thoughtful poem ... I love it! :)

  3. i really like the picture, especially the name, the students are the storm and the silence is priceless

  4. I liked your quote at the top of your page (" 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 enjoyed reading about Neil Gaiman. : )

  5. I like the quote on the top of the blog post because it encourages people to do things and it is very thoughtful. It is really nice

  6. I think that the background of the forks and spoons was a very creative photo just as a little quirk that does not matter about the blog. I love the poem because I thought it had a lot of meaning in it.

  7. This is so useful. The practical knowledge here is much better than all that academic/theoretical stuff I have read about on other blogs. I appreciate Neil Gaiman’s speech, it gives me an idea of how much freedom and boundaries I have. Blogging is amazing to push anyone’s creativity and Gaiman’s speech tells us that we should not be under stress while designing it thinking everyone will read it but let the art flow freely and make it unique to you. I especially liked “Do what only you can do best. Make good art.” He also says its good to make mistakes and copy. ‘Most of us only find our own voices after we have 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.’