Part II – Permission To Suck / Talent Zoo Interview

Tue, Nov 23, 2010

Blogs, Fearless Creativity

Part II – Permission To Suck / Talent Zoo Interview

Six months ago I was asked a series of questions for Talent Zoo by writer Sara Barton, here are some of the questions with my answers.  There are over 20 questions, but I’ll post installments updating where necessary.  Here’s part II.

Do you think that storytelling is a dying art?

Dying? No not at all. I think it’s coming alive. I understand why the virtuoso story teller might say it’s dying; it may be getting sloppier but only because more people are participating. For example: I feel as though there is a part of photography that’s slipping away now that we’re almost fully pixelated. However, maybe that’s a good thing, I don’t know. Maybe it will emphasize the story each photographer has to tell now that basic techniques are democratized with a button push.

Read your Facebook wall. It’s a story of anecdotes that make a community. We’re making video clips and sharing them, we’re posting photos while on vacation; broadcasting a story of the trip. In my opinion it’s the fun in social media. I want to get better at it. Good story telling isn’t going away, it’s becoming more important in my opinion.

How would you describe the state of creativity today?

I’m not sure I can speak for all creatives but, to me, it seems confused yet explosive. It’s like we were given new toys and we’re frantically learning how to play with them, but we’re also not at all sure we’re having fun yet.

We see brilliance happening but it seems a little more accidental at times than it usually does, yes? We’re familiar with learning a skill and applying it in a creative way, but now you might say, “hey, let’s limit the message to 140 characters and give it a silly name”, the idea explodes out of the blue before the idea’s purpose is fully developed.

I’m not saying that it never happened before but I think it feels more haphazard this last decade. There are more people excited about being creative than ever too I think. Like my friend David Burney said in his interview, we’re in a “democratized renaissance” – I love that phrase.

You have said that there’s no such thing as “digital creativity.” Why?

I said that because digital – 1’s and 0’s – are reproductions created for use in machines and not how creativity starts. Humans are analog. I like framing it this way because of the ease with which we can confuse “new” with digital and digital with creativity. I can’t think of anything created that didn’t start analog. Digital is a reproduction that makes it easier, faster and allows for more complex design. Digital makes some previously impossible things possible but I think it’s important to remember that creators are analog; virtuosity is analog.

The distinction hit me when a Scott Ballew (CD Capstrat) told me he instructed young AD’s to abandon the computer when searching ideas. It made perfect sense to start analog; it’s where creativity lives. Once you have the idea, then move on to find the right tool.

How do you define creativity?

I’ll avoid any attempt at a dictionary-ish meaning because I’d fail miserably.

I once wrote these equations down, part in jest because I thought it so silly to apply a formula to creativity, but then I thought – hey – they’re not half bad.

Imagination x Craft x Emotion = Artistic Expression
Imagination x Craft x Function = Innovation

Creativity is life; do I need to get more specific than that? Ok, I think when we say “be creative” we usually mean “be imaginative”. I like to think in those terms; be imaginative. I use the term creativity a lot because it’s what communicates well but it’s a little like saying, “do you believe in God?” – what the hell does that mean anyway? The safest thing is to say, yes – then define God in your own terms. “Be creative” – it’s in you, define it yourself.

Which is more important? Being original? Or being good? Why?

To me I think being good is more important. Here’s why: be good and originality will take care of itself as long as you’re being imaginative. When I say be good, I’m really saying “satisfy you” – and btw – good luck with that! Imagination is intrinsic and being good embodies all you have to offer.

That’s just how I choose to frame it. The moment I concentrate on a being original, I get outside of myself and that isn’t creatively healthy for me. Here’s a twist: Be good but don’t forget to surprise yourself.

I see a lot of trend chasing. When I wrote, “In a quest for originality, don’t forget to be good”, I meant two things. 1) Don’t forget what you know to be good. 2) Don’t chase trends in spite of what you think is good.

Creativity, Story Telling, Virtuosity

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