Sharing and Collective Creativity
This entry may be horribly incongruent & scattered, and I apologize for that. Coffee & stuff. Also typos.
I’ve been thinking a lot about creativity lately. I’ve been thinking about where it comes from, how to stimulate it, how to harness it… all kinds of things. This has led me to reading interesting articles & books, to watching YouTube videos, to drawing, to writing, to creating music. I tend to post a lot of these things I’m doing online. Sharing them with the public as if they should have some kind of interest. Only after reading Austin Kleon’s book, Show Your Work, did I realize that that has somehow become a weird part of my creative process…
Early in the book, Kleon states:
Almost all of the people I look up to and try to steal from today, regardless of their profession, have built sharing into their routine. These people aren’t schmoozing at cocktail parties; they’re too busy for that. They’re cranking away in their studios, their laboratories, or their cubicles, but instead of maintaining absolute secrecy and hoarding their work, they’re open about what they’re working on, and they’re consistently posting bits and pieces of their work, their ideas, and what they’re learning online. Instead of wasting their time “networking,” they’re taking advantage of the network. By generously sharing their ideas and their knowledge, they often gain an audience that they can then leverage when they need it – for fellowship, feedback, or patronage.
Now, reading that alone didn’t bring me to the realization that that’s become part of my routine… That came from two messages I received in social media this week.
The first one was from Twitter. I posted a picture of a letter opener I’d carved from a piece of wood, sanded down, & stained. In essence, a stranger offers to give me some free wood pieces. The second one was from Facebook. Periodically I post limited edition vinyl copies of my album that come with one-of-a-kind hand drawn sleeves. And this guy bought one from me – in the midst of some pretty awesome circumstances…
Ignore the fact that I say “rad” A LOT.
As an artist, musician, blog, whatever… finding and building an audience can be the most difficult part of what you do. You can be amazing. You can be making all the best music, writing all the best songs, creating all the best content, etc… But if no one ever finds it, what good has it done you? NOTE: I’m operating under the assumption that you’re creating these things because you want people to hear/see them and not because you’re a hermit, hoarding all your creations to yourself (something Kleon also addresses in his book).
Make connections. But not by schmoozing and trying to be around the “right people”… waiting for someone to pay attention to you. Instead, by being a participatory member of a scene and nurturing and growing the relationships you do have. I work hard to maintain my relationships with individuals who are like-minded to me and who share similar values. I’ve never believed that creativity comes from the lone-wolf, uber-brilliant genius. It’s a group effort, a collective. And sharing freely opens my output up for criticism, applause, judgement, rejection, and many other reactions. These things feed my creativity. These things make me want to improve. And I’m proud to share the things I create with the collective I have at my fingertips… even if those creations are imperfect, unpolished, great, mediocre, bad, or anywhere inbetween. I’m just glad anyone is paying attention.
I’d love to hear your thoughts/comments below.
Final thoughts: You should read Austin Kleon’s book. If not, you’re only missing out. I’ve been listening to Ryan Adams & The Cardinals’ Jacksonville City Nights non-stop for two days now. It’s my favorite record of all time. Yep. All time. If you’ve never heard it, look it up. Lots of texture, lots of steel, lots of feelings.
I hope you have a killer week.