Sunday, February 24, 2013

Poodle Style.

Winter Whites.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Great Artists Steal

I'm lazy enough that instead of properly blogging, I'm going to share an essay I wrote for homework. Ya'll don't even get anything of your own. But you know what? Nothing is original, so it wouldn't matter if I wrote something new for you guys. But I hope ya love it. Pretty proud of my hour paper. And as an artist, the research was pretty bloody interesting, and I totally saw myself in it. Read this like the good dears you are, and then go look up Everything is a Remix. And look up Austin Kleon, too. And then look up whatever the crap you want. And then create something from alla that. Okay? Cause great artists steal.
xoxo gossip girrrrl.

Great Artists Steal
                Heist films, I recently learned in a cinema class, are about artists and the creative process. It’s fitting, then, that the objective is to steal. Fitting, also, the amount of work that goes into the grand theft. As Kirby Ferguson, creator of the video series Everything is a Remix, reminds us, “Creativity isn’t magic. It happens by applying ordinary tools of thought to existing materials.” In order to create, it’s imperative we steal. Wendy McNaughton, an artist based in San Francisco, claims that, “I rip off everyone I meet.” All artists should.
                The artist is a selective collector.  Think of mood boards– a collection of images and objects that inspire an artist or designer. To be inspired by something is nothing more than stealing that thing and transforming it.  Austin Kleon, author of Steal Like An Artist, tells a story of just having graduated and being held in the dreaded throes of writer’s block. He looked to his right at the recycling bin, filled with newspapers, and thought, “Here I am without any words, and right next to me are thousands of them.” He lifted words he liked straight from the newspapers, and used them to create something beautiful. When attacked for being a copy –another artist had done something similar - Kleon looked into it. He found that said artist had been influenced by a friend, who had been influenced by a writer, who had been influenced by another friend – going back 250 years. “Nothing is original.” Kleon admonishes.
                We want to be unique – it’s in our nature as humans, and as artists, even more so. We balk at the idea that everything is a remix, when we shouldn’t. Rather than wait for inspiration to descend from above, artists have a responsibility to hunt it down. Ideas aren’t tidy, and a good artist is simply a good thief.  If, as in a heist film, you cleanly lift an idea from the safe, you have taken the first important step. The crucial thing is to do something beautiful with the theft. A good thief studies, transforms, and ultimately honors the original material. Igor Stravinsky, the famous composer, once wrote a work that was essentially a remix of the classics. Critics were outraged. “Leave the classics alone!” They cried. Stravinsky allegedly replied, “You respect, but I love.”
                Steve Jobs believed that “it comes down to trying to expose yourself to the best things that humans have done.” A good artist is not a kleptomaniac, stealing from whatever, wherever. A good artist is like a magpie, going after only the shiny, only the transcendent.  We mustn’t be afraid to be derivative. “In an open source world, it’s the idea – rather than the creator – that really matters,” Liz Jacobs of the TED Talks blog says. And in the ironic vein of lifting from the safe in my attempt to create, this quote, attributed to Jean-Luc Godard, is central to the point: “It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”
                Ferguson and Kleon are right. Everything is a remix. Nothing is original. And everything that has ever changed a life or the world came from someone who stole and transformed the ideas of someone else, who was inspired by yet another person. As Isaac Newton said, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Newton himself modified that phrase from Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy, and Burton was simply refashioning the words of the 12th Century intellectual Bernard de Chartres. If Newton was not above standing on the shoulders of giants, we cannot, in good sense, be above a grand heist.
Or if you have like zero time, someone made this helpful lil shortcut. Love you guys or something?