Posts Tagged ‘art’

Here’s something to my liking: film director Michael Haneke commenting on his way of film making:

My films are intended as polemical statements against the American ‘barrel down’ cinema and its disempowerment of the spectator. They are an appeal for a cinema of insistent question instead of false answers; for clarifying distance in place of violating closeness; for provocation of dialogue instead of consumption of consensus.

That’s a refreshing approach to film making, one that provokes critical thought and active engagement with the content of the film. It makes intelligence grow rather than shrivel away into into stupidity and ignorance.

Michael Haneke (born 23 March 1942) is an Austrian filmmaker and writer best known for his bleak and disturbing style. His films often document problems and failures in modern society. Haneke has worked in television‚ theatre and cinema. He is also known for raising social issues in his work.[1] Besides working as filmmaker he also teaches directing at the Filmacademy Vienna.

At the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, his film The White Ribbon won the Palme d’Or for best film, and at the 67th Golden Globe Awards the film won the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film. He has made films in French, German and English.

His films include Benny’s Video (1992), The Piano Teacher (2002) which won the Grand Prix (Cannes Film Festival), Caché (2005) (Hidden) which was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival and The White Ribbon (2009) which won the Palme d’Or at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival[8] and 2010 the Golden Globe in the category “Best Foreign Language Film”.

I should check Kickstarter more often. In March Polly M. Law successfully  raised money to self-publish her book called “The Word Project: Odd & Obscure Words” (see partial list below). The endeavour began life as an email folder full of wonderful words that had come into her inbox via Anu Garg’s “A Word A Day” service. Polly had deleted about half of the words outright because she already knew them; then about half of the remainder because they just weren’t that interesting. But the words she did keep were delightful, quirky and expanded her world. And in 2002 she got the idea to illustrate the words with her whimsical paper-doll bricolage art. The Word Project was born. The book now is available on Amazon.

Sample page

For those with a love for words, a partial Word Project word list

Agelast: (n) a person who never laughs
Airgonaut:(n) one who journeys through the air
Albediniety:(n) whiteness
Amaranthine: (adj) of a deep purple-red color
Amaritude: (n) bitterness
Aporia: (n) an expression of doubt
Assoil: (v) to atone or to pardon
Bajulate:(v) to bear a heavy burden
Brumal: (adj) pertaining to winter
Burbles: (n)(obs) tingly pimples
Canitude: (n) hoariness, whiteness
Clancular: (adj) clandestine, secret
Colting: (v) romping in an unseemly manner- said of a woman
Corybantic: (adj) frenzied
Cosmogyral: (adj) whirling around the universe
Crotchet: (n) an odd notion or quirk; a quarter note
Cruciverbalist: (n) crossword-puzzle constructor
Cumsloosh: (n) flatterer- English regional
Cuncator: (n) procrastinator
Dasypygal: (adj) having hairy buttocks
Delitescent: (adj) hidden, latent
Deracinate: (v) uproot, remove from base
Dinomania: (n) irresistable urge to dance
Dragoman: (n) a guide or interpreter
Duende: (n) a dæmon, a spirit of inspiration- from Spanish
Entheate: (adj) possessed by a holy spirit or god
Empennage: (n) tailfeathers; the rear assemblage of an airplane
Empyreal: (adj) celestial, elevated
Eudemonia: (n) state of being happy
Fainéant: (n) an idler; (adj) idle
Fantod: (n) the willies, a state of nervous anxiety
Fardel: (n) a burden or bundle divided into two parts to facilitate carriage; also a small quantity of valueless items
Fastuous: (adj) arrogant, pretentious
Feretory: (n) portable shrine or reliquary
Festucine: (adj) straw-colored
Fetor: (n) stench
Fogram: (n) a person with very old-fashioned or conservative ideas
Frampold: (adj) vexatious, tenaciously argumentative, quarrelsome
Furphy: (n) gossip or rumor
Gawmless: (adj) having hands so cold that they’ve lost their function
Gormless: (adj) dull, stupid
Gridelin: (n) violet-grey
Gumifiate: (v) to cause to swell
Guttle: (v) eat voraciously
Habroneme: (adj) having the appearance of fine threads
Ianthine: (adj) of the color of violets
Iracund: (adj) prone to anger
Kexy: (adj) brittle, withered, dry
Koumpounophobia: (n) fear of buttons
Lissotrichus: (adj) having smooth, straight hair
Loricate: (adj) protected by scaly armor
Lucubrate: (v) to work by lamplight
Medioxumate: (n) mid-level god, existing between heaven & hell
Melanochalcographer: (n) engraver of copper printing plates
Mooncalf: (n) a dreamer or a person with a congenital deformity
Muliebrity: (n) femininity
Murfles: (n)(obs) freckles
Murklins: (adj) in the dark
Napiform: (adj) turnip-shaped
Niddering: (n) coward
Nidifice: (n) nest
Niggle: (n) a scribble or scrawl
Niminy-Piminy: (adj) affectedly delicate
Nitid: (adj) shiny, glossy
Nubivagant: (adj) moving amongst clouds
Numen: (n) spirit of place
Obrumpent: (adj) bursting
Orihon: (n) an accordian-fold book- from Japanese
Osculate: (v) to kiss
Oxter: (n) armpit
Pedology: (n) the study of soils
Pomarious: (adj) regarding orchards
Potichomania: (n) the craze for imitating Oriental porcelain
Pollex: (n) thumb
Pudency: (n) shame-based modesty
Rebarbative: (adj) repellent
Saltant: (adj) leaping, dancing
Senticous: (adj) thorny, prickly
Sinapistic: (adj) made of mustard
Slimikin: (adj) small and slender
Smaregdine: (adj) composed of, or of the color of emeralds
Strepitant: (adj) boisterous, loud
Strigiform: (adj) shaped like an owl
Struthiform: (adj) shaped like an ostrich
Swivet: (n) a state of anxiety; used in the phrase “to be in a swivet”
Thersitical: (adj) foul-mouthed
Throttlebottom: (n) a purposeless incompetent in political office
Unked: (adj) lonely
Ventripotent: (adj) having a large belly
Vinculum: (n) a join or bond
Wambles: (n) shaky walking due to nausea; nausea
Welmish: (adj) of a pale or sickly color
Wowser: (n) a killjoy, a puritan

Sexy ad

Posted: April 26, 2011 in humour
Tags: ,

Someone most likely turned this image upside down, but it made me think about the stir it would cause if it would become an ad – it certainly would expose intolerance levels in our society, even in highly urbanised environments. And I can already see the Christian armies uniting for a crusade :D.

There are of course always areas of enlightenment; thinking of Sydney, I could imagine that a billboard or two might do well in Newtown or Erskineville. You’d need a daring beer brand though, which might be hard to find in a country where beer seems to be associated with tough, footie loving, homophobic males.

This is a brilliant little succinct inspirational piece by Austin Kleon on how to be successfully creative. Nicely done artistically and full of good idea that sometimes sound slightly provocative but actually are simply smart.

how to steal like an artist and 9 other things nobody told me

Note: This is a slightly edited version of a talk I gave yesterday at Broome Community College in Binghamton, New York. It’s a simple list of 10 things I wish I’d heard when I was in college.


all advice is autobiographical ymmv

All advice is autobiographical.

It’s one of my theories that when people give you advice, they’re really just talking to themselves in the past. This list is me talking to a previous version of myself.

Your mileage may vary.

Steal like an artist

1. Steal like an artist.

Every artist gets asked the question, “Where do you get your ideas?”

The honest artist answers, “I steal them.”

Figure out what's worth stealing. Move on to the next thing.

I drew this cartoon a few years ago. There are two panels. Figure out what’s worth stealing. Move on to the next thing.

That’s about all there is to it.

Here’s what artists understand. It’s a three-word sentence that fills me with hope every time I read it:

Nothing is original.

It says it right there in the Bible. Ecclesiastes:

That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun.

Every new idea is just a mashup or a remix of previous ideas.

1 + 1 = 3

Here’s a trick they teach you in art school. Draw two parallel lines on a piece of paper:

parallel lines

How many lines are there? There’s the first line, the second line, but then there’s a line of negative space that runs between them. See it?

1 + 1 = 3.


Speaking of lines, here’s a good example of what I’m talking about: genetics. You have a mother and you have a father. You possess features from both of them, but the sum of you is bigger than their parts. You’re a remix of your mom and dad and all of your ancestors.

The genealogy of ideas

You don’t get to pick your family, but you can pick your teachers and you can pick your friends and you can pick the music you listen to and you can pick the books you read and you can pick the movies you see.

Jay-Z Decoded

Jay-Z talks about this in his book, Decoded:

We were kids without fathers…so we found our fathers on wax and on the streets and in history, and in a way, that was a gift. We got to pick and choose the ancestors who would inspire the world we were going to make for ourselves…Our fathers were gone, usually because they just bounced, but we took their old records and used them to build something fresh.

You are, in fact, a mashup of what you choose to let into your life. You are the sum of your influences. The German writer Goethe said, “We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.”

artist is a collector

An artist is a collector. Not a hoarder, mind you, there’s a difference: hoarders collect indiscriminately, the artist collects selectively. They only collect things that they really love.

There’s an economic theory out there that if you take the incomes of your five closest friends and average them, the resulting number will be pretty close to your own income.

I think the same thing is true of our idea incomes. You’re only going to be as good as the stuff you surround yourself with.

garbage in and garbage out

My mom used to say to me, “Garbage in, garbage out.”

It used to drive me nuts. But now I know what she means.

Your job is to collect ideas. The best way to collect ideas is to read. Read, read, read, read, read. Read the newspaper. Read the weather. Read the signs on the road. Read the faces of strangers. The more you read, the more you can choose to be influenced by.

family tree of writers

Identify one writer you really love. Find everything they’ve ever written. Then find out what they read. And read all of that. Climb up your own family tree of writers.

Steal things and save them for later. Carry around a sketchpad. Write in your books. Tear things out of magazines and collage them in your scrapbook.

Steal like an artist.

Don’t wait until you know who you are to start making things

2. Don’t wait until you know who you are to start making things.

There was a video going around the internet last year of Rainn Wilson, the guy who plays Dwight on The Office. He was talking about creative block, and he said this thing that drove me nuts, because I feel like it’s a license for so many people to put off making things: “If you don’t know who you are or what you’re about or what you believe in it’s really pretty impossible to be creative.”

If I waited to know “who I was” or “what I was about” before I started “being creative”, well, I’d still be sitting around trying to figure myself out instead of making things. In my experience, it’s in the act of making things that we figure out who we are.

Make things: know thyself

You’re ready. Start making stuff.

You might be scared. That’s natural.

There’s this very real thing that runs rampant in educated people. It’s called imposter syndrome. The clinical definition is a “psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments.” It means that you feel like a phony, like you’re just winging it, that you really don’t have any idea what you’re doing.

Guess what?

None of us do. I had no idea what I was doing when I started blacking out newspaper columns. All I knew was that it felt good. It didn’t feel like work. It felt like play.

Ask any real artist, and they’ll tell you the truth: they don’t know where the good stuff comes from. They just show up to do their thing. Every day.

Have you ever heard of dramaturgy? It’s a fancy sociological term for something this guy in England said about 400 years ago:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts…

Another way to say this:

fake it til you make it

I love this phrase. There’s two ways to read it: Fake it ‘til you make it, as in, fake it until you’re successful, until everybody sees you the way you want, etc. Or, fake it til’ you make it, as in, pretend to be making something until you actually make something. I love that idea.

Just Kids

I also love the book Just Kids by Patti Smith. I love it because it’s a story about how two friends moved to New York and learned to be artists. You know how they learned to be artists? They pretended to be artists. I’ll spoil the book for you and describe my favorite scene, the turning scene in the book: Patti Smith and her friend Robert Maplethorpe dress up in all their gypsy gear and they go to Washington Square, where everybody’s hanging out, and this old couple kind of gawks at them, and the woman says to her husband, “Oh, take their picture. I think they’re artists.” “Oh, go on,” he shrugged. “They’re just kids.”

The point is: all the world’s a stage. You need a stage and you need a costume and you need a script. The stage is your workspace. It can be a studio, a desk, or a sketchbook. The costume is your outfit, your painting pants, or your writing slippers, or your funny hat that gives you ideas. The script is just plain old time. An hour here, or an hour there. A script for a play is just time measured out for things to happen.

Fake it ’til you make it.

write the book you want to read

3. Write the book you want to read.

Quick story:

Jurassic Park came out on my 10th birthday. I loved it. I was kind of obsessed with it. I mean, what 10-year-old wasn’t obsessed with that movie? The minute I left my little small-town theater, I was dying for a sequel.

I sat down the next day at our old green-screen PC and typed out a sequel. In my treatment, the son of the game warden eaten by velociraptors goes back to the island with the granddaughter of the guy who built the park. See, one wants to destroy the rest of the park, the other wants to save it. Of course, they fall in love and adventures ensue.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I was writing what we now call fan fiction—fictional stories based on characters that already exist.

10-year-old me saved the story to the hard drive.

Then, a few years later, Jurassic Park 2 came out.

And it sucked.

The sequel *always* sucks compared to the sequel in our heads.

write what you like

The question every young writer asks is: “What should I write?”

And the cliched answer is, “Write what you know.”

This advice always leads to terrible stories in which nothing interesting happens.

The best advice is not to write what you know, it’s write what you *like*.

Write the kind of story you like best.

We make art because we like art.

All fiction, in fact, is fan fiction.

The best way to find the work you should be doing is to think about the work you want to see done that isn’t being done, and then go do it.

Draw the art you want to see, make the music you want to hear, write the books you want to read.

Use your hands

4. Use your hands.

My favorite cartoonist, Lynda Barry, she has this saying: “In the digital age, don’t forget to use your digits! Your hands are the original digital devices.”

When I was in creative writing workshops in college, all manuscripts had to be in double-spaced, Times New Roman font. And my stuff was just terrible. It wasn’t until I started making writing with my hands that writing became fun and my work started to improve.

The more I stay away from the computer, the better my ideas get. Microsoft Word is my enemy. I use it all the time at work. I try to stay away from it the rest of my life.

I think the more that writing is made into a physical process, the better it is. You can feel the ink on paper. You can spread writing all over your desk and sort through it. You can lay it all out where you can look at it.

People ask me why I don’t develop an iPhone or iPad Newspaper Blackout app, and I tell them  because I think there is magic in feeling the newsprint in your hand and the words disappearing under that marker line. A lot of your senses are engaged–even the smell of the fumes add to the experience.

Elvis dancing

Art that only comes from the head isn’t any good. Watch any good musician and you’ll see what I mean.

When I’m making the poems, it doesn’t feel like work. It feels like play.

So my advice is to find a way to bring your body into your work. Draw on the walls. Stand up when you’re working. Spread things around the table.

Use your hands.

Side projects and hobbies are important

5. Side projects and hobbies are important.

Speaking of play — one thing I’ve learned in my brief tenure as an artist: it’s the side projects that blow up.

By side projects I mean the stuff that you thought was just messing around. Stuff that’s just play. That’s actually the good stuff. That’s when the magic happens.

The blackout poems were a side project. Had I been focused only on my goal of writing short fiction, had I not allowed myself the room to experiment, I’d never be where I am now.

Guitar Center

It’s also important to have a hobby. Something that’s just for you. Music is my hobby. (That’s me at Guitar Center.)

While my art is for the world to see, music is for me and my friends. We get together every Sunday and make noise for a couple of hours. It’s wonderful.

So the lesson is: take time to mess around. Have a hobby. It’s good for you, and you never know where it may lead you…

The secret: do good work and put it where people can see it

6. The secret: do good work and put it where people can see it.

I get a lot of e-mails from young artists who ask how they can find an audience. “How do I get discovered?”

I sympathize with them. There was a kind of fallout that happened when I left college. The classroom is a wonderful, if artificial place: your professor gets paid to pay attention to your ideas, and your classmates are paying to pay attention to your ideas.

Never in your life will you have such a captive audience.

Soon after, you learn that most of the world doesn’t necessarily care about what you think. It sounds harsh, but it’s true. As Steven Pressfield said, “It’s not that people are mean or cruel, they’re just busy.”

If there was a secret formula for getting an audience, or gaining a following, I would give it to you. But there’s only one not-so-secret formula that I know: “Do good work and put it where people can see it.”

It’s a two step process.

Step one, “do good work,” is incredibly hard. There are no shortcuts. Make stuff every day. Fail. Get better.

Step two, “put it where people can see it,” was really hard up until about 10 years ago. Now, it’s very simple: “put your stuff on the internet.”

I tell people this, and then they ask me, “What’s the secret of the internet?”

Wonder at something. Invite others to wonder with you.

Step 1: Wonder at something. Step 2: Invite others to wonder with you.

You should wonder at the things nobody else is wondering about. If everybody’s wondering about apples, go wonder about oranges.

One of the things I’ve learned as an artist is that the more open you are about sharing your passions, the more people love your art.

Artists aren’t magicians. There’s no penalty for revealing your secrets.

Bob Ross and Martha Stewart

Believe it or not, I get a lot of inspiration from people like Bob Ross and Martha Stewart. Bob Ross taught people how to paint. He gave his secrets away. Martha Stewart teaches you how to make your house and your life awesome. She gives her secrets away.

People love it when you give your secrets away, and sometimes, if you’re smart about it, they’ll reward you by buying the things you’re selling.

When you open up your process and invite people in, you learn. I’ve learned so much from the folks who submit poems to the Newspaper Blackout site. I find a lot of things to steal, too. It benefits me as much as it does them.

So my advice: learn to code. Figure out how to make a website. Figure out blogging. Figure out Twitter and all that other stuff. Find people on the internet who love the same things as you and connect with them. Share things with them.

Geography is no longer our master.

7. Geography is no longer our master.

I’m so glad I’m alive right now.

cornfield in souther ohio

I grew up in the middle of a cornfield in Southern Ohio. When I was a kid, all I wanted to do was hang out with artists. All I wanted to do was get the heck out of southern Ohio and get someplace where something was happening.

Now I live in Austin, Texas. A pretty hip place. Tons of artists and creative types everywhere.

And you know what? I’d say that 90% of my mentors and peers don’t live in Austin, Texas. They live on the internet.

Which is to say, most of my thinking and talking and art-related fellowship is online.

Instead of a geographical art scene, I have Twitter buddies and Google Reader.

Life is weird.

Be nice. The world is a small town.

8. Be nice. The world is a small town.

I’ll keep this short. There’s only one reason I’m here. I’m here to make friends.

Kurt Vonnegut said it best: “There’s only one rule I know of: goddamn it, you’ve got to be kind.”

The golden rule is even more golden in our hyper-connected world.

An important lesson to learn: if you talk about someone on the internet, they will find out. Everybody has a Google alert on their name.

The best way to vanquish your enemies on the internet? Ignore them.

The best way to make friends on the internet? Say nice things about them.

Be boring. It’s the only way to get work done

9. Be boring. It’s the only way to get work done.

As Flaubert said, “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

I’m a boring guy with a 9-5 job who lives in a quiet neighborhood with his wife and his dog.

That whole romantic image of the bohemian artist doing drugs and running around and sleeping with everyone is played out. It’s for the superhuman and the people who want to die young.

The thing is: art takes a lot of energy to make. You don’t have that energy if you waste it on other stuff.

Some things that have worked for me:

Take care of yourself.

Eat breakfast, do some pushups, get some sleep. Remember what I said earlier about good art coming from the body?

Stay out of debt.

Live on the cheap. Pinch pennies. Freedom from monetary stress means freedom in your art.

Get a day job and keep it.

A day job gives you money, a connection to the world, and a routine. Parkinson’s law: work expands to fill the time allotted. I work a 9-5 and I get about as as much art done now as I did when I worked part-time.

Get yourself a calendar. (And a logbook.)

You need a chart of future events, and you need a chart of past events.

Art is all about the slow accumulation over time. Writing a page one day doesn’t seem like much. Do it for 365 days and you have a big novel.

A calendar helps you plan work. This is the calendar I used for my book:


A calendar gives you concrete goals, keeps you on track,  and the nice reward of crossing things off and watching the boxes fill up.

Any goal you want to accomplish: get yourself a calendar. Break the task down into little bits of time. Make it a game.


For past events, I suggest a logbook. It’s not a regular journal, it’s just a little book in which you list the things you do every day. You’d be amazed at how helpful having a daily record like this can be, especially over several years.

Marry well.

It’s the most important decision you’ll ever make.

And marry well doesn’t just mean your life partner — it also means who you do business with, who you befriend, who you choose to be around.

creativity is subtraction

10. Creativity is subtraction.

It’s often what an artist chooses to leave out that makes the art interesting. What isn’t shown vs. what is.

In this age of information overload and abundance, those who get ahead will be the folks who figure out what to leave out, so they can concentrate on what’s important to them.

Devoting yourself to something means shutting out other things.

What makes you interesting isn’t just what you’ve experienced, but also what you haven’t experienced.

The same is true when you make art: you must embrace your limitations and keep moving.

Creativity isn’t just the things we chose to put in, it’s also the things we chose to leave out. Or black out.

And that’s all I think I have.

Thanks, y’all.

Check out Austin Kleon’s blog.

Sifting through some of my mail after what seems to be quite a long holiday, I found this amusing image. While it first conjured up images of Riders On The Storm, the journey into the apocalypse proved to be the same dead-end like notions of a holy rod of peace.

While Friede Sei Mit Dir translates to May Peace Be With You, Friede is unfortunately also the first name of Friede Springer, publisher of Germany’s biggest and right-wing tabloid Die Bildzeitung. And the relief above  decorates the eastern wall of the Rudi-Dutschke-Haus, which happens to be the main office of Germany’s largest left-leaning newspaper Die Tageszeitung.

The artwork by sculptor Peter Lenk is a satirical statement on the trashy headlines and content the tabloid produces to sell its irrelevant news to the masses (like “First goal kicked with penis”, “Emasculated by mother in law’s dachshund” or “Now everyone can use the word ‘dick'”). The guy with the dick is Kai Diekmann, chief editor of Die Bildzeitung, while the reference to his male organ does not only relate to the trash he produces but also provides a link to a Bildzeitung’s-style satire in Die Tageszeitung, which imputed to Diekmann that he was subject a penis extension gone wrong ;).

There’s much more to this story, including court procedures and internal fights in Die Tageszeitung over the artwork’s installation – quite funny really, especially considering how seriously many Germans took the whole issue of installing the artwork. For those understanding German, here’s a link for further informative amusement.

Banksy, of course

Posted: February 5, 2011 in creativity

It’s been years that I’ve posted something of Banksy’s work; stumbling across some of his stuff today though, I couldn’t resist – I just love his subtle satirical style :). There’s more at Best Bookmarks!

Upringing in Modern Life

Posted: December 26, 2010 in creativity
Tags: ,

Modern Life (Wooster Collective)

“Known to its creators and participating artists as the Underbelly Project, the space, where all the show’s artworks remain, defies every norm of the gallery scene. Collectors can’t buy the art. The public can’t see it. And the only people with a chance of stumbling across it are the urban explorers who prowl the city’s hidden infrastructure or employees of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.”

The abandoned and unfinished station

Zigzag flag by Faile in the abandoned subway station

The dining table is an installation by Jeff Stark

Damon Ginandes, a New York artist, putting the finishing touches on his painting

All images New York Times – go there too to read the fascinating whole story. Via Streetkonekt.

[Music by Air: La Femme d’Argent]

Iranian Grafitti

Posted: December 26, 2010 in creativity
Tags: , ,

Some awesome Iranian street art on this Flickr site – makes you wonder how much worse the Mullahs’ attitude is to this kind of street art than the already bad one here in the West …