Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ignore everybody and be creative!

"Work Hard. Keep at it. Live simply and quietly. Remain humble. Stay positive. Be nice. Be polite."
gapingvoid lands a book deal... - this is "how to be creative" summarised in one line
The more original your idea is, the less good advice other people will be able to give you.
How to be creative - Chapter 1 - Ignore everybody
I've been following Hugh MacLeod of Gaping Void since I first got involved in blogging back in 2005. In terms of people who write about how to be creative and how to make both ideas and marketing work in a web 2.0 world I find him to be one of the more insightful - and he has a demonstrable track record of success. Plus his drawings make me smile and sometimes they make me laugh out loud! :)

Hugh's 2004 blog post about How to be creative (HTBC) has been read well over a million times and is also available in pdf form - which has also been downloaded over 19,000 times (figures as at April 2008)

Back in December 2006 I wrote about Hugh on "How to be creative" in which I said I considered it very much a recommended read.

Hugh talks a lot about companies and marketing strategies and his ideas have resonance - which I guess is why he got a book deal with the same people who publish Seth Godin.

They also have the potential to resonate a lot within the art world at large. You just need to consider the concepts and ideas he's talking about and then check out how applicable they are to things you observe and the things you know go on - or at least they do for me! ;)

Every so often I sit down and read a number of Hugh's posts in one sitting and track back and too across his blog in doing so. Some of the latest ones have been to do with the creation of his new book and reviewing what he's written in the past.

The one which triggered this post today is "Good ideas have lonely childhoods". It comes from his review of the idea that starts HTBC which is the injunction to 'ignore everybody'.

Plus this point which came up within that post.
"I want to be part of something! Oh, wait, no I don't!" I've seen this before so many times, both first-hand and with other people. Your idea seems to be working, seems to be getting all sorts of traction, and all of a sudden you got all these swarms of people trying to join the team, wanting to get a piece of the action. And then as as soon as they get a foothold inside the inner circle, you soon realize they don't really understand your idea in the first place, they just want to be on the winning team. And the weirdest bit is, they don't seem to mind sabotaging the original idea that got them interested in the first place, in order to maintain their newfound social status. It's probably the most bizarre bit of human behavior I've ever witnessed first-hand in business, and it's AMAZINGLY common.
"good ideas have lonely childhoods"
For me, that describes almost exactly what I saw happening about two years ago when "daily painting" blogs took off.

At the risk of offending quite a few people, I've never quite been able to understand why people talk about having a daily painting blog if they don't produce a painting every day. THAT was the original idea which captured people's attention. That was what made the blogs which did that actually stand out. Blogs like Duane Keiser's A Painting A Day and Julian Merrow Smith's Postcard from Provence literally did post a painting each day.

Don't get me wrong - I'm very happy with blogs that don't post a painting each day. Lots of the painting blogs that I really like viewing a lot do not post every day. The reason I like them is because of the way they paint - in their own individual and unique way.

What I'm talking about here is having your own idea about how to make art and presenting your own individual and unique appeal in your own unique way - while being prepared for the fact that other people may not actually 'get it' or might even resist your idea. It's about being true to your own way of doing things and delivering the visual equivalent of 'singing in your own voice'.

Other good recent posts from Hugh which are also worth reading include the following:
See any parallels?

An idea for Hugh from me - something which seems to be missing from the original list of tips - "humour often helps".

How come Hugh MacLeod doesn't have an entry on Wikipedia? I just ask.............