August 22, 2004

ignore everybody


[BIG NEWS: My new book, "Ignore Everybody"was launched June 11th, 2009. You can find out more details here, and you can order the book here:


Barnes & Noble.


800-CEO-READ. (great for bulk buys)

IndieBound. [to find an independent store]


So you want to be more creative, in art, in business, whatever. Here are some tips that have worked for me over the years.]

1. Ignore everybody.

2. The idea doesn't have to be big. It just has to be yours.

3. Put the hours in.

4. If your biz plan depends on you suddenly being "discovered" by some big shot, your plan will probably fail.

5. You are responsible for your own experience.

6. Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten.

7. Keep your day job.

8. Companies that squelch creativity can no longer compete with companies that champion creativity.

9. Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.

10. The more talented somebody is, the less they need the props.

11. Don't try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether.

12. If you accept the pain, it cannot hurt you.

13. Never compare your inside with somebody else's outside.

14. Dying young is overrated.

15. The most important thing a creative person can learn professionally is where to draw the red line that separates what you are willing to do, and what you are not.

16. The world is changing.

17. Merit can be bought. Passion can't.

18. Avoid the Watercooler Gang.

19. Sing in your own voice.

20. The choice of media is irrelevant.

21. Selling out is harder than it looks.

22. Nobody cares. Do it for yourself.

23. Worrying about "Commercial vs. Artistic" is a complete waste of time.

24. Don�t worry about finding inspiration. It comes eventually.

25. You have to find your own schtick.

26. Write from the heart.

27. The best way to get approval is not to need it.

28. Power is never given. Power is taken.

29. Whatever choice you make, The Devil gets his due eventually.

30. The hardest part of being creative is getting used to it.

31. Remain frugal.

32. Allow your work to age with you.

33. Being Poor Sucks.

34. Beware of turning hobbies into jobs.

35. Savor obscurity while it lasts.

36. Start blogging.

37. Meaning Scales, People Don't.

37. When your dreams become reality, they are no longer your dreams.



1. Ignore everybody.

The more original your idea is, the less good advice other people will be able to give you. When I first started with the cartoon-on-back-of-bizcard format, people thought I was nuts. Why wasn't I trying to do something more easy for markets to digest i.e. cutey-pie greeting cards or whatever?
You don't know if your idea is any good the moment it's created. Neither does anyone else. The most you can hope for is a strong gut feeling that it is. And trusting your feelings is not as easy as the optimists say it is. There's a reason why feelings scare us.

And asking close friends never works quite as well as you hope, either. It's not that they deliberately want to be unhelpful. It's just they don't know your world one millionth as well as you know your world, no matter how hard they try, no matter how hard you try to explain.

Plus a big idea will change you. Your friends may love you, but they don't want you to change. If you change, then their dynamic with you also changes. They like things the way they are, that's how they love you- the way you are, not the way you may become.

Ergo, they have no incentive to see you change. And they will be resistant to anything that catalyzes it. That's human nature. And you would do the same, if the shoe was on the other foot.

With business colleagues it's even worse. They're used to dealing with you in a certain way. They're used to having a certain level of control over the relationship. And they want whatever makes them more prosperous. Sure, they might prefer it if you prosper as well, but that's not their top priority.

If your idea is so good that it changes your dynamic enough to where you need them less, or God forbid, THE MARKET needs them less, then they're going to resist your idea every chance they can.

Again, that's human nature.


Good ideas come with a heavy burden. Which is why so few people have them. So few people can handle it.


2. The idea doesn't have to be big. It just has to be yours.

The sovereignty you have over your work will inspire far more people than the actual content ever will.
We all spend a lot of time being impressed by folk we've never met. Somebody featured in the media who's got a big company, a big product, a big movie, a big bestseller. Whatever.

And we spend even more time trying unsuccessfully to keep up with them. Trying to start up our own companies, our own products, our own film projects, books and whatnot.

I'm as guilty as anyone. I tried lots of different things over the years, trying desperately to pry my career out of the jaws of mediocrity. Some to do with business, some to do with art etc.

One evening, after one false start too many, I just gave up. Sitting at a bar, feeling a bit burned out by work and life in general, I just started drawing on the back of business cards for no reason. I didn't really need a reason. I just did it because it was there, because it amused me in a kind of random, arbitrary way.

Of course it was stupid. Of course it was uncommercial. Of course it wasn't going to go anywhere. Of course it was a complete and utter waste of time. But in retrospect, it was this built-in futility that gave it its edge. Because it was the exact opposite of all the "Big Plans" my peers and I were used to making. It was so liberating not to have to be thinking about all that, for a change.

It was so liberating to be doing something that didn't have to impress anybody, for a change.

It was so liberating to be doing something that didn't have to have some sort of commercial angle, for a change.

It was so liberating to have something that belonged just to me and no one else, for a change.

It was so liberating to feel complete sovereignty, for a change. To feel complete freedom, for a change.

And of course, it was then, and only then, that the outside world started paying attention.

The sovereignty you have over your work will inspire far more people than the actual content ever will. How your own sovereignty inspires other people to find their own sovereignty, their own sense of freedom and possibility, will give the work far more power than the work's objective merits ever will.

Your idea doesn't have to be big. It just has to be yours alone. The more the idea is yours alone, the more freedom you have to do something really amazing.

The more amazing, the more people will click with your idea. The more people click with your idea, the more this little thing of yours will snowball into a big thing.

That's what doodling on business cards taught me.


3. Put the hours in.

Doing anything worthwhile takes forever. 90% of what separates successful people and failed people is time, effort, and stamina.
I get asked a lot, "Your business card format is very simple. Aren't you worried about somebody ripping it off?"

Standard Answer: Only if they can draw more of them than me, better than me.

What gives the work its edge is the simple fact that I've spent years drawing them. I've drawn thousands. Tens of thousands of man hours.

So if somebody wants to rip my idea off, go ahead. If somebody wants to overtake me in the business card doodle wars, go ahead. You've got many long years in front of you. And unlike me, you won't be doing it for the joy of it. You'll be doing it for some self-loathing, ill-informed, lame-ass mercenary reason. So the years will be even longer and far, far more painful. Lucky you.

If somebody in your industry is more successful than you, it's probably because he works harder at it than you do. Sure, maybe he's more inherently talented, more adept at networking etc, but I don't consider that an excuse. Over time, that advantage counts for less and less. Which is why the world is full of highly talented, network-savvy, failed mediocrities.

So yeah, success means you've got a long road ahead of you, regardless. How do you best manage it?

Well, as I've written elsewhere, don't quit your day job. I didn't. I work every day at the office, same as any other regular schmoe. I have a long commute on the train, ergo that's when I do most of my drawing. When I was younger I drew mostly while sitting at a bar, but that got old.

The point is; an hour or two on the train is very managable for me. The fact I have a job means I don't feel pressured to do something market-friendly. Instead, I get to do whatever the hell I want. I get to do it for my own satisfaction. And I think that makes the work more powerful in the long run. It also makes it easier to carry on with it in a calm fashion, day-in-day out, and not go crazy in insane creative bursts brought on by money worries.

The day job, which I really like, gives me something productive and interesting to do among fellow adults. It gets me out of the house in the day time. If I were a professional cartoonist I'd just be chained to a drawing table at home all day, scribbling out a living in silence, interrupted only by freqent trips to the coffee shop. No, thank you.

Simply put, my method allows me to pace myself over the long haul, which is important.

Stamina is utterly important. And stamina is only possible if it's managed well. People think all they need to do is endure one crazy, intense, job-free creative burst and their dreams will come true. They are wrong, they are stupidly wrong.

Being good at anything is like figure skating- the definition of being good at it is being able to make it look easy. But it never is easy. Ever. That's what the stupidly wrong people coveniently forget.

If I was just starting out writing, say, a novel or a screenplay, or maybe starting up a new software company, I wouldn't try to quit my job in order to make this big, dramatic heroic-quest thing about it.

I would do something far simpler: I would find that extra hour or two in the day that belongs to nobody else but me, and I would make it productive. Put the hours in, do it for long enough and magical, life-transforming things happen eventually. Sure, that means less time watching TV, internet surfing, going out or whatever.

But who cares?


4. If your biz plan depends on you suddenly being "discovered" by some big shot, your plan will probably fail.

Nobody suddenly discovers anything. Things are made slowly and in pain.
I was offered a quite substantial publishing deal a year or two ago. Turned it down. The company sent me a contract. I looked it over. Hmmmm...

Called the company back. Asked for some clarifications on some points in the contract. Never heard back from them. The deal died.

This was a very respected company. You may have even heard of it.

They just assumed I must be just like all the other people they represent- hungry and desperate and willing to sign anything.

They wanted to own me, regardless of how good a job they did.

That's the thing about some big publishers. They want 110% from you, but they don't offer to do likewise in return. To them, the artist is just one more noodle in a big bowl of pasta.

Their business model is to basically throw the pasta against the wall, and see which one sticks. The ones that fall to the floor are just forgotten.

Publishers are just middlemen. That's all. If artists could remember that more often, they'd save themselves a lot of aggrevation.

Anyway, yeah, I can see gapingvoid being a 'product' one day. Books, T-shirts and whatnot. I think it could make a lot of money, if handled correctly. But I'm not afraid to walk away if I think the person offering it is full of hot air. I've already got my groove etc. Not to mention another career that's doing quite well, thank you.

I think "gapingvoid as product line" idea is pretty inevitable, down the road. Watch this space.


5. You are responsible for your own experience.

Nobody can tell you if what you're doing is good, meaningful or worthwhile. The more compelling the path, the more lonely it is.
Every creative person is looking for "The Big Idea". You know, the one that is going to catapult them out from the murky depths of obscurity and on to the highest planes of incandescent ludicity.

The one that's all love-at-first-sight with the Zeitgeist.

The one that's going to get them invited to all the right parties, metaphorical or otherwise.

So naturally you ask yourself, if and when you finally come up with The Big Idea, after years of toil, struggle and doubt, how do you know whether or not it is "The One"?

Answer: You don't.

There's no glorious swelling of existential triumph.

That's not what happens.

All you get is this rather kvetchy voice inside you that seems to say, "This is totally stupid.This is utterly moronic. This is a complete waste of time. I'm going to do it anyway."

And you go do it anyway.

Second-rate ideas like glorious swellings far more. Keeps them alive longer.


6. Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten.

Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with books on algebra etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the creative bug is just a wee voice telling you, "I�d like my crayons back, please."

So you've got the itch to do something. Write a screenplay, start a painting, write a book, turn your recipe for fudge brownies into a proper business, whatever. You don't know where the itch came from, it's almost like it just arrived on your doorstep, uninvited. Until now you were quite happy holding down a real job, being a regular person...

Until now.

You don't know if you're any good or not, but you'd think you could be. And the idea terrifies you. The problem is, even if you are good, you know nothing about this kind of business. You don't know any publishers or agents or all these fancy-shmancy kind of folk. You have a friend who's got a cousin in California who's into this kind of stuff, but you haven't talked to your friend for over two years...

Besides, if you write a book, what if you can't find a publisher? If you write a screenplay, what if you can't find a producer? And what if the producer turns out to be a crook? You've always worked hard your whole life, you'll be damned if you'll put all that effort into something if there ain't no pot of gold at the end of this dumb-ass rainbow...

Heh. That's not your wee voice asking for the crayons back. That's your outer voice, your adult voice, your boring & tedious voice trying to find a way to get the wee crayon voice to shut the hell up.

Your wee voice doesn't want you to sell something. Your wee voice wants you to make something. There's a big difference. Your wee voice doesn't give a damn about publishers or Hollywood producers.

Go ahead and make something. Make something really special. Make something amazing that will really blow the mind of anybody who sees it.

If you try to make something just to fit your uninformed view of some hypothetical market, you will fail. If you make something special and powerful and honest and true, you will succeed.

The wee voice didn't show up because it decided you need more money or you need to hang out with movie stars. Your wee voice came back because your soul somehow depends on it. There's something you haven't said, something you haven't done, some light that needs to be switched on, and it needs to be taken care of. Now.

So you have to listen to the wee voice or it will die... taking a big chunk of you along with it.

They're only crayons. You didn't fear them in kindergarten, why fear them now?


7. Keep your day job.

I�m not just saying that for the usual reason i.e. because I think your idea will fail. I�m saying it because to suddenly quit one�s job in a big ol' creative drama-queen moment is always, always, always in direct conflict with what I call "The Sex & Cash Theory".
THE SEX & CASH THEORY: "The creative person basically has two kinds of jobs: One is the sexy, creative kind. Second is the kind that pays the bills. Sometimes the task in hand covers both bases, but not often. This tense duality will always play center stage. It will never be transcended."

A good example is Phil, a NY photographer friend of mine. He does really wild stuff for the indie magazines- it pays nothing, but it allows him to build his portfolio. Then he'll go off and shoot some catalogues for a while. Nothing too exciting, but it pays the bills.

Another example is somebody like Martin Amis. He writes "serious" novels, but he has to supplement his income by writing the occasional newspaper article for the London papers (novel royalties are bloody pathetic- even bestsellers like Amis aren't immune).

Or actors. One year Travolta will be in an ultra-hip flick like Pulp Fiction ("Sex"), the next he'll be in some dumb spy thriller ("Cash").

Or painters. You spend one month painting blue pictures because that's the color the celebrity collectors are buying this season ("Cash"), you spend the next month painting red pictures because secretly you despise the color blue and love the color red ("Sex").

Or geeks. You spend you weekdays writing code for a faceless corporation ("Cash"), then you spend your evening and weekends writing anarchic, weird computer games to amuse your techie friends with ("Sex").

It's balancing the need to make a good living while still maintaining one's creative sovereignty. My M.O. is gapingvoid ("Sex"), coupled with my day job ("Cash").

I'm thinking about the young writer who has to wait tables to pay the bills, in spite of her writing appearing in all the cool and hip magazines.... who dreams of one day of not having her life divided so harshly.

Well, over time the 'harshly' bit might go away, but not the 'divided'.

"This tense duality will always play center stage. It will never be transcended."

As soon as you accept this, I mean really accept this, for some reason your career starts moving ahead faster. I don't know why this happens. It's the people who refuse to cleave their lives this way- who just want to start Day One by quitting their current crappy day job and moving straight on over to best-selling author... Well, they never make it.

Anyway, it's called "The Sex & Cash Theory". Keep it under your pillow.


8. Companies that squelch creativity can no longer compete with companies that champion creativity.

Nor can you bully a subordinate into becoming a genius.
Since the modern, scientifically-conceived corporation was invented in the early half of the Twentieth Century, creativity has been sacrificed in favor of forwarding the interests of the "Team Player".

Fair enough. There was more money in doing it that way; that's why they did it.

There's only one problem. Team Players are not very good at creating value on their own. They are not autonomous; they need a team in order to exist.

So now corporations are awash with non-autonomous thinkers.

"I don't know. What do you think?"
"I don't know. What do you think?"
"I don't know. What do you think?"
"I don't know. What do you think?"
"I don't know. What do you think?"
"I don't know. What do you think?"

And so on.

Creating an economically viable entity where lack of original thought is handsomely rewarded creates a rich, fertile environment for parasites to breed. And that's exactly what's been happening. So now we have millions upon millions of human tapeworms thriving in the Western World, making love to their Powerpoint presentations, feasting on the creativity of others.

What happens to an ecology, when the parasite level reaches critical mass?

The ecology dies.

If you're creative, if you can think independantly, if you can articulate passion, if you can override the fear of being wrong, then your company needs you now more than it ever did. And now your company can no longer afford to pretend that isn't the case.

So dust off your horn and start tooting it. Exactly.

However if you're not paricularly creative, then you're in real trouble. And there's no buzzword or "new paradigm" that can help you. They may not have mentioned this in business school, but... people like watching dinosaurs die.


9. Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.

You may never reach the summit; for that you will be forgiven. But if you don't make at least one serious attempt to get above the snow-line, years later you will find yourself lying on your deathbed, and all you will feel is emptiness.
This metaphorical Mount Everest doesn't have to manifest itself as "Art". For some people, yes, it might be a novel or a painting. But Art is just one path up the mountain, one of many. With others the path may be something more prosaic. Making a million dollars, raising a family, owning the most Burger King franchises in the Tri-State area, building some crazy oversized model airplane, the list has no end.

Whatever. Let's talk about you now. Your mountain. Your private Mount Everest. Yes, that one. Exactly.

Let's say you never climb it. Do you have a problem witb that? Can you just say to yourself, "Never mind, I never really wanted it anyway" and take up stamp collecting instead?

Well, you could try. But I wouldn't believe you. I think it's not OK for you never to try to climb it. And I think you agree with me. Otherwise you wouldn't have read this far.

So it looks like you're going to have to climb the frickin' mountain. Deal with it.

My advice? You don't need my advice. You really don't. The biggest piece of advice I could give anyone would be this:

"Admit that your own private Mount Everest exists. That is half the battle."
And you've already done that. You really have. Otherwise, again, you wouldn't have read this far.

Rock on.


10. The more talented somebody is, the less they need the props.

Meeting a person who wrote a masterpiece on the back of a deli menu would not surprise me. Meeting a person who wrote a masterpiece with a silver Cartier fountain pen on an antique writing table in an airy SoHo loft would SERIOUSLY surprise me.

Abraham Lincoln wrote The Gettysberg Address on a piece of ordinary stationery that he had borrowed from the friend whose house he was staying at.

James Joyce wrote with a simple pencil and notebook. Somebody else did the typing, but only much later.

Van Gough rarely painted with more than six colors on his palette.

I draw on the back of wee biz cards. Whatever.

There's no correlation between creativity and equipment ownership. None. Zilch. Nada.

Actually, as the artist gets more into his thing, and as he gets more successful, his number of tools tends to go down. He knows what works for him. Expending mental energy on stuff wastes time. He's a man on a mission. He's got a deadline. He's got some rich client breathing down his neck. The last thing he wants is to spend 3 weeks learning how to use a router drill if he doesn't need to.

A fancy tool just gives the second-rater one more pillar to hide behind.

Which is why there are so many second-rate art directors with state-of-the-art Macinotsh computers.

Which is why there are so many hack writers with state-of-the-art laptops.

Which is why there are so many crappy photographers with state-of-the-art digital cameras.

Which is why there are so many unremarkable painters with expensive studios in trendy neighborhoods.

Hiding behind pillars, all of them.

Pillars do not help; they hinder. The more mighty the pillar, the more you end up relying on it psychologically, the more it gets in your way.

And this applies to business, as well.

Which is why there are so many failing businesses with fancy offices.

Which is why there's so many failing businessmen spending a fortune on fancy suits and expensive yacht club memberships.

Again, hiding behind pillars.

Successful people, artists and non-artists alike, are very good at spotting pillars. They're very good at doing without them. Even more importantly, once they've spotted a pillar, they're very good at quickly getting rid of it.

Good pillar management is one of the most valuable talents you can have on the planet. If you have it, I envy you. If you don't, I pity you.

Sure, nobody's perfect. We all have our pillars. We seem to need them. You are never going to live a pillar-free existence. Neither am I.

All we can do is keep asking the question, "Is this a pillar" about every aspect of our business, our craft, our reason for being alive etc and go from there. The more we ask, the better we get at spotting pillars, the more quickly the pillars vanish.

Ask. Keep asking. And then ask again. Stop asking and you're dead.


11. Don't try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether.

Your plan for getting your work out there has to be as original as the actual work, perhaps even more so. The work has to create a totally new market. There's no point trying to do the same thing as 250,000 other young hopefuls, waiting for a miracle. All existing business models are wrong. Find a new one.
I've seen it so many times. Call him Ted. A young kid in the big city, just off the bus, wanting to be a famous something: artist, writer, musician, film director, whatever. He's full of fire, full of passion, full of ideas. And you meet Ted again five or ten years later, and he's still tending bar at the same restaurant. He's not a kid anymore. But he's still no closer to his dream.

His voice is still as defiant as ever, certainly, but there's an emptiness to his words that wasn't there before.

Yeah, well, Ted probably chose a very well-trodden path. Write novel, be discovered, publish bestseller, sell movie rights, retire rich in 5 years. Or whatever.

No worries that there's probably 3 million other novelists/actors/musicians/painters etc with the same plan. But of course, Ted's special. Of course his fortune will defy the odds eventually. Of course. That's what he keeps telling you, as he refills your glass.

Is your plan of a similar ilk? If it is, then I'd be concerned.

When I started the business card cartoons I was lucky; at the time I had a pretty well-paid corporate job in New York that I liked. The idea of quitting it in order to join the ranks of Bohemia didn't even occur to me. What, leave Manhattan for Brooklyn? Ha. Not bloody likely. I was just doing it to amuse myself in the evenings, to give me something to do at the bar while I waited for my date to show up or whatever.

There was no commerical incentive or larger agenda governing my actions. If I wanted to draw on the back of a business card instead of a "proper" medium, I could. If I wanted to use a four letter word, I could. If I wanted to ditch the standard figurative format and draw psychotic abstractions instead, I could. There was no flashy media or publishing executive to keep happy. And even better, there was no artist-lifestyle archetype to conform to.

It gave me a lot of freedom. That freedom paid off in spades later.

Question how much freedom your path affords you. Be utterly ruthless about it.

It's your freedom that will get you to where you want to go. Blind faith in an over-subscribed, vainglorious myth will only hinder you.

Is you plan unique? Is there nobody else doing it? Then I'd be excited. A little scared, maybe, but excited.


12. If you accept the pain, it cannot hurt you.
The pain of making the necessary sacrifices always hurts more than you think it's going to. I know. It sucks. That being said, doing something seriously creative is one of the most amazing experiences one can have, in this or any other lifetime. If you can pull it off, it's worth it. Even if you don't end up pulling it off, you'll learn many incredible, magical, valuable things. It's NOT doing it when you know you full well you HAD the opportunity- that hurts FAR more than any failure.
Frankly, I think you're better off doing something on the assumption that you will NOT be rewarded for it, that it will NOT receive the recognition it deserves, that it will NOT be worth the time and effort invested in it.

The obvious advantage to this angle is, of course, if anything good comes of it, then it's an added bonus.

The second, more subtle and profound advantage is: that by scuppering all hope of worldly and social betterment from the creative act, you are finally left with only one question to answer:

Do you make this damn thing exist or not?

And once you can answer that truthfully to yourself, the rest is easy.

[To read the remainder of IGNORE EVERYBODY- 40 chapters in all- please go buy the book, Thanks!

Posted by hugh macleod at August 22, 2004 6:55 PM | TrackBack

Sometimes I find languages are too limited to express one's feeling..... it was a brilliant piece I have read for a long time......

Posted by: Subhra Ray at August 29, 2004 4:31 AM

Marvellous. This compilation of all postings into a single one is amazing and shows the effort put into this series. Thanks again.

Posted by: Mario at August 29, 2004 12:27 PM

I agree with Subhra. It was a brilliant piece that took forever to read.

Posted by: jon at August 29, 2004 12:41 PM

damn, he's dumb!

Posted by: Guy at August 29, 2004 2:58 PM

This is inspired work. By that I mean, I've found someone who can get their ego out of the way long enough to write something that smacks of the truth. Well done.

Posted by: RGrant at August 29, 2004 5:59 PM

Thanks Hugh. Saves me having to copy/paste all your posts into my document on my desktop so that I have a copy that looks like this! Much better.

Posted by: Troy Angrignon at August 30, 2004 4:53 AM

Hugh, Thanks for writing this piece. I personally found it very honest and realistic, and at the same time also very encouraging. I like the bubbling enthusiasm that hides under all the dire warnings!

Posted by: John Clift at August 30, 2004 2:51 PM

They (and you know how they are) say that when the student is ready, a teacher appears. Thanks for an excellent, resonant lesson.

Posted by: Bob Hawks at August 30, 2004 10:31 PM

My wife (the artist) pointed me at this - very profound. Thank you.

I must say, however, that my *not* being an artist contributed to my *totally* misinsterpreting the "The choice of media is irrelevant." item, quite to my amusement when I actually read the details.

Interpret that line from the POV of "media" == "big TV" (vs. "media" == "paint, ink, whatever") and you'll see what I mean.

The sentiment works both ways, though... :)

Posted by: John Hardin at August 30, 2004 11:21 PM

Thanks for telling us what we already know, but all needed to confirm.

Posted by: T at August 31, 2004 1:17 AM

Thanks for telling us what we already know, but all needed to confirm.

Posted by: T at August 31, 2004 1:18 AM

This was neat. I am going to keep a bookmark on this.

Posted by: Maralena at August 31, 2004 2:34 AM

This was neat. I am going to keep a bookmark on this.

Posted by: Maralena at August 31, 2004 2:34 AM

This was neat. I am going to keep a bookmark on this.

Posted by: Maralena at August 31, 2004 2:34 AM

Good Stuff.

Posted by: Clint at August 31, 2004 2:36 AM

Lot of wisdom here - going to take me awhile to absorb.
"Do or do not. There is no try." - Yoda

Posted by: kara at August 31, 2004 2:44 AM

Hugh, I have always been a fan and continue to be so. You are wise grasshopper. So wise.

Posted by: David Freedman at August 31, 2004 10:47 AM

You just continue to rule, Hugh. This was a much needed read for me... going through my own personal 'creative/work' hell right now. You've inspired me. Thank you. x

Posted by: gia at August 31, 2004 4:48 PM

I didn't finish reading it because my risotto was burning (my dead mother heard that), but I hope to finish it by the end of the month. Capricorns are slow learners, or so I was told.

You write like someone in recovery. Witty, sometimes brilliant, and a little repetitious. But that's OK, keep coming back.

There is a great deal of rich material here that I hope I can use one day, like a good dentifrice, My neurons are not exactly connecting at the moment (or is that charging?), nor am I wrapped very tight. I need a creative idea to avoid eviction notice. My paintings don't seem to move very many people. Oh well, to paraphrase that patron saint of homosexuals, Norma Desmond, "It's not the pictures that got small, it's my paycheck".

Posted by: bitch-en-l'ile at September 1, 2004 7:41 PM

That is awesome.

Posted by: Impropaganda at September 2, 2004 10:02 AM

I liked reading this and some of it I might even remember when I'm arguing with my self, over my life-philosophies and such. I think much of this will help me, especially the part about being hard-working. Things don't happen by themselves.

Posted by: Maze at September 3, 2004 8:13 PM

oooh! this iz cool, men!

Posted by: sheilajule at September 8, 2004 11:17 AM

Wow it is strange reading facts the smack home the truth too you. Yet you were never truly aware of the truth till it was right in front of your eyes.So many statments ring true.

I am at a point of my life where I decide a safe predictable career or a creative exciting one- that could either land me in the gutter or looking at the stars. Some how I just think I will regret not ever knowing what could have been. If it all goes wrong at least I tried to climb my everest.

Well Hugh, you have found your calling. Expand on these musings a make a book. Everybody loves it.

Posted by: Claire at September 8, 2004 6:30 PM

You are my new god.

Brilliant piece.

Posted by: Neil at September 9, 2004 11:14 AM

Posted by: David at September 9, 2004 2:45 PM

If you like, drop by my site and get a good clear glance at the produce of commercial, heartless work. It's the product of my "uninformed view of some hypothetical market".

Thankfully it's only five days old and I can still call it a "start".

This is the first time I've been here or read anything you've written. I only wanted to thank you for a long article. Long enough, quite enough that I could hear the stirrings that prompted me to build the site in the first place.

Here's the new premise for my hobby:

Business plan

Heres the thing - many many people suck at business. It doesnt mean their bad people. But they are bad bosses, bad managers, bad decision makers, and they need help.

Heres the other thing. Most of those people had a really great idea that got them going. They've got their own brilliance and they're just in the wrong spot.

Here's the last thing. Im really good at seeing the value of other peoples innovations and ideas. I get excited about things that fit, harmony, essence and grace. The art of business

And people that suck in business really need my help to package their brilliance.

So heres the plan. I will work hard to be articulate, creative, honest and insightful. At every opportunity I'll help people be brighter. And it will always be my hobby.


Posted by: Jeremy at September 10, 2004 4:19 AM

Hilarious and well put!

Posted by: Kathryn at September 10, 2004 5:51 PM

this thing was great! very inspiring for this young and naive art student = )

Posted by: jayne at September 11, 2004 12:08 AM

I find this article very amusing. If you really sit back and try to get what they're saying, it is really quite true. This is quite some good advice, especially to myself, as an artist!
Thanks for listening!!

Posted by: brittneyH at September 14, 2004 12:57 AM

What do I think?
but Ill carry on
this is the beginning...
IF THERE IS AT ALL A GUIDE points me in the right direction!! thanks!!

I Agree!
...but not at the extent of...well, "been a follower"...It wouldn't be right to be like the rest :-) ...and perhaps as you said:"All existing... models are wrong. Find a new one" ...I'll improve on this ...will let you know!
...maybe one day I'll stop pouring your wine.upss! a spill!!!!!!!!

Posted by: El Tito at September 15, 2004 12:43 PM

This is a wonderful article. I have linked to it from my site ( in today's links, which will be archived on Saturday night or Sunday. I'd also like to link to it from my writer's resources page, but would need your permission for that. Check out the site and email if that'd be okay.

Posted by: Virginia at September 18, 2004 9:46 AM

this is deep.........

Posted by: ace at September 21, 2004 10:48 AM

Hi, great piece. I'm in love with Nicole Kidman. Her beauty inspires me in many ways, and I have written several songs with her in mind.

In creativity, its important to have a muse.

Posted by: Meade Skelton at September 30, 2004 2:14 PM

this is pretty high-larious

Posted by: haikus at October 7, 2004 5:12 PM

Absolutely wonderful. furled it. am gonna blog it. remember it. use it. thanks.

Posted by: Nazeer at October 8, 2004 3:10 AM

Absolutely bloody hilarious and honest! Fantastic.

Posted by: darryl at October 11, 2004 8:01 PM

Brilliance is the thing you read and you think, 'That's exactly what I believe, but I could never have found such a perfect way to articulate it.' Thank you. Don't stop. I'd write more, but I just remembered I'm looking for Everest.

Posted by: rob at October 22, 2004 5:36 AM

Marvelous, pure thought that differs from the straight line we call earth.

Posted by: Henry at October 26, 2004 2:35 AM

Very interesting text to read.

I agree and disagree with you on every point metioned ? why ? because I like to see things in absolute relativity.

More like an absolute flow of existance. (Now I guess youve heard that one before)

With you writing this down you are fixing this flow into text while the flow is still going on, just like I am now, while you are constantly going on an changeing just like you discribed the world does to.

I still love the indepth angel and way you have discribed this infinate issue and yet keped it so simple.

Excuse my english, its not my first language ?!

Posted by: Philip at November 9, 2004 9:36 PM

this is great stuff only I'm already under these protocols... one you should add is "just don't give a fuck.."

Posted by: Ahmad A. el Itani at November 10, 2004 11:19 AM

Good stuff. I read the whole thing and I have A.D.D.

I disagree on only one point; "Picasso was not a great colorist"

It`s a bit like saying Frank Lloyed Wright was a lousy carpenter.

Patron standing next to Picasso at one of his exhibits: "What does this painting represent Mesiuer (sp) Picasso?

Picasso: "it represents 7 miliion francs madame."

Posted by: JJGittes at November 25, 2004 11:02 AM

This advice kinda makes me want to turn the computer off for a few weeks and take the time to rethink what the hell I am striving for.

Thanks for the wake-up call.

Posted by: Edibletv at November 26, 2004 8:15 PM

So popular! Really terrific!~
Hope you'll contribute more.

Posted by: Mabel at December 7, 2004 4:52 PM

Don't I know you from somewhere?
Ah, I got it... we work the same place. :)

Posted by: Paul Bischoff at December 10, 2004 4:14 PM

Wonderful! Brilliant! Insightful! Clever too. But I disagree with #7. Day jobs are what kill us - in your metaphor they make us impotent. When I was your age I was an advertising copywriter - and I am still mad at client-banker Bill Green who had the power to step on my best lead line. If you get stuck in a day job, hate it, fight it, escape! Cash for sex, that's the formula for a joyful life. As a fairly prim 68-year-old woman, I would prefer another metaphor.

Posted by: Judy Breck at December 29, 2004 1:15 PM

This was a very heady read. Thanks a buttload!

Posted by: Alter Nation at December 29, 2004 4:03 PM

te alabamos seor..est bueno

Posted by: waka at December 31, 2004 11:42 AM

I don't know what the moral of this story is but;
I spent several months working with someone who, I thought had the most obvious hair piece ever invented. I mean it curled up at the edges, frizzed under strong light sources, went brittle in the cold and damn near slipped off when he perspired. Everyone pointed, kids chuckled, people whispered and some even got bold enough to comment. These comments made him somewhat irate and it dawned on me that he actually believed it was real hair. Then I began wondering if he was quite stable, was he in some form of denial? Had it been surgically replaced during a coma? Did he really not know? I became obsessed and began plotting ways of revealing the terrible secret to him. By my careful manouvering we started having the occassional social drink and in this lay my opportunity. He was a heavy drinker and prone to collapse in public houses, he was also shrewd and no one could associate with him who was not also prepared to down gallons of alchohol. I drank and I waited for my chance until it came when, one evening, he lay sprawled accross a seat in the local pub. My problem was that I had also been wobbling on the verge of stupour and collapse. Not to worry, I was determined, I scrambled my way accross to him and tugged at his hair piece......? It didn't come off, I pulled harder, it was damn good glue or something. I held up four fingers to myself but I could see six. I looked closely at his scalp and I am quite convinced that every single hair had a root, it was real hair, all of it, but how..........? I collapsed...... alchohol poisoned.

Since that day people have been looking at me funny. I don't know why especially, apart from the excessive drinking seems to have affected my hair a little bit. I had a good look in the mirror and it did seem a bit odd. To start with I though he had got back at me by shaving my head while I was out cold. I thought he had glued a hair piece to my head but I can't pull it off and I'm sure there are roots. It's just something is not quite right about it............I'm not sure what though?

Posted by: mark at January 5, 2005 12:59 AM