September 10, 2004

you have to find your own schtick


More thoughts on "How To Be Creative":

25. You have to find your own schtick.

A Picasso always looks like Piccasso painted it. Hemingway always sounds like Hemingway. A Beethoven Symphony always sounds like a Beethoven's Symphony. Part of being a Master is learning how to sing in nobody else's voice but your own.
Every artist is looking for their big, definitive "Ah-Ha!" moment, whether they're a Master or not.

That moment where they finally find their true voice, once and for all.

For me, it was when I discovered drawing on the back of business cards.

Other, more famous and notable examples would be Jackson Pollack discovering splatter paint. Or Robert Ryman discovering all-white canvases. Andy Warhol discovering silkscreen. Hunter S Thompsonn discovering Gonzo Journalism. Duchamp discovering the Found Object. Jasper Johns discovering the American Flag. Hemingway discovering brevity. James Joyce discovering stream-of-conciousness prose.

Was it luck? Perhaps a little bit.

But it wasn't the format that made the art great. It was the fact that somehow while playing around with something new, suddenly they found themselves able to put their entire selves into it.

Only then did it become their 'schtick', their true voice etc.

That's what people responded to. The humanity, not the form. The voice, not the form.

Put your whole self into it, and you will find your true voice. Hold back and you won't. It's that simple.

Posted by hugh macleod at September 10, 2004 1:08 AM | TrackBack

"Mediocre artists borrow. Great artists steal." -- Attributed to Johannes Brahms

The artist succeeds by putting his or her entire self into the art, whether working with something old or something new. [T]he quality of immediacy [which is] essential to jazz . . . originates, not from the assumption that the notes have never been played before, but from a sense that they have come into being, in real time, as urgent creative impulses. -- Thomas Conrad, JazzTimes, April, 2004

Posted by: Sam Sherry at September 16, 2004 7:16 PM