Hello and welcome to the 71st episode of The Spark & The Art creativity podcast. Thank you for subscribing to our weekly podcast where we alternate between interviews with creative folks from all different career levels and insight and inspiration episodes. All with the intention that you’ll get what you need to get your creative projects started and, more importantly, finished.
I’m your host Tucker and this week is insight and inspiration and we’re gonna go to CAMP.
Earlier this week I attended the CAMP Festival here in Calgary. It’s a two day conference on technology and design with a ton of great speakers. I attended last year and got an interview with designer Stefan Sagmeister (you can hear the interview at TheSparkAndTheArt.com/24). That interview was a little noisy and was interrupted a couple times so this year I decided I would connect with the designers in person and get information to set up Skype interviews. So you can expect an interview with at least one of them, Aaron Draplin, in the next month or so.
I’m going to talk about the speakers and what they said but I’m just going to pull out a message or two from each talk because there is no way I can properly summarize them all.
The first talk was Hardware For The Soft World by Stacey Mulcahy. Stacey works for microsoft and work is used pretty loosely here. As she describes her job she basically just thinks of fun things to do and then makes them. Like a toy cat that when you pet it random cat pictures stream on the computer monitor. There was a pair of pants that you could give a booty bump too and it would initiate flashing lights and celebration music. This is all in support of researching what The Internet Of Things could look like. As she pointed out during her talk "Not everything needs to be useful. They can simply be enjoyable.” But you know, it’s that fun and exploration that I guarantee will lead to something that’s accidentally useful.
Next was Alon (and I’m not going to try and say his last name sorry) and his talk was Miles Davis Taught Me To Draw. If you’re dying to hear a tale of Alon meeting Miles Davis and getting a drawing lesson you’re going to be disappointed. But the story is even better than that anyway. Alon is jealous of Jazz musicians because not only can they play jazz but they can create their art with other artists at the same time. I started thinking of my chats with comic artists where one can draw the characters and scenery of the frame and another will ink in the lines and another may do all the colours. Some artists will of course do all that themselves but it’s all very solitary and separated. I also thought of my own music where it’s been very solitary as well. I would write the songs by myself in my basement and perform the songs by myself with a guitar on stage. When I went to record my five song EP I basically gave over control of the music to the musicians. I’m very happy with how all the songs turned out but I equate it to the comic process rather than the making music together process.
It’s that process of creating together that Alon wanted to capture. He went through a couple of the projects where he attempted to capture that experience but my favourite was the Improv Canvas. It’s a system of two webcams with one pointed at his canvas and the other at someone else canvas somewhere else in the world. The two canvases were layered on top of each other in a computer so each person could see the composite image. Then they started drawing and painting together. With no plan or idea of what they were going to do they each created a single image with their two images.
I’m not doing a good job of describing it so you should go to ImprovCanvas.com to see more. It made me want to play music with other people. I also wanted to take part in one of his sessions even though, as a ux designer, I have absolutely no skill with drawing other than simply communicating ideas. Communicating emotion is for artists.
Yuko Shimizu was next and she told us her story of starting in advertising and marketing in a corporate environment in Japan and watching all her male counterparts move up and double and triple her salary within her time there. She said Japan as less of a glass ceiling and more of a glass table.
Yuko went to art college in her mid thirties and showed us a piece of college work she was embarrassed of because she said it’s important for new talent to see that you’re going to start off making crap it’s just a matter of continually trying to get better with each piece. Then she showed us some work she did for The Gap and New York Times and some packaging. Her message was one of “It’s never too late.” In her presentations he says that “We will never be as young as we are today.” Saying that when she was in art college in her thirties she would look at her 18 and 20 year old classmates and be jealous of all the time they had ahead of them. But then her 50 and 60 year old instructors would look at 34 Yuko and say the same thing. So, if you feel you are too old. You’re not. Just go do that thing you wanna do.
And that was the morning of the first day. Seriously there was three more talks in the afternoon including Aaron Draplin’s rambunctious talk about junking, logo design, appreciating the old and most importantly just creating your own stuff. Working as a designer you are often creating or collaborating on other people’s visions. Yuko talked about the disposability of her work as she designed a line of diapers for a company and will often walk on discarded pieces of her art work as people drop Times articles around the subway. Director Neil Huxley talked about how his main work is commercials and how he realizes it’s just marketing and advertising but then showed a trailer for his own documentary on a boxer from his neighbourhood and a clip from the student film that earned him accolades enough for him to think that filmmaking was a viable career.
While a fair amount of the talks were aimed at working in agencies and client work I always seemed to hear the message “Make Your Own Stuff!”. Aaron Draplin basically said those exact words while talking about his Field Notes notebooks. I wanted to shout “Make Your Own Stuff" to some of the speakers who were proud of their client work but seemed like they were searching for something in it that they just weren’t getting. So I share this insight with you and hopefully you’ll pass this message along to someone who could use a little encouragement.
I attended another 5 talks on day two. I am sufficiently inspired and have some great ideas for how I can progress my own projects as well as things to help at my day job.
If you’d like to learn more about Camp and see a recap of the conference you can visit http://campfestival.ca/
You can find links to all the speakers and projects from today’s episode at TheSparkAndTheArt.com/71
And finally if you are feeling stuck I need you to say it loud and say it strong. “I will make my own stuff!” If you’re on a bus or something and there’s people around you can wait till you’re alone. If you’re by yourself in your car or on a walk I want you to say it “I will make my own stuff.” Can you feel it in your chest and in your throat? No, then you didn’t say it strong enough. Say it “I will make my own stuff.” and I know when you are saying this you know exactly what project it is that you are talking about. So now that you’ve felt it, do it, Make Your Own Stuff.
Thanks for listening and remember: you won’t get the art without the work and you won’t do the work without the spark.
Links for this episode
Camp Festival - http://campfestival.ca
Stacey Mulcahy - http://thebitchwhocodes.com
Alon Chitayat - http://www.animishmish.com
Improv Canvas - http://www.improvcanvas.com
Yuko Shimizo - http://yukoart.com
Aaron Draplin - http://draplin.com
Field Notes - http://fieldnotesbrand.com
Neil Huxley - https://vimeo.com/neilhuxley