Entries tagged "creative process"

Art is not a quarterly business, says Rick Rubin. And me.

the structure of the music industry is rooted in a corporate structure. It’s a quarterly business, but art is not a quarterly business. At Columbia, if Beyoncé didn’t deliver a record one year, for whatever reason, that really affected the whole economics of the company. And it’s impossible to build a music company as if you were selling shoes.

Rick Rubin

I remember when the bankers came in to meet with my boss when I worked at New Line Cinema. They wanted to know about the second quarter films slated this year and then were going to compare them to last years second quarter. And I was only 24 and had only worked there for less than a year but it was clear to me that they had no idea what they were talking about. We weren’t making pencils, or as Rick Rubin puts it, shoes. The desire for predictability means the bankers want to decrease risk. But you decrease risk really differently in making art. Value isn’t created by avoiding risk. And as you would in a business, any business, you have to take the right risk to grow and benefit. And you have to keep taking risk to get good at it. And the knowing of art is not a thinking knowing. It is a feeling knowing. That’s where the value is.

Joni Mitchell is my art teacher

“One slap on the wrist for playing by ear and I went underground for 10 years.” Joni Mitchell played music when she was very young and then a piano teacher smacked her with a ruler (not an unusual practice at the time) when she began to play by ear at one lesson rather than “have the masters under [her] fingers] as she reported in her CBC interview. That shaming and discouraging attitude and most of all the thinking and quibbling that comes with that way of interacting sent her creative self and spirit hiding underground. She didn’t try music again for 10 years. That’s what I take her to mean by what she talks about at 29:00 above when she discusses why she produced herself. I used to sit at the piano when I was very young and play my feelings. One of my clearest, purest emotional moments was there. Then my mum heard me and laughed at me or commented.
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Taylor Negron distils Sandra Bernhard’s impact

Great piece by the wonderful comic, writer and director Taylor Negron which captures the best of Sandra Bernhard and her impact. Sandra’s work had a huge influence on me and it’s fair to say that I wouldn’t be performing today if not for her groundbreaking solo show Without You I’m Nothing.

Like many innovators, much of what she did unique and edgy was rooted in the context of the time. Taylor Negron’s piece captures that beautifully. He’s a wonderful performer too. If you get a chance to see him live too, jump at it.

Being laid back isn’t as easy as it looks.

April 24, 2013

Yesterday I met with some young entrepreneurs from France. They were nothing like the coneheads. They seemed more kind and soft and human than most young entrepreneurs I see around the Bay Area today. They were excited about their adventure; wanting to connect people and see the car sharing they organized as secondary. It seemed it was still an adventure to them and not a way to seem grown up or important or get wealthy as soon as possible. I took them to my favourite place in Potrero Hill which also happens to be French. But we had burgers. The best ones in San Francisco. The most interesting thing to me about their car sharing business is that people can choose to not charge someone for a ride. What does it mean when we don't charge each other? When do people need to value their work and time by asking for more and when do people discover there's something precious and new they can't get by charging and measuring every thing they do?

Dave Goebel and I worked on a play together recently. He was in the band. I really wanted a drumming lesson from the moment we started hanging out.

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Saying what you can’t do can help you do it.

I was just reading Austin Kleon’s lovely lovely blog, once again and so enjoying how he shares the process of how he works (not to mention the clean design which I always covet). And I am also loving the way Austin has stayed with it. I can see how it feeds him and anchors some of his process. He seems to have a few creative anchors (his notebooks for one). I do too and I’d like to begin sharing them.

I am resolved to blog more often. So I’m jumping right back in. But I’ll be honest: one of the the things that’s kept me from blogging more in the past is that I really want to make changes to this site. And I haven’t figured out how to do that yet.

Sample of questions that have gone through my head on a regular basis:

  • how do I make the site more spacious?
  • how do I get to see a different font that I actually *like* when I write, on the back end?
  • how can I get a calendar up in the navigation so people can actually see my upcoming shows more easily
  • shouldn’t I want to spend more time on my site if I want others to join me here?
  • should I use Squarespace instead of WordPress?
  • Don’t I need to set up some kind of automatic back up process?
  • Do I need a separate site or just a page here to share the process of making my new show Everything Is Subject to Change

Ok. That’s a sampling. But I realize none of these questions (all of which remain unanswered) is helping me do the most important thing blogging can: regularly write in the open and stay connected to my own explorations. So, I’m just going to write posts. Perhaps they will be small ones. They probably should be small ones. But something regular to get my regular thoughts more shapely and more a part of the public conversation. I write and speak a great deal, but I’d like to have a more regular practice here. I’d also like to stay with myself a little more. I find that too much time on social media pages, while a wonderful way to be social, converse quickly and see new things, is also a way to not let my brain and body practice going much deeper into something. I do that for longer stories I’m telling on stage more and more often but then all my work can be ephemeral or on tape which remains unshared until it’s gone through and edited.

I’ve been running pretty regularly since 2010. With tiny, regular practice it’s become something I really look forward to. While I’ve written online in some form since before blogging software back in 1997, I haven’t been so regular at it since twitter and facebook have gotten much of my writing time.

And I’ve found that when I’m really really stuck. Just saying exactly what’s occurring to me out loud is a start. It’s also being with exactly what’s going on so it sort of tricks me into being in the present. And then, of course, I feel more relaxed and just fine, even if what I had to say isn’t the best work I’ve ever done. It’s a start. Now that I think back, it’s what I did with my very very first blog post a long time ago after talking with Jason Kottke about it.






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