I don’t remember how I stumbled upon Newspaper Blackout by Austin Kleon, but they stroke a chord in me. Later I realized that it is their minimalism and the idea to create something by subtraction instead of adding. They’re just cool and awesome and I recommend that you try them yourself. My favorite poem is “The Ninja’s Chauffeur” (link to scan):
Which would you ratherbeAkill something ninjawith a familyyr destined to avengeorthe ninja’strusty chauffeur.who isquiet, hard-working,andknown to datea lotmore girls?
It think it’s the mix of nostalgia connecting it to the TV-shows of my youth like “Kobra, übernehmen Sie / Mission Impossible” and the awareness of my grown-up self that cool heroes and secret agents don’t have much time to spend it with their families, sitting lonely in their batcaves or building the sacred golden nunchuks of wisdom while travelling to their next mission. Sidekicks – who are not killed due to dramatic story telling – may have the better/more fullfilling job, am I right?
I’m still wondering how I could transfer the Blackout style to my music. Just subtracting things and keeping it as minimal as possible is cool, but what I like about Blackout is, that you’re actually able to see the amount of original material needed to create the few words of the poem. I would like to have this in my music, but well, how?
Then came “Steal like an Artist” and again, it stroke a chord, because many thoughts presented here were like my own and the advice given is very helpful if you think of yourself as a creative person (how doesn’t? Show your hands!). I suggest buying it and giving a copy away. It makes a great present, too just like Blackout. You may like to check out the talk @ TED to get a first impression.
Here a short overview of the chapters:
1. Steal like an Artist
2. Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started
3. Write the book you want to read
4. Use your hands
5. Side projects and hobbies are important
6. The Secret: Do good work and share it with people
7. Geography is no longer the master
8. Be nice (The World is a small place)
9. Be boring (It’s the only way to get work done)
10. Creativity is subtraction
The best part? Hard to tell, because everything is so damn true. I once wrote on my website “This music does not claim to be original. It’s just a mix of all the stuff I like.” I did not realize that this could make it original if I follow this path to the end.
Austin, if you read this: Thanks for this insight. I’m proud to steal now and one day I will know the answer to “Who are you and why are you here?”
“Go make that stuff”
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