The work of art


Ted Weinstein interviewed me for his new podcast, The Work Of Art.

In part one, we talked about limitations as a source of creativity, how to take more artistic risks, the value of old fashioned tools as well as social media to build community, and how to keep one’s art fresh:


In part two, we talked about why women artists are better role models for maintaining work-family balance, how to raise creative children, the value of sales and other business skills for artists, etc.:

The noun and the verb


Lots of people want to be the noun without doing the verb. They want the job title without the work.

“Forget about being a Writer,” says novelist Ann Packer. “Follow the impulse to write.”

Let go of the thing that you’re trying to be (the noun), and focus on the actual work you need to be doing (the verb).

Doing the verb will take you someplace further and far more interesting than just wanting the noun.

To be a teacher and remain a student

to be a teacher but remain a student

C.S. Lewis wrote a great introduction to his Reflections on the Psalms that I used in the “Be An Amateur” section of my last book:

I write for the unlearned about things in which I am unlearned myself… It often happens that two schoolboys can solve difficulties in their work for one another better than the master can… The fellow-pupil can help more than the master because he knows less. The difficulty we want him to explain is one he has recently met. The expert met it so long ago that he has forgotten… I write as one amateur to another, talking about difficulties I have met, or lights I have gained…

This is the way I’ve always tried to approach writing, teaching, or speaking on stage: not as an expert, but as a fellow student. I’m trying to learn in the open. I’m letting others look over my shoulder while I figure things out.

And even when I do think I’ve figured some things out, I’m trying to find more things to figure out, because learning is the thing that keeps me alive, keeps me moving forward.

This, I think, is the great trick: To be a teacher and remain a student.


tufte taking a picture

I first read Edward Tufte’s books in 2006 when I was a 23-year-old librarian who didn’t even know there was such a thing as a designer. (Here are the maps I drew of Beautiful Evidence and Envisioning Information.) The books had a big impact on me, so much so that I applied to Carnegie Mellon’s information design program. (I got in, but wound up moving to Texas and becoming a web designer instead.)

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