A few folks did sketchnotes! From @flairflixt:
And from @katydondz:
Thank you to everyone who showed up. (And thanks to Erika Hall for her awesome moderation.) At some point, I’m going to write more here about some of the things we discussed. (Like the “elevator test,” the need for Eyerollers, the benefits of boredom, maybe even our fart zines.) And I’m trying to figure out how I can do something similar in the future.
There are more great authors coming up, too, so check out QBC’s lineup!
My favorite part of the library is the 4th floor, which used to just be storage (hence the sign when you come out of the elevator: YOU’RE IN THE RIGHT PLACE), and is now a gigantic creative lab, with a Zine collection, 3D printers, laser cutters, a vinyl plotter, photography studio, screen printing, power tool, and all sorts of other stuff:
On the second floor, there’s even a full-blown recording studio that you can reserve for a 3-hour session with your library card:
I love doing library gigs so much, because 1) I’m a former librarian and librarians are my people 2) I get inspired by all the amazing ways libraries are adapting themselves as resource centers for their communities.
As I’ve written before in my posts about how much I love my local library, library tourism, and my summer reading assignment, I think of the public library as one of the last spaces in this country where you can go and feel like a real citizen. You’re not being sold anything. You’re welcome to be who you are, or work on becoming what you want to be. The library is there for you.
Here I am speaking with Mayor Andy Berke in the wood-paneled auditorium. (It’s a bicentennial building, built in 1976.)
Here’s a bonus photo of Josh — he teaches marketing to culinary arts students — I loved how his tie matched the post-it notes that were packed all over his copy of Show Your Work! so I asked if I could take a picture.
(You also learn something every time you visit a library: one of the women in the signing line was named Tonette — a musical instrument I’d never heard of!)
Special thanks to Corinne Hill, Mary Jane Spehar, Andy Berke, and the Friends of the Chattanooga Library and the Chattanooga Airport for having me out. (If you’d like me to speak at your library, drop me a line!)
I have a new show called “Keep Telling Yourself It’s Art” opening in San Francisco at Mule Gallery on July 1st from 6-9 p.m. If you’re in the area, please stop by and hang out. (Here’s the invite on Facebook. And here’s how to get there.) If you can’t make the opening, the show runs until August 26.
UPDATE: Browse and buy the pieces from the show:
Some photos from the show over on Instagram.
The folks at Confab just posted video of my chalktalk based on Show Your Work! It’s my last talk of the year, the culmination of all the speaking I’ve done for the past eight months or so. It’s about 50 minutes long, there’s a drawing lesson at 8:14, and the real meat of the talk begins around 13:44. Enjoy!
Last weekend at the Texas Book Festival I had the pleasure of interviewing Joshua Wolf Shenk, the author of one of my favorite books of the year, Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs. I had a hunch that we’d have a lot to talk about, so I recorded our discussion and edited it down (liberally) to the post below. Enjoy.
AK: Let’s start out with The Lone Genius Myth.
JWS: I argue in the book that the lone genius is a mythical creature. Which is not to say that we don’t require solitude and it’s not to say that we might not take sole ownership over our work as you and I both do — we don’t have anybody else’s name on the covers of our books. Yet, there are very often characters offstage who are not acknowledged.
In some ways, I’m probably the worst person to teach blackout poetry. I’ve done it for so long, I don’t even really think about it any more. Making art and teaching art are two different skill sets, and a quick Google search for “blackout poetry lesson plans” shows that there’s a small army of English teachers already doing it better than me, anyways.
That’s not to say I don’t like teaching, it’s just that I’m never sure I’m any good at it.
I’ve done some workshops with a lot of instruction and timed activities, but those always seem just a little bit off. So, this weekend at the Texas Teen Book Festival, I found myself in an auditorium full of teens, and the festival folks had already set out newspaper and markers in front of them, so I just thought, “You know what? Forget it. I’m going to give them as little instruction as possible, and we’ll just see what happens.”
I told the story of how I started blacking out, showed a timelapse video of how I make one, read a few, then told them they should just go for it. I spoke for another 10 minutes, showed some more examples, then I asked if anybody wanted to read theirs.
This is always the moment where I kind of hold my breath and think, “Uh oh. This is gonna be bad if nobody reads.”
But these teens! They started lining up at the microphone. And they read their poems like it was nothing. And they were great. And they would’ve kept lining up and reading if we didn’t run out of time.
It’s easy for an old fart like me to get jaded about everything, especially my work. Doing that workshop was a jolt of energy. It reminded me of Patti Smith, quoted in the book Please Kill Me:
Through performance, I reach such states, in which my brain feels so open… if I can develop a communication with an audience, a bunch of people, when my brain is that big and receptive, imagine the energy and intelligence and all the things I can steal from them.
I stole a lot from everybody in that room. So thanks, y’all!
Last week I wrapped up the Show Your Work! tour with a packed homecoming at BookPeople in Austin, Texas. Here I am passing out some of my wife’s chocolate chip cookies beforehand:
My wife and I went out and celebrated after — 20 cities in two months made for a pretty hectic home life. Not that I’m complaining TOO much: there wasn’t ONE single dud on this tour. The turnouts were amazing. Thank you to everyone who came out.
If I didn’t come to your town…maybe next time! You can still get a signed copy of the book from BookPeople.
Minneapolis: Probably had a little too much fun. Hit up Nye’s, had breakfast at Hell’s Kitchen with my friend Chad Hagen (and once again with my buddy Hawk — great food), signed books at Magers and Quinn, saw the Hopper process show at the Walker and did an interview with Rain Taxi, visited Aesthetic Apparatus and got a test print, then Dan Ibarra took me to the Matisse show at the MIA, gave the keynote at Confab (really awesome conference), and then went record shopping with my friends and ended up signing at the fantastic Electric Fetus.