Here’s video of a 40-minute keynote I gave during the Scratch Conference at MIT’s Media Lab last month. It was one of the most enjoyable talks I’ve given — it’s a kind of mashup of my books, and it was received by a great room full of enthusiastic people. (Followed by a Q&A with the wonderful Karen Brennan.) If you’re interested in having me speak at your event, check out my speaking page.
A few weeks ago I gave a new talk at Bond in San Francisco. It’s a list of 10 things that have helped me stay creative in such chaotic times:
- Every day is Groundhog Day
- Build a bliss station
- Forget the noun, do the verb
- Make gifts
- The ordinary + extra attention = the extraordinary
- Art is for life (not the other way around)
- You are allowed to change your mind
- When in doubt, tidy up
- The demons hate fresh air
- Spend time on something that will outlast them
I really loved giving this talk. (And, as I’ve hinted, it is a preview of my next book.) If you’ve been struggling too, hopefully you’ll find something helpful in it. Please share it with anybody you think could use it. The full video is below.
UPDATE: I’ve adapted “How To Keep Going” into a book!
If you didn’t get to see me on tour, here’s video of the 30-minute talk I gave about the notebooks and journals that influenced The Steal Like An Artist Journal, filmed during the last stop of the tour at BookPeople in Austin, Texas.
A couple of links I mention in the talk:
- Interview with Mitch Hedberg’s widow, comedian Lynn Shawcroft
- Gary Panter on keeping a sketchbook
- Roger Ebert on drawing in a sketchbook
- A lot of slides come from the “notebooks” tag on my tumblr
I was too sick then to remember much of it, and too lazy now to write much about it, so I’ll let Omar Gallaga recap:
In his keynote presentation on Friday, local author and artist Austin Kleon tackled the big themes: death, creativity and, most importantly, “Has SXSW gotten too big? Is it over?” (…) In tackling the subject of SXSW’s growth, Kleon suggested making more human connections, sharing instead of self-promoting all the time… he suggested SXSW attendees stop chasing the new, next big thing and think about longevity, the creative work that will stand the test of time.
Here’s the video:
Here are sketchnotes of the talk by Eva-Lotta Lamm:
Thanks to Shawn O’Keefe and the SXSW gang for giving me the stage.
Photo above by Rodolfo Gonzalez
A few weeks ago I flew up to Seattle to film an interview with photographer Chase Jarvis. We talked a lot about my books (including the new one) and art and creativity in general. We also took a lot of questions from the live and online audience. The resulting video is sort of a 90-minute primer for my work. It’s probably better than any talk I’ve given.
I’m trying to figure out what it is about the Q&A format that puts me so much more at ease when speaking to an audience, and how to bring some of that ease into my talks. Chase made a joke at one point that I’m like a machine for giving 140-character ready answers. I joked back, “I’m a writer. Putting sentences together is my job.”
But it’s something more than that—I have a terrible memory for names and events and everyday things that happen in my life (which is why I need my logbook), but when I’m faced with a question from someone, it’s like the RAM in my brain boots right up and I can immediately access this database of quotes and lines from stuff I’ve read and written. I’m reading Temple Grandin’s Thinking In Pictures, and in the first chapter, she describes being able to access a library of images in her head like a computer. When she’s faced with a design problem, she can grab these images and try them in difference combinations in order to come up with a solution.
To me, a question is a kind of problem to solve, or maybe more like a prompt. Sometimes I do feel like I’m flipping through my blog tags and tweets and book sentences in these Q&A sessions, but I’m also making up new combinations on the fly—thinking on my feet. However: I’m making the thinking up on the fly, and most of what I say I don’t even remember later! This is why I try to record all of my Q&A sessions on tour: you never know what tossed off thought is going to become a new piece of writing. For example, one of Chase’s fans transcribed this line in his blog comments:
That’s the thing you have to understand about the whole process of art (or the work that we do) – you’re only half of the equation. It’s an interaction between you and the person who’s going to experience the work. The person who’s going to experience the work is bringing just as much to it and is just as important as you are.
I don’t even remember saying that!
Anyways, thanks to Chase and his team for being such great hosts. Seattle was really beautiful, and I hope we can swing back for the next book tour. If you ever get a chance to take the Coach Starlight from Seattle to Portland — do it! So beautiful. Some photos and video from the ride below: