I was delighted that the Corita Art Center asked me to talk about Corita Kent and the impact that her art has had on my work. (She was a kind of guardian spirit for Keep Going: I wrote about her in two separate chapters.) In this video I talk about her unique way of looking at the world, her terrific book with Jan Steward, Learning By Heart, her advice to borrow a kid, and the way she thought creativity has seasons:
Here’s a video my friend Dan Roam and I recorded for his Napkin Academy about how to stay creative in good times and bad. Dan is so good at what he does — I remember seeing him give a presentation at SXSW five years ago and 20 minutes later everybody in the room wanted to buy a copy of Show & Tell. We always have fun, and I’m already looking forward to the next time.
On acknowledging the role of luck:
Anyone who has any kind of audience and doesn’t acknowledge luck is deluding themselves. Of course we make moves that put us in the right place at the right time, but to not acknowledge luck just seems to me a great disservice to everyone.
On my books as bathroom reads:
“When someone tells me that they keep my books on the back of the commode, that is a great compliment to me, actually—because that’s where people read.”
On having parents like Milton Glaser’s:
“I had a mother who told me I could do anything, and a father who said, ‘Prove it.’” That’s the best school there was.”
On finishing a project:
“The great pain of creative work is that once the thing is done, it’s dead to you. I mean, execution is literally like an execution.”
Because I believe in credit where credit is due, there’s one little thing I want to clear up. There’s a really fun surprise at a certain point in the conversation, a moment so good that I hate to ruin it. Though I’ve been a fan of Debbie’s work for a long time, it was actually Mary Doria Russell’s 1999 commencement speech at Laurel School that inspired my wife.
The setting was a little different than what we’re both used to: We spoke in the University Temple United Methodist Church, across the street from the University Book Store.
Here’s a photo of the EXIT signs I mention during the talk:
I grew up in a Methodist church, so it brought back all sorts of feelings for me. Singing in the choir. Half-listening to sermons while reading the Bible. Lighting candles on the altar. Meeting my best friend while plonking on an old piano in Sunday school.
I think the setting gave this conversation a different tone than our others. Maybe more pensive. I don’t know.
Here’s our first conversation, from 2013:
Here’s us in 2014, riding around in the back of a car at SXSW:
And here’s our third conversation, from 2016:
Chase always makes it fun. My many thanks to him, his team, the University Book Store, and the great audience who turned out.
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.
This interview with the Adobe Make It folks was posted today, but it was filmed nine months ago, last August, which makes it odd for me to watch now, because I had no clue I was already working on the book I’m working on now. When Paul asks me what’s next, I say something about my kids and thinking about what creative people can learn from the way kids play. So funny. A lot can happen in 9 months. Whole humans can be conceived and born. Books, too…
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!
Chase is one of my favorite interviewers, and we always have a good time.
- Documenting your process helps your progress.
Keeping track of what you’ve done helps you better see where you’ve been, where you are, and where you’re headed. It’s also a great way to hold yourself accountable — if you dedicate yourself to sharing a tiny bit of your process every day, you’re forced to actually do the work you should be doing.
- Sharing your process reaps the benefits of self-promotion without the icky feelings.
People are often just as interested in how you work as much as the work itself. By sharing your process, you invite people to not only get to know your work, but get to know you — and that can lead to new clients, new projects, and all sorts of other opportunities.
- Building an audience for what you do creates a valuable feedback loop.
Christopher Hitchens said the best thing about putting out a book is that it’s a “free education that goes on for a lifetime.” As you gain fans and followers by sharing your work, they will, in turn, share with you. Even when the feedback is bad, it can lead you down new paths.
That’s a short version of the why. The book will teach you how.