Ian MacKaye: “We want our own sys­tem and you can’t stop us from build­ing it”

From a recent interview with Ian MacKaye linked below:

I was say­ing to you ear­lier that I think of artists and mu­si­cians and film­mak­ers and writ­ers as trans­la­tors. This is some­thing that I got to think­ing about: “What the fuck are these peo­ple do­ing?” And I think of them as trans­la­tors. In other words, that some­body hears some­thing and they are try­ing to ex­plain to other peo­ple, us­ing that medium, what is it that they are hear­ing. Vi­sual artists see some­thing, they see the world in a way and then they are try­ing to show peo­ple what it is that they’re see­ing. It’s lit­er­ally a trans­la­tion. That was re­ally help­ful for me in terms of meet­ing peo­ple who I felt like, “well this per­son is in­ter­est­ing to me be­cause the rea­son they are do­ing this is that they don’t have a choice in the mat­ter.” And maybe that’s what you’re talk­ing about. Like, I think that some­times, whether or not they ad­dress it in sa­tanic wor­ship, or even peo­ple who are just like, “I wanna make money,” some­times there is noth­ing else for them to do. They have to do that. Peo­ple say to me, “What is your fa­vorite kind of mu­sic, what do you like to lis­ten to?” And I al­ways say, “my fa­vorite kind of mu­sic is the mu­sic made by peo­ple who don’t have a choice in the mat­ter.” So I can lis­ten to any­thing… it could be punk or blues or what­ever. I just want it to feel like the per­son who’s mak­ing that mu­sic heard some­thing and is say­ing, “this is what I’m hear­ing.” It’s the same way with any kind of vi­sual stuff. I’m not par­tic­u­larly well ed­u­cated about vi­sual art, I don’t have a de­gree in art his­tory so just don’t know a lot of that stuff, but oc­ca­sion­ally I’ll see some­thing and in my mind, I’ll be like, “Wow, some­thing is go­ing on here that it re­ally com­pels me.” And then if I read about it and find out that per­son saw some­thing, they are like, “Here’s what I saw! Here’s what I fuckin saw!” That’s what I want to feel when I look at things, that’s what I want to feel when I hear things. That is a form of in­de­pen­dence, right?

Source: Ian MacKaye and Brandon Stosuy on independence, creativity, and The Creative Independent – The Creative Independent

#WhatILearned: The Hustle Economy

The Hustle Economy, edited by Jason Oberholtzer and illustrated by Jessica Hagy, is an anthology of insights and advice for creative entrepreneurs by creative entrepreneurs, representing a wide spectrum of artists and makers.

If you believe, as I do, that we’re entering a new era of work, freed from the factory, yet even more connected by the internet, and you do creative work of any kind, then it’s helpful to have a guide…and this is a good start.

The whole book is great, but here are a few of my favorite insights:

Nick Douglas

  • Just make good work and put it out there
  • Over time, a creator convinces people that their work is consistently good, enough so that their next piece of work will be worth betting on
  • It’s really rewarding when you can help people who are a little behind you in their career. Not selfishly, not to “earn points,” but because you genuinely feel they deserve more opportunities than they have right now”
  • Pick your collaborators by their talent, creative ambition, and ability to work with others

Jason Oberholtzer

  • The typical journey is part willingness to get by with less at times, part luck, and part grace – in different proportions for different people
  • Being involved in the hustle isn’t about arriving anywhere – it’s about being “in the mix”
  • When you aren’t focused in one area, building specific, marketable experience and skill, you are cultivating another broader skill: getting good at getting good at things
  • …embrace that which motivates you to action rather than that which taxes your energy so much that its toxic energy reaches into other areas
  • Invest in yourself in concrete ways…learn new tangible skills

Jessica Hagy

  • You’re always still learning
  • Make room for the next bigger, better thing
  • Surrender is not an option
  • Every chore can be a creative exercise
  • Just. Keep. Going

A few tips:

  • Spend at least 15 minutes making something new today
  • Figure out a natural first starting point. Want to write a book? Write a chapter.
  • Now is the time to articulate what you want
  • Reach out to others, and reply with generosity when others reach out to you
  • Start working on something that is worth working on

It’s a collection intended to inspire. And it’s filled with Jessica Hagy’s illustrations, which are great for opening your mind to a different way of thinking about work. I hope you check it out and it gives you a kick in the ass to bring something new into the world.

“Every day of your life is an opportunity to create”

A good reminder:

The problem is that when we go for years (or decades) without flexing our creative muscles, they atrophy until, on a core level (even subconsciously) we stop believing that it’s even possible for us to create.

You can create change in yourself by building better habits. You can create change for others by pulling them up when they’re down and giving them opportunities. And you can create change in the world by leaving something behind that’s uniquely yours.

So, it doesn’t really matter if you feel “ready” or if you’re “sure” of yourself. Just ship the damn thing.

via Just Start Doing Whatever It Is You Can’t Stop Thinking About

“If you want to come up with old solutions, read news. If you are looking for new solutions, don’t.”

I struggle with this constantly: wanting to be an informed citizen versus spending too much time consuming news.

“I don’t know a single truly creative mind who is a news junkie — not a writer, not a composer, mathematician, physician, scientist, musician, designer, architect or painter. On the other hand, I know a bunch of viciously uncreative minds who consume news like drugs. If you want to come up with old solutions, read news. If you are looking for new solutions, don’t.”

Source: Is There Any Reason to Keep Up with the News? | The Art of Manliness

Werner Herzog: “There is nothing wrong with hardships and obstacles, but everything wrong with not trying”

Great post from Brain Pickings on Werner Herzog’s approach to work and art (emphasis mine):

I did as much as possible myself; it was an article of faith, a matter of simple human decency to do the dirty work as long as I could… Three things — a phone, computer and car — are all you need to produce films. Even today I still do most things myself. Although at times it would be good if I had more support, I would rather put the money up on the screen instead of adding people to the payroll.

Indeed, having grown up without money and earned every penny himself, Herzog considers this self-reliance closely intertwined with the question of financial struggle — a circumstance he always refused to mistake for a fatal roadblock to the creative drive. His wisdom on the subject extends beyond film and applies just as perceptively to almost any field of endeavor in today’s creative landscape:

The best advice I can offer to those heading into the world of film is not to wait for the system to finance your projects and for others to decide your fate. If you can’t afford to make a million-dollar film, raise $10,000 and produce it yourself. That’s all you need to make a feature film these days. Beware of useless, bottom-rung secretarial jobs in film-production companies. Instead, so long as you are able-bodied, head out to where the real world is. Roll up your sleeves and work as a bouncer in a sex club or a warden in a lunatic asylum or a machine operator in a slaughterhouse. Drive a taxi for six months and you’ll have enough money to make a film. Walk on foot, learn languages and a craft or trade that has nothing to do with cinema. Filmmaking — like great literature — must have experience of life at its foundation. Read Conrad or Hemingway and you can tell how much real life is in those books. A lot of what you see in my films isn’t invention; it’s very much life itself, my own life. If you have an image in your head, hold on to it because — as remote as it might seem — at some point you might be able to use it in a film. I have always sought to transform my own experiences and fantasies into cinema.

He later revisits the subject even more pointedly:

A natural component of filmmaking is the struggle to find money. It has been an uphill battle my entire working life… If you want to make a film, go make it. I can’t tell you the number of times I have started shooting a film knowing I didn’t have the money to finish it. I meet people everywhere who complain about money; it’s the ingrained nature of too many filmmakers. But it should be clear to everyone that money has always had certain explicit qualities: it’s stupid and cowardly, slow and unimaginative. The circumstances of funding never just appear; you have to create them yourself, then manipulate them for your own ends. This is the very nature and daily toil of filmmaking. If your project has real substance, ultimately the money will follow you like a common cur in the street with its tail between its legs. There is a German proverb: “Der Teufel scheisst immer auf den grössten Haufen” [“The Devil always shits on the biggest heap”]. So start heaping and have faith. Every time you make a film you should be prepared to descend into Hell and wrestle it from the claws of the Devil himself. Prepare yourself: there is never a day without a sucker punch. At the same time, be pragmatic and learn how to develop an understanding of when to abandon an idea. Follow your dreams no matter what, but reconsider if they can’t be realized in certain situations. A project can become a cul-de-sac and your life might slip through your fingers in pursuit of something that can never be realized. Know when to walk away.

Source: Werner Herzog on Creativity, Self-Reliance, Making a Living of What You Love, and How to Turn Your Ideas Into Reality – Brain Pickings