Post Two: Sun Sep 18

Today I read Zach Lieberman’s “Lessons for Students” piece on Medium**. A very enjoyable read. My four takeaways:

1. “I always try to encourage students to remember that small, honest things can win. We don’t always need a million dollar crazy project, but tiny acts of expression and intervention.”

That’s inspiring for novice coder/artist to hear. I’ve given up on more projects than I can count because the thought, “this isn’t going to be as good as [blank]”. As I’m maturing, I’m realizing that finishing work is part of the journey. Finishing the work is sometimes where you will learn the most. Also, you might be surprised at the positive feedback you get from presenting your work - which wouldn’t have happened if you’d quit.

2. “Lesson Six: Artistic practice is research, take that obligation seriously. You are a researcher.”

A good mindset for making art. Research takes time and doesn’t always produce results right away, but it is methodical and works toward understanding a particular question(or set of questions). Earlier in the piece, Zach titles the first lesson, “lesson one: everything is about curiosity”. I think that’s true - curiosity is everything: it’s the fuel, the fire, the reason for even getting out of bed in the morning.

I’d add to that and say that diligence, focus, and persistence are the three pillars(god, what are these metaphors) that curiosity rests upon. Maybe a better metaphor is that they are curiosity’s handmaidens(sounds kind of… patriarchal) or valets(better? - “helpers” seems too vague).

Here’s some pseudo-math I made up on the spot:

curiosity * (focus + diligence + persistence) = focused research over a period of time = a finished work, or body of work.

I think each person’s curiosity is like their own child. You’ve got to teach it good habits. If you’re lax, it will be undisciplined and you’ll never finish anything. If you’re too severe, it will be inhibited and you may finish work but largely it will be on principle and not with the love that most great pieces of art seem to come from.

3. “Lesson Seven: Everything operates at a time scale you don’t know. You are a farmer.”

This was a revelation. It makes so much sense and yet, I’m still trying to wrap my head around it.

It makes me think that mentorship is especially valuable in this respect. Mentors have been there, done that and can advise those setting off into the hero’s journey of their own project exactly what talismans to carry and how to defeat that monster that dwells near the border of the enchanted forest.

It seems that the older I get, the more valuable time becomes. It’s often that I don’t embark on a project because I have no idea how much time it will take, especially when most work I’ve done has almost always taken longer than initially anticipated.

The concept of a project’s project “time scale” is huge. I will be thinking about this idea for a long time. I can already tell.

4. “One of the best things you can do as a student is find and surround yourself with people who are supportive, understanding and help you know your own value. I think that is a crucial part of success.”

From “Lesson Eight: Find your team”.

Super important. At first read, I read this more as, “find the right collaborators to be successful”, but I’ve realized the real sentiment in the above statement is about having people in your life who are there to talk when you need to talk. It may be as simple as that.

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Being an artist can be lonely. I have old friends and relatives who I know are almost always down to Skype or talk on the phone and I find this to be a lifeline. As a freelancer, I’m mostly working at home by myself and I find these relationships necessary for maintaining sanity.

Human beings need each other. To survive, to thrive, to laugh, to remember, to celebrate, to mourn.

This could be it’s own post: “ ‘Finding Your Team’: As an Artist”.

I think it’s not just about finding them but about taking care of them too. Relationships are like plants, maybe? They need to be taken care of, nourished, paid attention to.

Long post, kinda. But I suppose that lists and musings are less challenging to write, than say, a more descriptive piece about an experience.

Going to read some more today, work on a Processing sketch, and continue to fumble around with Arduino examples.

I’ve also started to learn the basics of Open Frameworks.

AND learn a little bit of python and maybe experiment with some generative poetry too.

I also need to start working on my freecodecamp stuff too. I’ve been focusing on paid video editing work and learning stuff for SFPC and I need to get back to learning those employable web dev skills!

It’s not my ideal job but I like the idea of having full-stack dev skills. I think it will be useful in an art + code context.

I also need to finish my audiobook about film production.

I also need to clone myself several times to get all of this done. Ha!

Written on September 18, 2016