The Creative Process

This is adapted from a Backer's Only update for my Kickstarter project Portrait, originally posted on June 4, 2012.

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I've been doing a lot of preparation and planning for my trip to Seattle - where my production partner Zach and I will be heading to film Portrait!

As much as this film will be about photography, the biggest focus will be on the creative process. What does it mean to be a creative and to chase your dreams? More importantly, how do you construct those dreams in reality and translate an internal inspiration into something others can enjoy? A lot of it comes down to design. Just as Apple designs an amazing product, a filmmaker designs a great film, or a photographer designs the picture hanging on your wall. It's years of practice, learning, and inspiration that make up various parts of the design process. 

I've been reading Frank Chimero's The Shape of Design to look at the different ways to approach the topic of design and creative process. From the book:

"First, design is imagining a future and working toward it with intelligence and cleverness. We use design to close the gap between the situation we have and the one we desire. Second, design is a practice built upon making things for other people. We are all on the road together."

I highly recommend buying his book. You can get the digital version for $10 or a hardcover for $30 here.

I've also revisited Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs. Steve believed in design and being a true artist with your work. When he was younger, he talked about getting older and looking to the future:

"Your thoughts construct patterns like scaffolding in your mind. You are really etching chemical patterns. In most cases, people get stuck in those patterns, just like grooves in a record, and they never get out of them."

He goes on to say:

"If you want to live your life in a creative way, as an artist, you have to not look back too much. You have to be willing to take whatever you've done and whoever you were and throw them away.
The more the outside world tries to reinforce an image of you, the harder it is to continue to be an artist, which is why a lot of times, artists have to say, "Bye. I have to go. I'm going crazy and I'm getting out of here." And they go and hibernate somewhere. Maybe later they re-emerge a little differently." 

I feel like both of these are fitting definitions for the creative process.

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You can watch Portrait here.


Reading List 3

Three months strong, this now feels like a real thing I need to keep up for the rest of the year. This month I focused more on books related to work, so a lot more non-fiction than usual.

Man V. Nature: Stories (Diane Cook) - I love this book so much, I'm taking breaks in between each short story so I don't finish reading it in a single night. I'm serious. Diane Cook is a truly wonderful writer. 

Art & Fear (David Bayles & Ted Orland) - Essential reading for everyone in the arts. This is the kind of book you highlight and reference all the time.

Kaleidoscope (Ray Bradbury) - This is actually the first Ray Bradbury story I've read. I'll be reading more. How much longer can every story I read be better than the last?

The Shape of Design (Frank Chimero) - Although I'm not a designer, I find myself fascinated by the process and thinking of design and how it relates to art as a whole. Chimero is full of knowledge that I can't wait to devour.

The Fortune Cookie Principle (Bernadette Jiwa) - A few good insights buried in what otherwise reads like Online Business Textbook 101. I wish it had cut more than surface deep on one of its dozens of anecdotes.

The War of Art (Steven Pressfield) - Had I read this book five years ago, it may have been life-changing. Still, I can think of a half a dozen people that should read this book right away. The first section feels much stronger than the rest. Something about the writing just makes it feel much older than it is.

Start with Why (Simon Sinek) - This is a fine book, but I skimmed some pages and didn't feel like I missed anything. Comparing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to brands felt a little crass. Sinek's TED talk on the subject is ultimately much more powerful. Or this Steve Jobs Q&A response from 1997 displays the thinking behind that theory.

Currently reading

Man V. Nature: Stories (Cook)

Becoming Steve Jobs (Brent Schlender & Rick Tetzeli)


One / Two


Art is not - and should never be - all things to all people. Every picture has a unique lens through which the photographer presses her shutter-release button. Every novel has a different set of experiences the writer brings as he sits down in front of his computer or with pencil and paper.

There will always be margins. Gaps in coverage. Pieces of the conversation left out intentionally or unintentionally.

Art should consider all people, because art is about people and our expression. But it doesn't need to represent, or speak for, or even speak to, all people.

Art is honest. Art is raw. It makes you feel, makes you think, makes you cry, makes you angry. But some art may not affect you personally. And that's ok.