Austin Kleon

Austin Kleon

I recently read the book Steal Like an Artist by author Austin Kleon, and one of his chapters in particular has been on my mind frequently ever since.  You don't need to be an "official artist" to benefit from picking up this fun and succinct read.  We are all creative on some level, and this insight can be applied to any area you are passionate about in life.  Chapter 4 is titled, "Use your Hands."   It's general premise is the driving force behind my love for incorporating film and Polaroid prints into all my work.

Austin Kleon sites cartoonist Lynda Barry, ..." 'In the digital age, don't forget to use your digits!'  Your hands are the original digital devices.  Use them."  

Kleon starts with "Step Away From the Screen"  and goes on to say,

"While I love my computer, I think computers have robbed us of the feeling that we're actually making things.  Instead, we're just typing keys and clicking mouse buttons.  This is why so-called knowledge work seems so abstract.  The artist Stanley Donwood, who's made all the album artwork for the band Radiohead, says computers are alienating because they put a sheet of glass between you and whatever is happening.  'You never really get to touch anything that you're doing unless you print it out,' Donwood says.
Just watch someone at their computer.  They're so still, so immobile.  You don't need a scientific study (of which there are a few) to tell you that sitting in front of a computer all day is killing you, and killing your work.  We need to move, to feel like we're making something with our bodies, not just our heads.
Work that only comes from the head isn't any good.  Watch a great musician play a show.  Watch a great leader give a speech.  You'll see what I mean.
You need to find a way to bring your body into your work.  Our nerves aren't a one-way street - our bodies can our brains as much as our brains tell our bodies.  You that phrase, 'going through the motions?'  That's what's so great about creative work:  If we just start going through the motions, if we strum a guitar, or shuffle sticky notes around a conference table, or start kneading clay, the motion kickstarts our brain into thinking."

Don't get me wrong, I am not painting technology or digital art forms as negatives or less than, far from it!  But like anything else in life, it is about balance.  In my opinion, a huge part of the reason we are here is to experience everything we do, make, and learn on the physical level.  It is so easy for all of us to spend much of our time for work and play on or in front of a screen.  Think about it, when we aren't working, we are texting, reading, playing games, shopping even, all from our phones!  Though our rapidly expanding technology offers us so much convenience and advancement, we can't forget to create and incorporate tactile processes into what we do.  Trust me, it's important.


AuthorBriane Morse