A scrapbook of stuff I'm reading / looking at / listening to / thinking about...

Posts tagged "office hours"

May 30, 2014

Office hours closed.

Thanks for the questions. You can read them all here.

If you haven’t yet, check out my books.

And if you’re in Austin, I’m talking at BookPeople tonight at 7PM!

Who are you most inspired by at the moment?

Right now, I’m inspired by anyone with a career longer than, say, 20 years, who still manages to produce decent work. In this culture we celebrate the fast risers, the startups, the “young guns,” but I’m more impressed by people with a couple of decades under their belt. How do you keep going? I’m thirty years old and I’m already tired.

(I talked about this more at length in my SXSW keynote.)

Do you still keep separate the analog and digital part of your office? If so, have you made any changes in order to obtain more efficiency out of it? Thank you Austin, have a good day.

Yep! Analog desk looks like this. And the digital desk looks like this.

The only improvement I can think of is that they’re physically further apart now (my garage studio is much bigger than my old office) so there’s even more of a transition between them…

What are you afraid of? Do you think art can come from fear?

I’m terrified of the deep sea. Terrified

Can art come from fear? Sure. I mean, why not? Like, “Shit! I’m afraid I won’t make rent this month. Better make some art…”

If you were teaching a class to a group of college freshmen who are mostly environmental science and hospitality students, what advice would you give them?

I have the same advice for all students: Go into as little debt as possible, because that will give you more options when you graduate. Get the education you need for as cheap as you can get it. Spend as much time in the library as you can and read as much as you can. Soak it up.

You used to do visual note taking, right? Any advice for people that are curious about getting into it or thoughts on how it's being done now (I.e. Is it a passing trend?)?

Yeah. (In case people don’t know what visual notetaking is, I posted some of my own notes from over the years.)

I started drawing notes in 2006 when I stumbled onto graphic facilitation. I’d draw at lectures and concerts, I’d draw while reading, sometimes I’d even draw during movies.

In 2010, my friends and I did a SXSW panel about visual note-taking, and then they really took off. (There are a ton of people doing it now, just google.) Two people on that panel put out books on the subject: Mike Rohde’s The Sketchnote Handbook, and Sunni Brown’s The Doodle Revolution. Those are both definitely worth checking out.

My personal favorite books on “drawing for non-drawers” are Dan Roam’s Back Of The Napkin and Ed Emberley’s Make A World.

My advice to folks starting out: just have fun with it. Don’t worry about whether it’s good enough to share — the best notes I did, I was just having fun, seeing how the ideas spread out in space.

I did visual notetaking professionally for a while, and I know people who run really lucrative businesses doing it for big companies, but it was always stressful for me (drawing with the meter running sometimes turns into a performance rather than a natural exploration of ideas) and at a certain point I realized I didn’t want to draw other people’s ideas, I wanted to draw my own.

Favorite kids books?

Do you have any ideas for how show your work for those who don't create physical things ie. Theatre actors?

It’s weird that you don’t think theatre is a created, physical thing! There’s the stage, the props, the actors, the audience…

Off the top of my head: Start an Instagram account and take behind-the-scenes photos as you produce the show. Shoot video of little mini bits of rehearsals. Shoot two actors rehearsing dialogue in front of the camera. Etc.

I’m sure there’s a troupe out there that does this well. Google around.

What materials, specifically, do you use when making blackouts? What brand of sharpies, what picture/scanning app, etc etc.

The New York Times, a Sharpie (fine point), and a Marks-A-Lot chisel tip, usually. Sometimes I use a dry erase marker and an overhead transparency before I do any blacking out. All just shitty office supplies you can buy at Target or wherever.

For posting, I just take a photo on my iPhone, adjust the levels a bit, and post it to Instagram. For prints and archiving, I use an ancient Epson scanner and Photoshop. 

Nothing fancy.

Would you be interested in mentoring young artists? More so than you already have with your public writing and thoughts? I have been plotting, for a while now, how I would approach you with this. Maybe it's as simple as "asking you anything"?

I was lucky and got some really good teachers coming up, but most of my real mentors were Mentors From Afar. Here’s Seth Godin:

I think that heroes are more important than mentors. A hero is somebody who you can emulate; somebody who raises the bar for you. Heroism scales, so one person can be a hero for a lot of people. Mentoring is over-rated in that there’s this myth that they will pick you, cover for you when you make mistakes, encourage you, and be at your side until you become your true, best self. There are very few of those relationships in the world.

Emphasis mine. Scale is a big problem. I can’t even answer all my email, let alone take on mentees or interns or whatever. If I did, I’d have no time to actually make the stuff that makes you want me as a mentor, you know?

Here’s a bit from Show Your Work:

As a human being, you have a finite amount of time and attention. At some point, you have to switch from saying “yes” a lot to saying “no” a lot. “The biggest problem of success is that the world conspires to stop you doing the thing that you do, because you are successful,” writes author Neil Gaiman. “There was a day when I looked up and realised that I had become someone who professionally replied to email, and who wrote as a hobby. I started answering fewer emails, and was relieved to find I was writing much more.”

I find myself in the weird position now where I get way more email from people than I could ever answer and still do everything I need to do. The way I get over my guilt about not answering email is to hold office hours. Once a month, I make myself available so that anybody can ask me anything on my website, and I try to give thoughtful answers that I then post so anyone can see.

You just have to be as generous as you can, but selfish enough to get your work done. 

Trying my best…

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