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

Posts tagged "work"

Apr 20, 2014

Letter from Sol Lewitt to Eva Hesse, April 14, 1965

Hesse had written to her friend Lewitt about being blocked. My favorite parts from what Lewitt wrote back:

Try and tickle something inside you, your “weird humor.” You belong in the most secret part of you. Don’t worry about cool, make your own uncool. Make your own, your own world… You must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. Then you will be able to DO…

Try to do some BAD work—the worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let everything go to hell—you are not responsible for the world—you are only responsible for your work—so DO IT.

In other words: MAKE BAD ART.

You can read the whole letter in this PDF.

The letter is also included in Shaun Usher’s great collection Letters Of Note, coming out in the states in May. (Lucky me, I have a dee-lux UK edition.)

Apr 11, 2014
There’s about a million miles between saying ‘I have no idea what I’m doing,’ and ‘I’m making it up as I go.’

Apr 05, 2014
You have to learn to be unafraid when you’re a nobody, because you’re going to be really fucking afraid when you’re a somebody and all the lights are on you.

Feb 27, 2014

Harold Ramis’s advice to young artists

via Mother Jones > @janetpierson:

You have to live your life with a certain blind confidence that if it’s your destiny to succeed at these things, it will happen, if you just continue to follow a straight path, to do you work as conscientiously and as creatively as you can, and to just stay open to all opportunity and experience. There’s a performing motto at Second City…to say yes instead of no. It’s actually an improvisational rule…It’s about supporting the other person. And the corollary to that is if you concentrate on making other people look good, then we all have the potential to look good. If you’re just worried about yourself—How am I doing? How am I doing?—which is kind of a refrain in Hollywood, you know, people are desperately trying to make their careers in isolation, independent of everyone around them.

And I’ve always found that my career happened as a result of a tremendous synergy of all the talented people I’ve worked with, all helping each other, all connecting, and reconnecting in different combinations. So…identify talented people around you and then instead of going into competition with them, or trying to wipe them out, make alliances, make creative friendships that allow you and your friends to grow together, because someday your friend is going to be sitting across a desk from you running a movie studio.

Ramis is quoted in the “Stand Next To The Talent” section of Steal Like An Artist.

Feb 20, 2014


From Alexis Madrigal’s wonderful daily newsletter, “5 Intriguing Things” (#69):

Chronocyclegraphs were a technique used by early 20th century efficiency experts Frank and Lillian Gilbreth to assess the motions of workers. They attached bulbs to people’s hands and took long exposures. This is a surgeon sewing.

"The motion study method of attack considers the work to be done as a demand for certain motions, and the proposed worker as a supply of certain motions…

By the use of the scientific method of analysis, measurement and synthesis we arrive at the method of least waste for performing the work. Through special teaching devices we then transfer the selected elements of skill and experience, in a new synthesized cycle of least waste, to workers who have never had that all around, non-guided experience or its slowly acquired skill. Not only are the methods transferred more efficiently but there is saving of time and effort to both teacher and learner, as is satisfactorily shown by learning curves of many past performances on widely varied types of work.”

See also: Picasso drawing with light.

Feb 11, 2014
[Working] is about a search, too, for daily meaning as well as daily bread, for recognition as well as cash, for astonishment rather than torpor; in short, for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying.
— Studs Terkel, Working

Dec 05, 2013
“Life goes on. Every day is a new deal. Keep working and maybe something will turn up.”
—Harvey Pekar, American Splendor #7 (via)

“Life goes on. Every day is a new deal. Keep working and maybe something will turn up.” —Harvey Pekar, American Splendor #7 (via)

Nov 01, 2013

Lou Reed & John Cale, “Work,” Songs For Drella

No matter what I did it never seemed enough
he said I was lazy, I said I was young
He said, “How many songs did you write?”
I’d written zero, I’d lied and said, “Ten.”

"You won’t be young forever
You should have written fifteen”
It’s work

(Source: youtube.com)

Oct 27, 2013
Writing beats baling hay or going door-to-door for a living, but it’s still shockingly unenjoyable work.

Oct 08, 2013

Mike Monteiro: “You are responsible for the work that you put into the world.”

Webstock ‘13: Mike Monteiro - How Designers Destroyed the World

You are directly responsible for what you put into the world. Yet every day designers all over the world work on projects without giving any thought or consideration to the impact that work has on the world around them. This needs to change.

Set aside 50 minutes to watch this really important talk by my friend Mike Monteiro (@mike_FTW). It’s aimed at designers, but it applies to all of us.

Here’s an excerpt that Mike quotes from Victor Papanek’s Design For The Real World:

There are professions more harmful than industrial design, but only a very few of them. And possibly only one profession is phonier. Advertising design, in persuading people to buy things they don’t need, with money they don’t have, in order to impress others who don’t care, is probably the phoniest field in existence today. Industrial design, by concocting the tawdry idiocies hawked by advertisers, comes a close second. Never before in history have grown men sat down and seriously designed electric hairbrushes, rhinestone-covered file boxes, and mink carpeting for bathrooms, and then drawn up elaborate plans to make and sell these gadgets to millions of people. Before (in the ‘good old days’), if a person liked killing people, he had to become a general, purchase a coal-mine, or else study nuclear physics. Today, industrial design has put murder on a mass-production basis. By designing criminally unsafe automobiles that kill or maim nearly one million people around the world each year, by creating whole new species of permanent garbage to clutter up the landscape, and by choosing materials and processes that pollute the air we breathe, designers have become a dangerous breed. And the skills needed in these activities are taught carefully to young people.

In an age of mass production when everything must be planned and designed, design has become the most powerful tool with which man shapes his tools and environments (and, by extension, society and himself). This demands high social and moral responsibility from the designer. It also demands greater understanding of the people by those who practise design and more insight into the design process by the public.

Great, great talk. I also highly recommend Mike’s book, Design is a Job.

Filed under: Mike Monteiro

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