Art is theft

This is a gorgeous short film by Daniel Cordero. It outlines the idea that creativity comes from the artists and art that inspire us – that we ‘steal’ it to make something new.

Creation is not inspired by one man, woman or one thing. We are influenced by our daily fair, diverse artists etc. I have admired various influential artists in my life, such as Picasso, Dali and Warhol. With this film, I attempted to convey an approach to the creative process and express how all artists, at any level, “steal” the art and the very soul of other artists, while forming their “original” pieces.

Of course, this is the key theme in Austin Kleon’s ace book, Steal Like an Artist, which I generally reread every few months and dip into more often than that.

The $100 Startup

I’m trying to make sure I read more in 2017. One way of doing that is to share some short thoughts about the books I get through here on the site. Let’s get cracking.

The $100 Startup is both a book and the kind of thing that sounds really rather appealing. Lots of people want to start their own business and the internet has given us a way of doing it on the cheap. All you need is a product that people want and the ability to sell it to them.

That’s the theory, anyway. The $100 Startup is full of case studies to prove it. Too many case studies, in fact. Every chapter is packed with real examples that describe (in detail, lots of detail) how other people have turned a good idea into a full-time business.

After a while, the case studies become a pain. I found myself wanting the book to cut to the chase and offer some practical advice. Because when it does, The $100 Startup is really quite interesting and useful. The section on launching a product was particularly handy, as was the bits on finance.

So yes, there is useful stuff in here, but like most of these ‘anyone can do it’ books, most of it could be said in a handful of blog posts. In fact, if you’ve already read around the subject of setting up a business around a simple idea that costs very little, I’m not sure there is much new for you.

And as it turns out, the best bits are free on The $100 Startup’s very own website too.

Virginia Woolf on why writing isn’t a craft

This is the only surviving recording of Virginia Woolf. She’s reciting the opening of an essay on how to read literature, but there’s some incredible stuff on writing too. It’s a fascinating insight.

I quite liked this pointed section:

“Think what it would mean if you could teach, or if you could learn, the art of writing. Why, every book, every newspaper you pick up would tell the truth, or would create beauty. But there is, it would appear, some obstacle in the way, some hindrance to the teaching of words. For though at this moment at least a hundred professors are lecturing the literature of the past, at least a thousand critics are reviewing literature of the present, and hundreds upon hundreds of young men and women are passing examinations in English literature with the utmost credit. Still, do we write better, do we read better, than 400 years ago, when we were unlectured, uncriticised, untaught?”

With all the fuss over the merits (or otherwise) of post-graduate writing courses, this could have been written and spoken today. Zing!

How to build a fictional world

This is a great TED-Ed video by Kate Messner. And this is the important bit:

“Just like real life, fictional worlds operate consistently within a spectrum of physical and societal rules. That’s what makes these worlds believable, comprehensible and worth exploring.”

It doesn’t really matter what you write, whether it’s fantasy, science fiction, erotica or good old literary fiction. The world you create can be anywhere. It can feature whoever and whatever you want, but it must be consistent. It must have its own logic. It must be true to itself.

How Ricky Gervais learned to write

There are two things I like about this clip of Ricky Gervais talking about the writing advice he received at school.

First, the larking about at the start and suggestion that no one writer’s process is any more interesting or important than any other’s. Second, that there is truth in the everyday – the boring:

“Being honest is what counts. Trying to make the ordinary extraordinary. It’s your job as a creator or director to make an audience as excited and fascinated about a subject as you are. And real life does that.”

You might also want to take a look at Gervais talking about his approach to comedy.