Love and War

King of your realm? Everything in its place? You will inevitably receive a challenge to let the spirits of War or Love come in through the front door. Accept the challenge and then everything changes. You have a choice to let them in or not. To stay where you are, or to take on the responsibility.

Years ago we let a dog through the door. A long haired mutt called “Trumpet” – Hair and damp spots grew in the realm. We fed him, changed his name, took him to school, gave him haircuts and a bed of his own.

Other spirits heard our doors were open and started to arrive in different forms. We let in more dogs, fish, grownups and finally children.

If you let them in, Love and War can take over the realm. This is not ideal and can lead to eternal battles that will burn the realm to the ground leaving nothing but scorched earth. So what to do? It is tempting to enforce discipline on the spirits no matter what. To shout and push them around. This works to a point, but the realm loses something in the process so too much discipline and fear will hurt the realm. Once upon a time we shouted and ordered spirits around for three whole days and the realm turned grey. No more color was left. It was as if the realm was sick with a cancer.

Instead we recommend you provide a stage in the realm for Love and War to play out their fantasies. This stage needs to be thought out to a degree, but really you just need a snug place to sit, some open space as a stage with sunlight to light up the spirits, and some clean air. Maybe a bit of music in the background for atmosphere. Once the stage is set, sit back and watch for the magic. Note that this can be messy and cleaning up after a performance will be up to you, but pay attention when the play is on because the magic is oh so beautiful. Carry a glass jar to capture some of the magic if you can. Then you can hang the jar on a piece of string and let the children sleep easy under its light.

This will come with practice.

Motivation vs discipline

I can’t think of anything to write. It’s often the way with writing. Or painting. Or creating anything.

Sure, every now and then the words flow like wine from a carafe. Sweet muse does her thing and inspiration hits. But most of the time it feels more like squeezing water out of a rock.

What helps in these situations is discipline and routine. This forces you to do some work despite the way you feel. Open the laptop. Write something. Anything. Go through the motions.

And there’s another blog post.

The price of art

Art is subjective. But to my mind, as an artist the price you place on a piece of art is reliant on three major drivers – marketing, reputation and purpose.

Marketing – this boils down to the things that can be defined and measured and tracked. Who is the piece of art aimed at? What is the minimum viable audience? Who is expecting your message as something anticipated, personal and relevant? The clearer this is in your head as an artist, the easier it is to price your work.

Reputation – this is linked to perseverance and track record. The idea of showing up and consistently shipping what you say you will ship is important when you need to put a price on your work. With each promise you keep, your reputation is solidified and this gains you a most valuable form of currency in the internet age – attention. Wit attention comes pricing power.

Purpose – Are you trying to change the culture, and by how much? A couple of examples run through my head:

  • Your purpose may be not ambitious enough – As an artist, you are well known as a ‘reproducer of the masters’. All you ever do with your art skills is reproduce Van Gogh paintings for tourists to buy as cheap mementos. In order to remain relevant to your chosen market (and it is a choice) you have to keep on churning out the sunflowers and keep the pricing at a level defined by the going rate for copies of others’ paintings. It’s not changing the culture, it might make you a living, but the prices remain low and the labor required very high. In essence you are a factory selling a commodity.
  • Your purpose may be too ambitious – a performance artist wants to rid the world of human trafficking through the clarity and poignancy of her message. Dancing and reciting her viscous poetry on the street corner, she ends up shouting at passers by who do not give her much attention or currency. Her stated purpose was too broad and difficult to achieve. Her market is not refined enough. Her price bottoms out.

What makes you pay a particular price for art?

Footage

I received a video yesterday from my dad. He was fronting a full on soul band. A blues brothers style suit on, he was singing on stage playing his Stratocaster next to my sister who played saxophone.

It made me think that not many families have such cool footage. It reminded me that my family roots are creative, bold, and musical.

It was such a great video to receive and I was so proud of them. Thanks dad.

Contrast = interesting to humans

I once asked my dad why he liked The Rolling Stones so much. His answer was that they understood the need for highs and lows in a song.

It is hardwired deep in your nervous system. The senses that we humans have developed over millennia of evolution – touch, smell, sight, hearing – are made up of nerve cells linking to our brain. These nerve cells respond better to a sudden change than they do to repeated stimuli.

What does this mean? It depends on the situation.

For Mick Jagger and the boys it means that their songs have light and shade. Quiet verses and soaring choruses. Jagger will whisper and then he will growl and roar.

For emergency response vehicles it means the loud sirens are designed to be varied, sharp and with many different patterns so as to be noticed over the noise of everyday traffic. This contrast works better than one continuous noise which is easily filtered out by the human ear.

For creative people, I think it means that if a piece of art is not getting the desired response, then one of the first things to assess is the use of contrast – light and shade, highs and lows.

Contrast = interesting to humans.

Keeping it alive

Daily life can most often be distilled down to a single question: should I keep this alive?

Whether it is a pet fish, a job, a relationship, a website: burn the dead wood.

And possibly the goldfish??

Happy Tuesday chimps.