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“On the Road to Creativity” talk notes (Pecha Kucha NIght, Vancouver, 2010)

Dave Olson - Story Maker/Writer/ Producer (uncleweed.net) speaks at Pecha Kucha - photo by Melissa Gedney

What follows are my notes for a talk called “On the Road to Creativity” for Pecha Kucha Night Vancouver. The format includes 20 slides for 20 seconds each, auto-changed. As such, the pace is brisk and a bit of a high-wire act. No audio/video exists but there is a “roundup” of photos, tweets, and other artifacts including the hand-crafted “paper-point” collage slides. See “Consider Perusing” below.

1 – On the road

I’ve spent much of my life wandering around the globe working odd jobs including mushroom farmer in Japan, grape picking in Germany, beach club host in Guam and even following the Grateful Dead – all these experiences provided lots of time for thinking mostly about the meaning of art and importance of documentation – here’s what i cam up with

2 Art makes the future

while the history we learn is laden with the stories of kings, conquerers, popes and rulers, the only reason we know anything about how people lived, loved and thought is because artists took the time to chronicle the the stories through paint, words, carvings, and song. From the earliest cave painters to bloggers, there is vast evidence for the importance of storytelling.

3 Art Craft Schwag

No doubt today like olden times, there is a tremendous amount of disposable pop culture created to satiate common interest but the best stuff created by diligent artisans rises above the layer of schlock into the territory of craft and then transcends into a rarified area of art which will last centuries rather than 15 minutes. But who decides what is art? And don’t give me that “i know what i like” answer.

4 Craft + Intent

Instead I’ve made a formula to sort out these largely subjective criteria – first off, take Craft – skill honed from thousands of hours of consideration, then add Intent – which, while subjective, can be gauged by heart of the creator, and then multiplied by the artist’s Integrity as seen by an audience. The audience who truly breathes life into a story, no matter the medium. This formula doesn’t work for you? Cool, make another, but be sure to share. Art does not live in a vacuum, art yearns to be shared.

5 Audience / Awesome

But this can be tricky for artists who must balance their internal desire and, dareisay mission, to create authentic art with the often debilitating practical need to make a living. I’ve found that my projects which garner the biggest audience, are not necessarily the ones which i maximize my artistic potential – find where you audience and awesomeness intersect and try to find a way to hang out there.

Here’s how:

6 Upgrade your Heroes

First upgrade your heroes – history is scattered with underknown world-changers, and the present is too. Dig beyond pop culture, politicians and sports personalities to find remarkable predecessors to your work – for me, my heroes range from writer of “Confessions” and “The Social Contract”, Jean Jacques Rousseau, to current day punk rock photographer bev davies. Who are your historical dopplegangers?

7 Personal Archaeology

Next, embark on personal archaeology – dig into your closet to find forgotten dreams from those black white photos you took in yellowstone to graduate thesis to 4th grade book reports to your journals from hitchhiking down the coast. Take the risk to share these artifacts with your small slice of the world and let them breathe life into your work.

8 Embrace Translucency

Transparency isn’t interesting – instead share the parts of you which are compelling and you are capable of backing up – accept risks but protect the parts of you which are too delicate to expose. Create interest through scarcity and self-editing and be prepared to deal with any reaction which comes along.

9 Express with vigour

You are an expert on something, don’t rely on others to create the historical record – everyone has access to remarkable publishing and promotion tools so step it up and dig deep to tell your unfiltered opinions and don’t let cynics bring you down – if you can’t surprise and impress yourself, no way you can evoke emotion from an audience.

10 HST

I think of “Express with Vigour” as the “Hunter S Thompson rule” – while his reputation has been somewhat maligned through hollywood movies, the fake Doctor was the finest social commentator since Samuel Clemens and offered significant discourse about Jimmy Carter, Hell Angels, 9/11 – and did it with a significant buzz – but always had a job because he expressed himself wisely and vigorously.

11 Cross Training

Now sometimes the pressure to create awesomeness can be debilitating – staring at a white sheet of paper and all that – rather than stressing, experiment with other mediums and get interdisciplinary with cross training skillz and your stories will manifest through the other tools – i contend V. Van Gogh c/would’ve made it as a writer if the painting hadn’t worked out.

12 Don’t Get Precious

With all this goodness you are creating, it’s easy to get protective of your thoughts and work. Rather than waiting for someone to make you an offer you can’t refuse, share your work openly and willingly – learn about creative commons, find collaborators, encourage remixing and your work will create a culture of its own. It’s not always fair but it is usually fun.

13 Ignore Gatekeepers

The established business models for artists are relatively modern and designed to create value for the shareholders of corporations. The goal of landing a major label record deal or a big publishing advance are no longer needed or valued – be your own imprint, chart your own course, the gatekeepers may look intimidating but they are made of stone so walk on by.

14 Cross Pollinate

When your work is released to the world to an audience – no matter the size – you’ll see a culture begin to grow around it – In the hills of Japan, I learned that once inoculated, Shiitake mushrooms propagate their culture from one log to the next – as the older logs rot away and stop producing, new logs down the line are fruiting fungus. Ditto with your audience.

15 Get more drummers

One dude drumming alone can make some noise but is not a party – recruit more drummers to amplify your story in their own way and spread your message across continents and oceans while building relationships and playing well with others. More fun, more effective plus you need others to have your back from time to time. Your momma told you are 1 in a million – that means there are at least 30 people just like you in Canada alone – go find em.

16 Formula for creativity

The old Edison maxim suggest success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration – this isn’t my formula – my formula for creative expression is 80% meditation, 10% execution and 10% inebriation – what i mean by that is the real work comes in the white space of life where you contemplate your story – the inebriation part is about pushing yourself to where you get a little scared.

17 Collect notes along the way

Travelling light means not accumulating much – for me gathering ephemeral objects along the way can be a short cut to remembering where you were mentally, emotionally, artistically decades later – a train ticket or dried flower can leap you back to a place in time which can benchmark how much you’ve remained the same while constantly evolving and spark new creative pursuits.

18 make it for yourself

Everyone else is just eavesdropping – this ain’t your job – its for love not money so make it exactly how you want it. Push out the nagging naysayers in your noggin and create something with integrity and for the love of all things decent, don’t cheese out for the quick win. Be sell out proof and make things you’ll want to read when you are old and grey.

19 Reap Rewards

Making stories for the future isn’t a way to gain the material trapping of perceived success. You may never see your reward beyond the admiration of a small tribe of others – but that’s enough. Success will be a surprise you likely don’t expect. Don’t wait for your ship to come in, instead realize it might get lonely out waiting for your bus to roll in so get comfy and settle in.

20 Hang loose

I’m dave, i’m all over the internet – i have a killer job so you can’t hire me but you can buy me a beer – thank you and hang loose vancouver

“Art Technology Are Old Pals” Talk Transcription (Wordcamp Vancouver 2010)

Transcription of a talk called “Art and Tech are Old Pal” at Wordcamp Vancouver in 2010. Video no longer exists (thanks to blip.tv) but audio exists, as does a “round-up” of photos, tweets, artifacts, and so on. See “Consider Perusing” below.

Dave: I bet you’ve had a lot of knowledge today, so you’re probably pretty exhausted.  I’m pretty wiped out but that’s mostly from the speaker’s dinner last night.  Thanks to the organizers for bludgeoning us the night before.  I really went there.  This will be fine.  I’m just going to pop in for just an hour or so.  It turned out to be longest bus ride of my life on the way home.  Overall, we’re good.  So, Mr. John Biehler on keyboard. [applause]

So, I do my best thinking in the bath because you can’t do anything else.  When you’re in the bath, there’s really nothing else you can do.  You certainly can’t use your iPhone unless you put it in a little Ziploc bag.  You shouldn’t be using your laptop.  That’s just dangerous.  I can’t use my vaporizer because I’d be electrocuted.  So really, all that’s left to do in the bath is thinking.

Recently, I was in the hospital.  Hit me the slide there, John.  While I was recovering and having my scrambled eggs and stuff like that, I got to thinking about what a strange conundrum.  What a strange piece of place of history that we live in with this tool.  I was thinking about coming to talk to you guys.  I had to have something because I really couldn’t think about it because I really couldn’t do much of anything.

I started thinking about how weird it is that all of a sudden art and technology were seeing these fruitions of time where all of a sudden a lot of you are making tools, writing codes, I went and sat in some of the things, and John’s talking about Map and all the new innovations of WordPress 3.0., I use the free WordPress.com, so I’m just letting you guys figured out how to build the tools.

But, all of a sudden, we’re replacing time that guys are making tools.  You’re also expected or in some way producing content for these things.  All of a sudden, you have this new publishing platform in front of you.  I started thinking, because I’ve always been caught in space between art and technology as evidenced here with my King Tut exhibit there, that was pretty good and that’s the important part of taking risks, just proof and point about when you make art, you got to take some risks.  

Continue reading “Art Technology Are Old Pals” Talk Transcription (Wordcamp Vancouver 2010)

“Fck Stats, Make Art” Talk Transcription (Northern Voice 2008)

Dave Olsen Reads Rousseau

What follows is transcription of a talk called “Fck Stats, Make Art” at Northern Voice, 2008 in Vancouver, BC. Original audio (record by Jay Stewart who is identified as Speaker 1 below) exists, as does a “round-up” of photos, tweets, artifacts, and so on. See “Consider Perusing” below.

Speaker 1: We’re at Northern Voice 2008 in Vancouver BC at the University of British Columbia Forestry Science Center and I’m about to record Dave O’s presentation.  What is the name of the presentation?

Speaker 2: Fuck Stats Make Art.

Speaker 1: Fuck Stats Make Art.  It’s going to be a little bit controversial because he’s going to give a call to up the ante on quality of stuff people are posting.  He’s like, “It doesn’t matter if people are looking, it matters if it’s good content, that’s more important.”

Speaker 2: Certainly good content comes first and then you really [inaudible 00:01:06].

Speaker 1: I don’t need to know when people’s cats are going to the bathroom.  I see a lot of that on Twitter and other sites and stuff, you know?

Announcer: So, it’s my pleasure to introduce one of my best friends here Dave Olson.  He also works with me at Raincity Studios and I’m really excited that you guys get to hear him talk today.  I think this talk would be quite a bit different from everything else that you hear at Northern Voice.

I dragged, Dave, kicking and screaming in the world of Google Analytics and I just didn’t get it, just like every moment I spent either looking at my viewers or attracting new ones is one less moment I’m writing or doing something else that I love.  So, I always respected that about him.

He’s a poet, a filmmaker, an author, photographer and many other awesome things.  Anyway, I’ll leave it up to him to go with the rest.  So, welcome to Fuck Stats Make Art.  

Continue reading “Fck Stats, Make Art” Talk Transcription (Northern Voice 2008)

Personal Publicity Story at SFU – Roundup #TPOPS

Vol. 16 Inspire – pechakuchanightvancouver

Vol. 16 Inspire – pechakuchanightvancouver

In the aftermath of last month’s devastating earthquake, PechaKucha Headquarters in Tokyo is planning a global initiative to raise money for the re-building effort. Many of the 400 PechaKucha cities will host a presentation on April 16th, with all proceeds going to Architecture For Humanity. A similar event last year helped raised money for the rebuilding of a school in Haiti, following a disaster there. You can find out more about our global event here: http://global-day.pecha-kucha.org/

Inspire Japan:
The 20×20 presentations will be focused on 4 main themes INSPIRE, JAPAN, THE ISSUES, RECOVERY. They could be simply about things that inspire us, or Japan how it has inspired you. Great ideas or solutions that help deal with the issues at hand whether earthquake, tsunami or nuclear – and the road to recovery.

PRESENTERS:
Michael Green – MGB ARCHITECTURE + DESIGN
Linus Lam – Artsy-Dartsy
Todd MacAllen – molo design
Dave Olson – Story Maker; writer; producer

Vol. 10 – pechakuchanightvancouver

Vol. 10 – pechakuchanightvancouver

PRESENTERS:
JAY BALMER – Big Park
ISABELLE DUNLOP – Combine the Victorious 
DAVE OLSON – Uncleweed
DANI VACHON – Olio Festival 
GAIR WILLIAMSON – Gair Williamson Architects 
MARTHA STURDY – Martha Sturdy 
DOUG HADDOW – Freelance 
BING THOM – Bing Thom Architects Architects 
PAMELA MASIK – Pamela Masik Studio 
STEPHANIE CORKER IRWIN – NoMoSolo
VANESSA LEIGH – Ion Magazine 
MARC BAUMGARTNER – NowPublic Technologies Inc.

Vol. 20 – pechakuchanightvancouver

Vol. 20 – pechakuchanightvancouver

Observations on Vancouver at PechaKucha Night Vol. 20 | Cause+Affect

Observations on Vancouver at PechaKucha Night Vol. 20 | Cause+Affect

Watch each talk from PechaKucha Night Vol. 32 | Cause+Affect

Watch each talk from PechaKucha Night Vol. 32 | Cause+Affect

“Navigating New Territory” – More from #SOMET12

November’s #SoMeT12 – a symposium about Social Media in the Tourism industry – held in El Paso, Texas does seem like ages ago now. But every so often – like now, just getting back into the swing of things in Vancouver and dealing with the unenviable task of sorting through hundreds of emails in my inbox – something pops up from the past.

I had a great time speaking to delegates representing many countries, regions, cities and so on at #SoMeT12 and it was great to find myself quoted in a story about all things SoMeT.

Here’s an excerpt:

Dave Olson, vice president of community at HootSuite, ended his presentation about building an impassioned and actively supportive community around a brand or destination by asking the question, “How do you measure happiness?” On the surface, it seems a flip remark for a serious business to consider, but most businesses know that a happy customer is a returning customer. Just as most meeting planners know that a happy conference community keeps attendees coming back.

For the full post, checkout Rob Hodge’s article Navigating New Territories in Connect magazine.