Flashback Dossier from Northern Voice 2008 as written by Greg Andrews as “Dave Olson on art, blogs, self expression, and redefining success” shared here for archival purposes with affection and thanks.
Dave Olson commanded a pre-lunch time slot with his rousing, bullet-point-free presentation entitled “F*ck Stats, Make Art” at Northern Voice 2008. “Art makes the future” Dave states. What we know about history is based on art, because someone chose to record it. Technology changes our focus on what art is. Oil paints were a technology revolution that allowed post-impressionist painting. The Internet has lowered the bar immensly for the distribution of art, but the most popular content seems to be the least meaningful, most simpleminded things like “some guy dancing around the world“.
Dave goes through a brief history of things he has created over the years: from a photocopied punk rock fanzine, through paintings, poetry, photography, writings, and now podcasting. He contrasts craft vs. art: you can take pride and enjoyment in your craft, your day job, but the meaningful personal expression comes through in art. Embracing translucency, instead of transparency, is his policy. No one cares to hear minor details of your life, and there should be things you don’t want to share, but you do want to put your whole self in the work. “Declare your story” and talk about what you create; “put the log back in blog”.
A slide with Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin pops up, and Dave goes into redefining success. Validation can be found from things other than stats, such as reader/listener mail and feedback. Success is for each person to define for themselves. Hold yourself to high standards and maintain your reputation. Hunter S. Thompson is referenced, in that he could write anything because he was very good at it. Rewards will come, possibly when you’re dead, but good art will have longevity. The presentation concluded with a standing ovation.
Link to audio available on the Northern Voice wiki.
F*ck Stats, Make Art by Dave Olson NV 08
NOTE: This is my pitch awkwardly written in third person …
Publishing almost anything and reaching a worldwide audience is suddenly ridiculously easy yet that doesn’t mean a vast stream of top-quality content flowing down the tubes. Often, the stuff that floats to the top is goofy, nonsensical, or cheesy slices of contemporary pop culture – either contrived or wrangled their way to the top of the viral avenues.
Tis easy to get hung up how many people visit your site, view your video, comment on your pictures, add you as a friend etc., however these metrics mean very little in the long term.
By taking a rambling, pictorial journey through his own career of creating grassroots art, Vancouver’s renegade social media maker Dave Olson will extoll, encourage and explain the importance of digging deep to muster creative self expression which will stand the test of time.
Besides spieling on the importance of creating meaningful content, and reasons for concentrating energy on action rather than talking, Dave will share insider tips on outreaching to mainstream media and using promotional skills to amplify your personal message.
We’ll explore questions and topics like “why bother?” “what constitutes success?” “how to express yourself?” “exploring mediums” and “making technology your b!tch” – though a veteran computer user, Dave will seek to tame the intimidation and paradox of endless opportunities which often thwart rather than encourage creativity.
Known for a intensely casual, fast-paced style (laced with humorous anecdotes), Dave is an experienced teacher who ran web design classes, and guest lectured to classes at Vancouver Film School and presented to Rotary Clubs, Chambers of Commerce, loggers and rock bands.
Since publishing a ditto-machined community newspaper in 3rd grade, Dave’s made punk rock fanzines on hijacked xeroxes, poetry chapbooks printed on hemp paper in Guam, homegrown business docs and tv appearances in Japan, filmed and distributed a feature-length documentary travel film, created dozens of voluminous websites, series of semi-legendary podcasts on topics from hockey to literature, started activist ISPs in Olympia, and published expository essays in major magazines on political conundrums and public policy issues. He also worked at Kinko’s for three months just to use the colour copier surreptitiously afterhours.
From a young age, he’s parlayed his artistic and business endeavors into a litany of media appearances from radio in Guam to newspapers in Vancouver to a feature in High Times magazine who said,
“Though his hair is kind of wild these days and a thick beard covers most of his face, you can’t pigeonhole Dave as a hippie. He’s kind of a Renaissance guy who can speak at length on anything from ecology to music to pro hockey.” Chris Simunek, High Times 03/2002
A graduate of Evergreen State College where he studied philosophy, international business, public policy and writing, Dave also attended Univ. of Utah, Univ. of Guam, has worked as a mushroom farmer (Japan), grape picker (Germany), private beach club host (Guam), toured with the Grateful Dead, wrote the Law School Admission Test, made photo journals from SLC Winter Olympics and 2002 Cannabis Cup and enjoys oil painting and making static montage paper art to fill up his cluttered studio.
Dave presented (a pinch hitting) well-received presentation about podcasting at NV 2007 and (another pinch hitting performance) on a panel “Blogging your Passion” at Moosecamp 2006.
Also active participant in Barcamps, Drupalcamps, Transitcamps and enjoys camping in a tent best of all.