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.
Dave: So, when I was doing my pitch this year, I started thinking about the topics I could talk about. Last year was straightforward it was about podcasting. I started thinking, “What can I really get that no one cares about, that no one will show up for?” This is what I came up with.
So, frankly, I’m shocked that anyone even showed up. Matt earlier said something that’s really important that there’s a huge deal about validation that you get from seeing who’s coming by and I appreciate that.
What I’m going to talk to you about today, we’re kind of going on a little bit of a ride and talk about a journey to kind of open up your own sense of artistic sensibility, which is kind of what I got from [inaudible 00:02:45]. This is kind of a tricky journey; there will be some thrills along the way and perhaps a few laughs.
As most spiels go, you have to start with some kind of big important kind of slogan. So, I thought well to bring in people, because people are going to so like, “Why should I care?” And, “I already got a day job, I don’t need to do this.”
However, I figured if I came up with a big important sign and slogan that would kind of get you thinking. What I mean by this is what do we know about history? History may have been performed by popes, generalissimos, dictators and folks like that throughout history but the only reason we know about any of them is because of the people who created art about it.
The only reason that we remember anything or have any written history at all is because someone took the time to document, someone took the time to write that down; someone went through great pain to make some sort of art about it.
So, let’s carry on and talk about it. There is a big change ahead with the way of art. The traditional gatekeepers are going away. For years — I’ll get to this in a second.
The fun thing about this is anyone can be doing it. You don’t have to be all of a sudden be an official certified stamped, I have a major Ivy League degree, I have a contract, I’m an author, here’s my book. I’m on a book tour and someone else is paying for it. Hell, any of us can do it, right? We’re just like the inmates here at work.
This was funny because it was in front of a school too, an elementary school. I kind of talk about the beginning, it’s kind of a strange topic, what we talk about here because everyone is already doing something and creating stuff. However, technology and art have never been better friends. As evidenced, the rabbit and the fox enjoying a cup of tea together, a cup of tea that I wish I was having but they’re out of hot water.
All of a sudden, we have these tools available at our disposal, where we can go directly from idea to execution, to promotion, to sending it out to the rest of the world, all by yourself and go directly to artistic fulfillment.
So, this is the perilous bridge, one which many of us trod, if we seek and take on this endeavor. Some of you in here are already creating fantastic art, some of you are writing countless poetry and some of you are creating remarkable photographs that make me look at photographs in a whole other way and think, “Holy shit, I have no idea that it can even do that.”
There’s also other things you could be doing and I want to build a sensibility where you look at everything that you’re doing and really take advantage of these incredible tools that we have at our disposal now. So, with that we’ll start by refining our sensibilities about art.
The important thing about art is the original creation of the art. This, lovely the replica of David as seen in the event front yard, doesn’t really have the same impact as the real one.
So, it’s not the image of art, it’s the creation of art that’s important. Would you agree with me? They just don’t have the same value. During World War Two the poor maligned French went through great paints to protect all these treasures and would build like little brick igloos around statues and take out paintings and roll them up and go through this great pains to protect these arts. I don’t think anyone would make much of an effort to keep that replica as lovely as it is.
I think of all the problems, and I was kind of reflecting back on us as we’re kids in elementary school, we’re doing finger paintings, doing science projects and you get to do a little bit of arts and crafts. Then you get into high school and stuff — you don’t actually have to read it because it’s not saying anything tremendously important. It was written by JD Salinger, which I’m going to get to in a second here, but I see everyone squinting.
At some point of your school career, you just start — if you’re going to get serious, you have to go take serious classes. I’m like, why didn’t I go take welding and auto mechanics, something I could actually use as well as art. I go in there and try to learn art. There’s this surly artwork professor, who is still working on the same western landscape he started in 1983. Well, I guess it’s 1970s because 1983 was when I actually experienced that.
Then, I had a misfortune of doing some hard time in 11th Grade in Utah and so [inaudible 00:07:23] we can pick any book we want to read. So I wanted to read “Catcher and the Rye,” because I heard it was something controversial. I get a note from my mom, I had to bring a note saying I was allowed to read a book. I said, “Wow, that’s fuck man.”
At the end, we had a talk about what the book was about. Like share it with the class, in little groups and everything and the teacher was really worried, she pulled me aside and was like, “I know there are really sensitive topics in this book and I just want you to understand that some of your classmates might be really sensitive.”
So, I was like, “It’s a book about a guy, he gets kicked out of school and wanders around New York,” and she was like, “I thought it was about the Vietnam War.” She had no idea what it was and she’s concerned about it but with no idea. She’s teaching English at a school and you’d think that she would have some concept of modern American literature but apparently it’s not a prerequisite in Utah. Last Utah joke — probably.
First of all, of all the lovely pictures of the great pyramid, this is probably going to be the best one ever taken on Flickr. I finally found this to represent — I didn’t go to art school or anything like that. I don’t own a black turtleneck and — I’m sorry, I need a sip of water. Just think of the picture. Think about how they build it, levitation, right? Any freemasons here who might know how they did that?
[00:08:58 – 00:09:02] [Cross Talk]
Dave: So, art is a weird word, just like social media, it has this big weird nebulous, as we try to define it the other day. Well, I kind of chopped things up to — I made a pyramid, like a hierarchy of art and you see the big thick fat part up to about the top of the [fez] [ph 00:09:18], that’s what I’m going to call, “schlock layer.” This smiley ad and crap, it’s just commercial pabulum. That goes through the same process.
Someone has to create images and create graphics, I’m gingerly trying not to use the word, “art” here but someone has to go through the motions of creating something to put it up and the same process really as you go through for creating art, they just don’t turn magical.
The ingredient that’s missing, which is the next layer from the top of this fez up to like a part where the pyramid gets kind of like, it’s going to fall off there, we’re going to call that the, “craft layer.” Not craft with a “K.” People are thinking, “Um, Cheez Whiz,” but no. This is where most of us spend most of our time doing something.
When I go to work and I try to do a really good job because I need to get paid and I take pride in my work but there’s something that’s missing. It’s not quite art, as kick ass as a press release is, I’m sorry it’s never going to be art.
This is a noble area and this is where we refine our technique that then allows us to produce art and in many times, another thing we kind of get high jacked about art is abstract impressionalism and, then Robert Mapplethorpe would be the only art thing, like weird art projects. So, it’s like there’s no sense of tangibility here. It seems that people just leapfrog the craft of making art. It’s like no technique, it’s just weird concept.
However, I think when craft and intent marry, together the crusty part at the top of the pyramid, that’s the art layer and that is what survives over the long course of history.
As we carry on — it wasn’t too easy to make a blog post. This is earliest blog post I could find. It’s about some people in weird hats bringing horses and bringing plants over from another country. This was a cave painting in Japan. It must been really important for them to figure out how to do that so it must be telling a story. I don’t think they were just doodling, right? Do you think? I don’t know.
Is this something about their cats, is it a cat blog post?
Then people were like, “We’ll move on from cave painting because that’s too difficult. We’ll start expressing ourselves with giant rocks.” So, they started moving giant rocks around and expressing themselves somehow. I’m not sure what this blog post says.
Actually, this one isn’t the real Stonehenge. This is someone else’s art project in Goldendale, Washington. Someone just decided, I’m building a replica of Stonehenge with all the pieces put back together. Weird but it’s a difficult way to express themselves, wouldn’t you agree? Difficult expressing with rocks, plus it’s hard to interpret too.
Then you got chisel, Hammurabi’s Code, and noble. This is the oldest written thing that we got and it’s a fan-fucking-tastic picture. That’s a camera phone in the Louvre. If you squint you can read it out and well that’s — what do you spend, 20 minute, two hours of really kickass blog post I’m trying to blog. I think that’s the law.
That’s some real technology too. They didn’t have TCPIP but they had chisels. They made progress.
Then, there’s this whole period of the dark ages and we skip all the stuff that the Greeks did because they did everything that we’re trying to do already and they did it thousands of years ago.
So, I’m just going to skip their whole contributions and make fun of the dark ages, where the only people who are allowed to make art is all through patronage. Someone had to give you money and give you permission to make a painting. You can paint fat popes, cherubic angels, or was there something else? No, there wasn’t.
A lot of the smart ones, they said, “Well, I could go off and get killed in the war, I could be a dirt farmer, or I could go transcribe books but the monks really were in it for —“ well, we know why they were there. They were there for the beer. Five liters of beer they’re allowed. I did some research on this to make sure the monks were really transcribing things and I found out there’s little bit of transcribing but they got five liters a day, rationed. Not too bad. Life of celibacy with five liter or dirt farmer?
Then a crazy thing about technology happened along the way, I skipped da Vinci there because I already did the bad picture from the Louvre joke and my only picture of Mona Lisa is a bad picture from the Louvre.
It’s kind of funny, everyone’s there taking camera phone pictures of Mona Lisa and security is like, “No you can’t do that.” I was like, “What? I’m going to go make a calendar from your thing and re-market these pictures?”
Mixable oil paints, it was a huge revolution in art, which kind of gets overlooked. The fact that you could have your own little things, you wouldn’t have to go out and grind stones, mix them with strange things, you know, you just squeeze them out of a tube. Then all of a sudden, a dude like Van Gogh would be like, “Okay, I’m going out in the hills, take my easel and some paints and make a painting.”
That seems like no big deal, everyone can do that but at the time it was — that’s just not what you did. So, then Picasso came, got everything crazy and then confused everyone, so all of a sudden people couldn’t figure out what paintings were and people started — he kind of came in and confused things. This is where a lot of modern American art knowledge ends.
The noble typewriter that was a part of technology. That’s some technology, right? I’m going to go out because that is displaced.
So, what we’re going to do is change our focus a little bit about what art is now. Art just doesn’t seem all that important. Anyone who make it to galleries much?
Audience: Went last night.
Dave: One, two. Here are my steps in doing this. I’ll just try and spiel along, give you less anecdotes. First step, I think something really important to me was, really defining who my heroes are.
The first one. Henry David Thoreau, holy smokes. What a great guy to be your hero. Inspired Gandhi and Martin Luther King, he died at 37 of tuberculosis, broke and sold a hundred copies of his book. Geez, that’s not the life I wanted. That kind of sucks. You’re by yourself in a little hut. So, that’s a little bit of a lofty guy to look up to but he revolutionized the world. Just notch it down a little bit because I’m not going through what he went through.
DH Lawrence, started a whole class revolution in England, while he’s living in Taos, New Mexico. That whole four-hour workweek, he had that all figured out years ago. He’s like, “England’s uptight, I’m going to move to New Mexico and make fun of it.” Scandalous, that’s good, I like that one.
Edward Abbey is superstar in my book. Lived in the desert, started the modern eco sabotage movement. Bulldozer, gas tanks, a little monkey wrench.
Audience: [inaudible 00:16:18]
Dave: No, it’s not [inaudible 00:16:22]. But then he lived in the desert and the other six months of the year, he lived in New York City and worked as a social worker in inner city Harlem. He never told anyone in the desert that he did that or anyone. I thought that was such a fantastic paradox. He also managed to write incredible bodies of work including, “Desert Solitaire.”
[Inaudible 00:16:40] you don’t know his story, it’s too sad to tell so I’m just going to skip it. It get’s me a little weepy.
Vaclav Havel, now this guy orchestrated Prague Spring, the Velvet Revolution, Velvet Divorce separating Czechoslovakia from Soviet Union separating Czechoslovakia and all the bloodshed and all the chaos that came out of those countries. No problem but the cool thing about him is he parties with Lou Reed.
Frank Zappa played his inauguration. In three days, he went from the prison to the palace with Frank Zappa and a million people out there partying. I like that. The cool thing about it is, he’s an existentialist playwright. Here’s the first three acts of the famous play.
A guy comes out over on stage. He stares for a while, pretends he’s listening, end of scene. [Inaudible 00:17:34] wearing black turtleneck to talk about it.
So, here’s a good one, Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac’s buddy. He’s actually one of those free verse crazy poet that actually like gets respected and gets like awards from those Laureate and stuff, there’s some awards they give poets. I have no idea what they are. Here’s a guy, he’s a little bit more local, he’s still alive, living a comfortable life, finally getting a hero in we can aspire to right?
Here’s the great one, we’re getting a little more local, Bev Davies. When I was a kid publishing punk rock fanzines, there’s this woman who always shows up and in every showing, she’s taking pictures before anyone in the fucking room had a camera, only one person in these shows with a camera. Next we have one of her pictures in the [inaudible 00:18:23]. Recently she resurfaced and did 144 punk rock photographs as an exhibition. There she is.
I love to take terrible pictures of photographers as you could see, terrible picture. I do my best. Look at this, you always think that the girl looks scary. Looks like he’s such a nice young man. She toured with all these bands and did these amazing photographs.
Now, here’s another one and this gets even more local, closer seeing, Jer Crowle is an amazing painter and he does this retarded street art and he does album covers.
I tell you what, if you decide that this dot com inner webby shit is not for you, art is not going to do it. Just go buy some of those paintings, sit on it for 10 years, it’s better than an RSP I think, I’m pretty sure.
The next step, I embarked in some personal archeology to find out where my artistic history came from and where it stopped. Bam! Why is this important to do? Well, I think I mentioned about the importance of documenting stuff. I found this [inaudible 00:19:34] around Vancouver with some guy named James something, tirelessly worked in collecting and preserving the early pioneer records of Vancouver.
At the time, you’re like, I need to eat, I need to dig a latrine and then I need to go carefully tie all these archive, all these records and keep them in a safe little box.
I think it’s really important to hold on to this shit. Like this picture here, I got this the first day the Canada Line ever ran. I think of all the times I’ve ridden that bus, it looks this different now.
Audience: Not much.
Dave: Not much though. So, then I started going through — anyone have a box of crap in their closet of like old stuff that they mean to finish. In preparation for this, I started going through this box. My mom made me move all of my shit out of the storage shed and it’s been sitting in a box and I found what my very first social media, declaring the eclipse of the sun.
Any of you born after 1979? You’ll never get to see this, the next one won’t be for 500 years. There it was eight [inaudible 00:20:35] about my stats still and Meg Magazine has nothing on me. Look at this. Look at there, why? So, there’s a schematic. Look at that. Surprised myself.
Now, what could top the eclipse of the sun? Anyone a Canuck’s fan? Jake Milford, going to Sweden, thinking about getting some Swedish hockey players. Can you imagine Swedish hockey players on the Canucks? Insane, right? Look at this, talking about building a 62,000-seat stadium, ridiculous! Why would anyone want to do that?
So, the Pig Express, the run didn’t go very long, I did launch my first spin off and my cousin Tal Bachman went on to have some one hit wonder and look at that start, got a start right there, so if anyone is looking for a start, 10% follow right through my system, hit making parade, right there.
Audience: In 20 years.
Dave: Twenty years, yes. So, then after Pig Express, I moved on to punk rock fanzines. Look at that Xerox, that’s some good stuff. There I am collaborating with Bev Davies. Me, I felt so cool. Look at this, you could take it and show it off to people, you can mail it around, started communicating and exchanging with other people in other cities and then I found that the secret if you tell people, you’ll like some media property outlet something you can get free shit, right?
So, I started getting in the free show. That’s at The Commodore when I was 14 years old, I got kicked out after that, they found out I was underage but you got cool stuff. I was telling myself there’s really no purpose for this except to show it off. I was going through this box of shit.
I found Johnny Ramone’s home address and I think it’s stuff from the last Clash show ever. There’s no purpose, nothing to do with the talk, I’m just showing off there
Then, rock and roll started doing all these making these flyers and fanzine, all the stuff all of a sudden becomes archivable material and now all of a sudden I found this, a band show I was at the first time is Surrey. Now you know my secret. That’s why I’m so jaded, cynical and tough. Free skytrain too.
There’s other people archiving the stuff. I thought I was the only one that bothered holding on to this stuff and scanning all these. I go look on the internet and there’s a collection of all the stuff that I made, those fanzines, these posters and all that stuff that I made, someone else had held on to for 20 years. Shocking isn’t it?
So, again, literature I’m going to move through that and I started thinking, “I should write poetry and short stories because I’m that kind of guy,” and I was like, “What do you do?” Put in your little book and then you make them. You give them to your friends and they pretend to read it, right?’
So I did another series, it’s sort of a mash up of Japanese haiku and impressionalist — middle impressionalist painting. Turns out, there’s not a huge market for it. I produced a series of like 50 of these and mailed them around when I was in Guam. Look at this, ’95, no copyright.
I know — Marc Canter, visionary; Dave Olson, “basically” visionary. The paper was multipurpose, you could use it as rollers afterwards too, which I think is what most people did with it.
As I was making all these projects and spending all the money with Xerox, Xerox isn’t cheap and making all these, I actually went and worked at Kinko’s for three months, just so I could use their machines after hours. Three months, talk about hard labor, but once I saw the internet, I realized that I could do all that same stuff — words, pictures and send it out to the people but remove the cost part , I was like, “Holy crap!”
This is my closet just the other day, you see all those boxes and stuff? That’s all the crap that I’m trying to sort through and that’s after I pull them all out, pull all this stuff out and jam it all back in there. All this stuff — you have the same closet?
Dave: Old stuff? So why not start to make it into something.
Audience: You still have some of that…
Audience: Yes, restored? But anyway, go.
Dave: So, now I’m totally getting off track.
Dave: Next step, you can upgrade your heroes. I found some new heroes in Marc Canter, Cory Doctorow, Jay Stewart — pick your own hero,
Now, is the time to embrace. If you’re going to be an artist, you’re going to be out there, you’re going to really put yourself out. In order to make art, you have to put yourself, your guts, your soul and all your stuff in it. You start holding back, it’s not art. It’s craft, you’re not going to get that great. Go get a paycheck from it, it’s not going to be art. You got to put yourself in it, you got to be willing to embrace.
Transparency is like this year’s leverage or synergy and I don’t want everyone to be transparent because there are a lot of shit I don’t want to know about you. It’s really more about translucency and you have to get comfortable. Isn’t that cool? Translucency, it sounds cooler, it’s this year’s word, spread it around, make a meme out of it. Get Darren Barefoot to make a meme out of it.
Figure out how much of yourself you’re willing to put out there. Jean-Jacque Rousseau, it’s hard to take guys with goofy hair like that seriously. [inaudible 00:26:05] Jean-Jacques Rousseau and he wrote a document that was very pivotal in the French Revolution, “The Social Contract” and you look at him and go, “Fro-fro.” It’s goofy right?
I actually read his book “The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.” I’m going to read the very first paragraph and the very last paragraph so you could just skip the whole middle part because that’s the best way to read a book, right?
“I am commencing and undertaking, hitherto without precedent, and which will never find an imitator. I decided to set forth before my fellows the likeness of a man in all the truth of nature, and that man myself.”
So, what goes through for the next several pages, all his sexual misadventures, the 50 jobs he got fired from, the people he free loaded off and the people he ripped off, the people he lied to, etcetera, etcetera.
At the end he says, “As for myself, I declare openly and fearlessly, whosoever even without having read my writings, after examining with his own eyes my disposition, my character, my manners, my inclinations, my pleasures, and my habits, can believe me to be a dishonorable man, is himself a man who deserves to be choked. Thus I concluded my reading of my confessions and everyone was silent.”
It wasn’t respectable to talk about that kind of stuff. Now we’re all blogging and telling about, “I’m having a fight with my wife, my cat is sick and everything.” This guy really took the transparency and went kind of nutty with it, told everything and he started the whole French revolution. You heard about the French, they have a revolution after the Americans. It started right here.
But this can get ugly, the translucency, and this is something I struggle with a lot because I’m really open about a lot of stuff that I do, maybe you know that. I’m constantly testing this tension because I got a family, I got a kid and it’s all cool to be like a famous stoner and everything in the magazines and everything.
However, sometimes it gets you in trouble like it did — this is the other part, the other part about translucency is shit that is going to come right at you and it’s really embarrassing. So, indulge me by letting me show off a little bit and now I’m going to show you — this is as historic as it gets.
I really shouldn’t do that but if I’m going to show off and show all my cool stuff I got to show that’s — I mean that’s really the most embarrassing thing I can possibly show, I think.
So, there we were, at Canada’s Cup, Jay and I were judges, very serious judging. You got to go 29 coffeeshops for three days and keep notes and test all these different kinds of things. So, me, being a diligent social media maker, I took pictures of it all and made a whole photo documentary of it and put it up in the web. That’s what I do with everything, riding the boats, I’m taking pictures, writing about and showing Canada’s cup and put out pictures. That is what you do, right?
So, my then new at the time, my woman was out with her dad, my new woman at the time and so he’s like, “So, Lisa, that new boyfriend of yours, does he smoke pot?” She was like, “My God, I couldn’t imagine.” Big, old, strapping Southern redneck man, you’d say, “No.” No, is always the answer. So, then he starts pulling out a whole dossier and then just [inaudible 00:29:25]. I was like, “Yes, that’s herbal tea.”
Then once he got to the weed vending machine, it was just a dead giveaway. So, I was busted hard. so, I shifted that slightly over to the under more control, especially since the 13-year old is going start pinching through to my staff any year now so I got to start keeping it under wraps.
So, controlling the translucency, and be prepared because the more you open up, the more fulfilling it will be but just keep your ass out of trouble. Express yourself with vigor. I have a particular beef for people who go through all these effort to make all these great tools and all these great — you got better looking blogs and sites and stuff but there’s really not much in there. You go there and there’s just no content in there.
This will be the most scenic dump. You can have something as lovely and scenic and it could still be a dump. So, what I encourage — I’m just talking on [inaudible 00:30:32]. So, when you step up your skills in order to figure out a new way to do things.
Great art, it comes from people who innovate and create new techniques, new ways of writing, new ways of painting, new ways of taking pictures or a new slack on different ways of doing things. So, you must find some way to do something different. Some people say to learn art you have to study from the masters. Bullshit, go study from yourself. Go think about what it is you want to make and just go make it.
Read the classics. Read a damn book. Anyone ride transit? You pick up those 24 or metro newspapers? Stop picking those up, take with you a classic book and work through all those important books and you will say, “Oh, that’s one of those really important books, they must be really good.” Read it.
Go to an art gallery, lovely pictures, taken from transit, [inaudible 00:31:24] in Vancouver and most beautiful perspective.
This lovely image represents the tension between mainstream media and us grassroots inmate goofball upstarts. I make a lot of fun of mainstream media just because it’s an easy target and everything but more and more mainstream media are getting into our game of making stuff. Everyone’s got a blog now, all the big famous hotshot writers, all the political stuff, they all got blogs and they’re posting 15 times a day.
Some of these journalist, some of them went to school and they learned how to write and some of them are some pretty good writers.
All of a sudden you’re going to see this blog [inaudible 00:32:17], like if you have the best blog and you run your mouth on this, you’re going to start finding a lot more people writing on that topic who have been doing it and are paid to do it because they’re working for some news outlets and news outlets are onto us. The blogs aren’t new anymore, everyone wants in.
So, in order to compete with those people — that’s a pretty good argument for stepping it up. So, what that means is find ways to do what you do better. Find your craft and take it seriously. I think writing gets kind of the short end of the stick sometimes because almost everyone has the ability to type words and hit publish, the big difference between typing and writing.
So, all of you are generating words in the internet and I implore you to take that task seriously and find ways to write better, there’s all sorts of list and people tell you about using active verbs and finding your voice and all that. Sort that off yourself, just step it up and be very conscious of it.
Cross training skills, I get hung up sometimes because I think that everything I write, I’ve got to — I’m sitting down because I’m a writer and I’ve been doing this since 1979 in the Pink Express. Every poem I write has to be the greatest damn poem ever written. I hold myself up to a big high standard because I get all concerned about my quality. Anyone else do that? All right. That would have been embarrassing.
However, what I found is when I get in that stuck place, I pull out, I start experimenting with a different media and it opens up a whole new channel of creativity and cycles back to whatever it is that I’m trying to get at. I really learned about this from old Vince, Vincent van Gogh again.
He was right [inaudible 00:34:03] probably going, “I don’t know how to paint, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, I’m confused. Wow, I don’t know what to do, what the hell am I thinking about?” He was sorting out his ideas for painting from kind of how he was going to lay it out to just those internal struggles of an artist.
Now, I had an incident when I was living in Olympia. I’m not going to tell you the whole story because it will take forever. I’m just going to say it involves some college kids, a lot of cocaine, a rental house and shit flood, a backed up city sewer.
This is really a trying time for me and I wasn’t the college kid or had anything to do with the cocaine, don’t get any wrong idea. I remember coming back and I was just like, “Wow man, I’m fucking miserable, I’ve been dealing with this problem. I need some art therapy.”
So, I walk out there to where those lawn chairs are and I got some paints and I just started painting. Then, I started doodling around with some charcoals and then I got some oil paint and a painting came out. I was like, “Oh man, this is really easy.” I go out and knocked out this in an hour, no pressure because when I sit down and write, I’m like, “It’s going to be the finest one ever.” There, I can just go and at the end, it felt really good.
Then I made another and another, I made a whole dozen of them and then I was like, “Oh, postcards from gravelly beach. I’m going to make a podcast series about this. If it’s going to be a podcast series, I’m going to need some more writing.” So, it opened up this whole new channel of creativity, basically from just needing another medium, another outlet and something that’s tremendously pleasurable cross training.
It’s not a big deal. I use the cheapest equipment I can get, the cheapest crappiest brushes, cheapest paints and I throw it in an old picnic basket, I just take it with me. No big deal, and it’s easy to think, “I got to go take a class and I got to go buy some books and I got to go buy some canvasses, then I need those ermine hair brushes because that’s what the fine painters use. Whatever. It doesn’t really matter, just do it.
Ceramics, make some pottery, this is another thing playing with clay, it’s really fun. So, now this is the other side, I took the one from the closet, that’s the other side. So this is all stuff in process, I’m trying to move all stuff from the closet. You can see all the writing notes stuff there. I’m trying to organize all these kind of stuff. Start pulling that stuff up and dust it off and see what it is and stretch it out.
Like I said, you don’t need big fancy equipment. People make art with spray paint or say for example black marker. Wonderful things can be done with the black marker. There something very mad about that.
So, now that you’re prepared to step it up, you honed your skills, it’s time to declare your story to the world. Go ahead. No stain at all. Now ladies, my chest never really filled out, still the same [inaudible 00:36:58].
Audience: You got me excited.
Audience: Are those candles?
Audience: No, that’s all Dave.
Dave: Anyway, the point of this is once you declare your story, if you have something interesting to talk about, people are going to be interested in finding out what your story is. If you just talk about what you might talk about, people aren’t going to be interested in what you do. If you talk about what it is that you’re doing, people are going to be interested.
If you just do something, the stories will come and people will come and start paying attention to what you’re doing because — this will probably be the last time I make fun of the mainstream media. Most journalist are very time constraint, which is another fancy name for lazy and they need stories. So, if you’re doing something really interesting you can really help them out by doing stuff to write about.
So, put the log back in the blog. Blog about what it is that you’ve accomplished. I made this over here, I created this over here, I’m working on this big thing, rather than talking about what you might talk about and reposting what everyone else is talking about.
I shouldn’t put those two together, some of the candles right over here to the Canucks. Local man provides commercial free commentary to the world.
Something much less credible, the Vancouver Courier. We went out and did this crazy project where we did this companion broadcast for the Canucks during the playoffs last year, it was [Roland’s] [ph 00:38:39] nutty idea, I just wanted to say, “Yes.” I showed up and all of a sudden all the media, CBC, I was kind of, “Oh my God, CBC.” Can you imagine knowing someone from CBC?
The Vancouver Courier — but the point of it is that you’re doing something interesting that people want to know about. That’s a better fit in helping people. Did you see the part about [inaudible 00:39:03] the podcast.
Do not feed the bears because the bears are not there. The sign remains in Stanley Park however, the bears have been retired and the grotto sits empty.
Now, the reason I’m telling you this isn’t just so you can alter your vacation plans to Stanley Park — well, you won’t be disappointed because there’s no bears there but I wonder where’s it’s going to be about.
You don’t have to play that game with people anymore where you say, “I’m only going to make something if it’s going to be published. I’m only going to record these…”
Like with [inaudible 00:39:45], he’s making the songs and he put them out to the people.
He’s not making the songs, “And what I’m going to do is I’m going to spend all my time send them around with every label and then I think I got an appointment with Bruce Allen. He might validate me because he might like my music. All of a sudden, my work is so much more important because someone has taken the time to listen to it and they rubber stamp it.
Is that important? This is something I struggled with a lot. It’s the writing the book that’s important or is it that the book — someone has taken the investment and believed in you and put it to press and ran off 1,000 copies and paid you and sent you around a little book tour?
It’s kind of a strange dilemma for me because I make pretty good beer money selling magazine articles. It’s really cool when it comes in the mail and I see my name on it and I give them to people and sign them. You publish stuff online, I put better work and all my great things go up there but you can’t sign the screen. You can’t take it home and read it on the bus. It doesn’t have that form factor.
So, this is a little bit tricky because we’re accustomed to, I have a book, now I’m a writer. Are you a writer if you don’t have a book? Does it matter? I don’t’ know. You were probably hoping I knew that. That I would just come through and have it all solved. Sorry, I don’t.
However, part of this is starting to redefine success. Now, this is starting to look like a normal tech conference presentation. I was like, “Oh, thank God.” It used to be in order, like, “I’m a successful band if I’m on a major label.”
What you find out if you got on a major label is they lend you the money, they put your balls in a vice and they keep them there for about 20 years until you pay back their investment and then they throw you out, forget about you and your cocaine habit. That’s how a major label business works. Am I wrong?
Now, that’s not the important part. That’s not the end game. I read about this and the reason I’m making fun of the Google guys is because I heard about them saying, “We’ve all pledged to each other, we’re going to work for another 20 year.” You know what? Why? At that point, I mean what if you’re really enjoying it and shown up and doing something really — well, we can debate all day long if Google changes the world or not.
What’s the end game in your life? What it is that you’re trying to accomplish? I’m not going to go all Oprah on you and start thinking of, “What’s your true passion, what’s your true calling?” When I hear about that I’m like, “Why do you want to be 60, grinding it out in Silicon Valley” That’s not the life style I want because I’ve been to Palau. There’s internet access, it’s cheap, why not go there, cut and run?
So, for me that’s really the end game for me is to create art and go live somewhere comfortably. For, those guys they have a whole what I think is a pretty skewed end game but the point of it is to kind of come up with something yourself where you really redefine what it is that you’re trying to accomplish, what to you is successful art creation?
Is it getting that major label deal or is it producing your own stuff and just bringing it out to the people or somewhere in between? So, don’t get precious.
I’m telling all these mixed stuff about all those grand things and making all those important art but really what it really comes down to is you. If you get all too wound up in your own billions and stuff, you’re never going to go anywhere with it.
It really comes down to sharing your stuff, giving your stuff away and that’s how this new — you remember the part about this change ahead? We kind of got the idea to share and all the stuff — and this is kind of preaching to the choir here because that’s what we all do, we put stuff up there and we’ll share and all that.
That doesn’t mean that people are able to steal your stuff of course and this is the tension that we all talk about and people hijack other people’s work but at what point is it being taken over? There’s a good examples with Lee LeFever’s super popular videos now, everyone copying it and singing it, at what point is it flattering and what point is it just knocking off?
The important thing is to relax and enjoy the whole process of making art and figuring out these questions because there is no right or wrong answer to any of it. The real question is what can you do to make your stuff better?
See that’s where the counter punch is, please don’t steal my stuff, free for the taking. This one is written on top of cooler, beer cooler. I don’t know if anyone want it that top of a beer cooler even though it was free. This is something I’ve experimented with. It’s easy like when you have a book of impressionalist Japanese haiku to say, “Oh no copyright.” I don’t think there’s people who line up to plagiarize it.
I haven’t seen any knock off parts in China yet. Let’s just say that. It’s important to share your stuff and let people use it. Collaborate with other people which is what I did when I made this big crazy film project I did, quite an incredible amount of collaboration and the best way to say it is, be willing to ask people for their participation in making something and it can become a big collaborative art project that way.
In this case, it was a documentary film where everyone’s input really produced the final thing. Look at that we just [inaudible 00:45:00] post card. All right more on collaborative part, we [inaudible 00:45:07] commercial job. Just had it up there and people can come up, it’s all sketched down, you can just come up there and contribute just a little bit. This seems like such nice idea of people getting together and painting some art together seem pleasant.
What happens with all the sharing, and all these touchy feel sharing, exchanging, giving away and please don’t steal but use it, let’s make it together and let’s collaborate, it cross pollinates and this is the wonder of Shiitake logs, shiitake mushrooms, anyone know?
They grow out of logs. What happens is they inoculate one lot. Then over the years, the mushroom spores spread and pop up on all these different logs. As soon as you start spreading your art around, it’s going to cross-pollinate and spread around.
Derek’s music is great an example of this because of the nature of music. All of a sudden you hear it there and you hear it over here, you hear it as intro music in this other podcast and now you got to get it out there quick so you can kind of be one of the first ones to use or highjack it and remix it.
What that means is all around the world this is cross-pollinating and remixing all of what started and some dude’s spare bedroom in Vancouver — we call it a studio. That’s what I call my spare bedroom, a studio.
So, we’re ready to — we won’t mock them because that’s just impolite, ignore the gate keepers. We talked about all these major labels, the publishing houses and all this and why it might look scary? It’s just made of stone and just walk right on by. It turns out that big sword, he wasn’t able to thrust it, he wasn’t able to move his arm so I was able to walk by without any fear.
It’s the same way that you, once you have is skills and this is what you call the Hunter S Thompson rule of art creation. Hunter S Thompson can get away with anything because he could write really well. If you have strong skills, then all of a sudden you can start all sorts of shit and you can get away with anything. As long as you have those skills, you can mock the gatekeepers or just ignore them at their peril.
As part of this, you got to be careful and you got to make sure that once you put yourself out there and saying, “Damn it, I’m an artist,” you got to hold yourself to a high standard. You can’t be polluting your own world with substandard quality. I’m not going to say that you’re building your brand or you’re building your reputation but more important than that is your building your own artistic integrity. That sounds so serious.
I got nothing for you there. It’s no longer dangerous to touch and cross these boundaries. It may look like it’s just been a bunch of MacGyver sort of dangerous proposition there, stepping out into the unknown but they’ve been telling us lies for all these years, we can do whatever we want. We don’t need to follow these old paradigms just like every distribution method is being turned on his head, art itself can be turned on its head.
This area can be unsafe for yuppies, which all changed to major label record company executives, we’ll just call them yuppies because it’s dangerous and if you’re not ready to go in there and really push yourself, don’t bother.
The whole provocative title thing. I’m just going to call it, how about more about me but I decided had Fuck Stat Make Art would get more people to show up.
I’m a marketing guy by day. So, sure I’m cynical about stats but really the point of it is, for validation seek other things. It’s easy to go out there and make fun of all this crap. If you want people to come to your website, you blog about celebrities without underpants and blog about guys hurting their nuts on BMX bikes, roofie people dancing around the world but MAD already got that one.
In order to play this game, it is important to understand the dark side and know what people do to promote their stuff. I shouldn’t call it the “dark side.” Yes, I know my way around the importance of statistics and what that means, but really I leave that at the day job. Trying to get many people go to Raincity Studios, Raincitystudios.com, we have blog post and pods for your podcast for your entertainment.
However, when I come home from work that stuff doesn’t matter. I get validation when someone sends me an e-mail and said, “I go to a private Christian boarding school in the middle of nowhere and your podcasts are the only thing that keeps me entertained.” Oh man, that’s way more validated than, “I had 143,000 hits on my YouTube video of me Smashing my Nuts in a Vice” John the Kung Fu master was there and it’s easy to collect these hits. There are thousands of people and you got all these people coming to your site but really what’s the point of it? Is there something you’re getting out of it? What is this question mark? Tell me. Do you know? The underpant gnomes are trying to figure out.
I know a bunch of WordPress blogs, I put my own podcasts up. I don’t expect anyone ever goes to the web pages. There really would be no reason to. So, they give you the little things that tell you how many folks came by.
They start looking at and it’s like almost all of them are purple kush, which is a very specific kind of weed, I did an episode about it. It turns out it’s far and away my most popular one ever and it’s just some random one that was me in the garage. It’s like purple kush. I really feel like I gain a lot more insight into my listeners now. They know six ways to write purple kush.
So, they use a purple kush like whenever I look at it, always purple kush on top. I wish I could get purple kush seeds and there might be a monetization scheme there.
So, then I thought about ordinary people stuff like a little blog that I put up all the stuff that doesn’t fit in my podcast and all that and to see like, “Wow, I wonder how many people stop by.” I trimmed off the sides so people wouldn’t laugh [inaudible 00:51:26] my blog when I saw the 420 number, I guess I had to [inaudible 00:51:28].
There’s too [inaudible 00:51:33] that day there I forgotten, I want to know when the Remembrance Day activities were, so I put up a post that said, Remembrance Day activist in Vancouver. It turns out a bunch of other people are wondering that same thing where I just put out the thing, go to Victory Square at 11:00 for that and a whole bunch of people were interested in the same thing.
Then they came and then they all left and never came back and this is the one where I put Barack Obama’s position on the medical marijuana and but it turns out that guy, Barack, he’s got a whole bunch of people on the internet that are really into him.
So, if you can get over and find fulfillment in the things other than stats you’ll be a Happy Buddha.
Then it’s time to reap the grand rewards of all your diligence and all your restructuring and refocusing your thinking and diligently working on your craft and putting so much translucency in yourself into that, that it becomes art. Now, it’s time to reap the rewards. When do you reap the rewards? Probably when you’re dead. I think, “quando” means “when I’m hoping it does.” Does it?
Dave: It’s hard to find a whole variety of Spanish words written on media distribution boxes. The success might come long after your death. That’s what happened to all the other ones but so what, you’re enjoying the ride. Don’t look for the rewards. Rewards are just going to come themselves because the reward really is creating something that might have a chance of affecting someone in a way that means something rather than dancing around the world.
What was that? Is that important? I think in 50 years people are going to be like, “Oh, look what he’s done. Back in the early days the world was separated with violence, then one man went around the world and danced.” It’s an awesome trivia. Looks like he’s having great, fucking fun. I don’t know how you get that job. Rob, can I get that on the expense account.
It’s very subjective and I don’t want to get up in a high horse and say that everything has to be important and if it’s not important, don’t bother doing it but the fact of the matter is, there are certain artifacts that affect the course of human history. I don’t mean on the big grand scale. It can be on a very small scale. That comes from really pouring yourself into it and not settling for kind of giving yourself a half past effort.
This is my quantifying speech here so I needed a proper slide for that. So, that’s the big thing I think that’s really important to realized that while all of these monks were transcribing and drinking their beer, people were chiseling, all of a sudden we have web you just sit down here we are typing. You might as well, since you’re taking the time already, you might as well take the time to do something really good.
As the hippie say, either you’re on the bus or you’re off the bus. You must decide if you are prepared to make an effort to pour yourself out there to the people and declare yourself and let your freak flag fly.
This is what I was going to leave you with, an inspirational quote from Henry David Thoreau about deliberately trodding the path and all this kind of stuff but I couldn’t find it in the book there and plus this would also be a good reason for you to go listen to my — I have my spoken word literary podcast that no one listens to.
So, if you want to hear the big quote I was going to read you, just listen to the, whole back catalog. Download the whole back catalog and listen through it and you’ll just know the part there that Henry David Thoreau is telling you the importance of you going out there and deliberately strive and do these things, just good stuff happens. There’s something about karma in there.
Then I was also going to tell you the part about, to translate that to geek speak is there’s something more important than working diligently to help build Bill Lumberg in stock percentage, one quarter percent.
END OF AUDIO
Duration: 55 minutes 41 seconds