Artifact dossier: Collage art boards from “Forgotten Vancouver Stories (aka Poets, Punks and Revolutions)” spiel presented in various formats at Pecha Kucha Night Vancouver, All-start edition, and Northern Voice 2013 closing keynote. Video and roundup of both prezos exists elsewhere in this archive.
Each collage “slide” was handmade (obviously) with ephemera from my personal collection (exceptions credited on final “slide”) then, arranged on hemp cloth “storyboards”, photographed by Rachel Ashe, then disassembled. An analog to digital remix of sorts. Presented here in rather large size for your printing/screensaver/ amusement and posterity.
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 roadI’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 futurewhile 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 SchwagNo 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 + IntentInstead 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 TranslucencyTransparency 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 HSTI 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 TrainingNow 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 PreciousWith 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 GatekeepersThe 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 drummersOne 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 wayTravelling 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 yourselfEveryone 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 RewardsMaking 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 looseI’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
I also had the thrill of heading up the road to Pecha Kucha Whistler in April of 2012. Check out this just-released version of my talk and slideshow where I show 20 slides for 20 seconds each and share my views on art, being a creator, and sharing with an audience:
Here’s the intro excerpt for my presentation:
Writer Dave Olson speaks about his personal experiences, explaining his view on art, and how to be a successful creator. He shares his opinions on how to develop and maintain a personal vision, and examines the space where vision and audience intersect.
If my prezo brought you any inspiration at all feel free to give it an applause or share it with your social networks.
I really enjoyed Dave Olson‘s (aka. Uncle Weed) talk, more for the flow and ebb of it than anything. As he walked about on stage I winced every step he took on account of the cast on his right foot.
He walked around a lot.He talked a lot about his idea of what it means to succeed, or at least progress as a human and explore ones own creativity and self, which I think is fairly accurately depicted by the photograph below, where the comfort zone is not where we should be hanging out in. It was very clear why this is Dave’s third Pecha Kucha appearance.
Stories and observations gathered from exploring Vancouver’s places and history, then finding inspiration in the forgotten moments, incidents and neighbourhoods and tactics for turning raw materials into craft, and art for the future. As shared by me, Dave Olson, at Pecha Kucha Nght Vancouver, All-Star edition, Leap Day 2012.
Dave Olson was a great closing speaker and echoed many of the points Steven had made in the beginning about Vancouver and how our culture has been and is being shaped. I didn’t really understand what his “job” was, but storyteller is definitely one of them. From his website it looks like he does speaking, writing, and other projects. He lives in Lynn Valley, North Van, which makes it pretty easy to make fun of the other stuff that goes on in the city. You can actually go online to see his presentation slides.
And there was much more. I was dying to hear Dave Olson’s talk. I’d heard him at an earlier Pecha Kucha and never forgotten his passion for the creative process, how he inspired people to think out of the box and give themselves over to art, literature, life. I was also very curious about Danielle LaPorte. But I had to go home to make good on a promise to put my son to bed.
To which i replied:
Indeed, ’tis more important to share time with the lil gaffer! Was nice to see you and wish you coulda heard about my old-skool Vancouver heroes.
This time around, I shared Vancouver cultural anecdotes, forgotten nuggets, and the joy of exploration, then shared how I take my observations and turn into craft and art. Also threw in a few things I’d enjoy improving about our beloved city. 6:40 goes by quick!
I think the talk would work great as an hour+ storytime event along with discussion. Would be pleased to share if someone were to put on an event at a theatre. Any ideas out there?
Danielle LaPorte, who was just as inspiring as I had predicted, sending urgent waves of purpose into the crowd with her messages; and Dave Olson and Andrew Morrison, who unfortunately I had to miss due to the unanticipated late finish.
As I left the iconic theatre I had a sense of fulfillment rising inside me. A sense that perhaps Vancouver is changing. A sense that greatness lives here. People in our community are making differences, they are creating, and they are sharing. Events like PechaKucha are essential in that they breed possibility and oneness.
I was invited to speak at Global Pecha Kucha Day in Vancouver for the worldwide (100 cities or so) “Inspire Japan” event on April 16 2011 at the Cascade Room on Main St. during the day (usually these Pecha Kucha Night Vancouver events are held at the Vogue Theatre in the evening) with a lovely smart audience as usual.
Pecha Kucha Night is a presentation style and a series of lecture events held around the world under license from the originating design firm in Tokyo – in Vancouver by Cause+Affect.
The presentations are exactly 20 slides, switched automatically each :20 seconds. Like speedy lil TED talks with a tendency towards design, architecture, civic planning but speakers include anyone who is doing something interesting really.
Anyhow, the Inspire Japan day’s speakers were asked to speak more or less on 4 main themes. Here’s the instructions:
“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.”
Here are the “paper point” collage slides to peruse at your leisure. Next time you buy me a beer, perhaps i’ll spiel the 20 second annotations to go along with each static montage.
The event was streamed online to coincide with the other events. Watching the Twitter stream to see events roll on and off was pretty neat while riding the SeaBus over – especially from far-flung cities i’ve visited from Osnabrueck to Okayama.
This was a joy for me to produce from my time spent in Japan what seems like a lifetime ago. I dug deep into my personal archive to find some neat artifacts for my deck and discovered a variety of lost memories and forgotten incidents tucked away in boxes and files.
The event raised money for Architecture for Humanity to build a school in Japan which is great to be a part of, but truthfully (and selfishly) this was a chance for me to release some emotion by flashingback about how traipsing around Japan changed my life in many ways.
I don’t really talk about that time as much as other sojourns and, since the earthquake and resultant chaos, i wanted to express something-somehow with some sort of storymaking. This was a perfect chance so i dug deep.
My pal Daniel Robles gave me a hand building the deck and a load of my pals rolled down to the Cascade Room on Main to lend support and inspiration. See also Naoya Makino’s photoset.
Pecha Kucha continues to raise money by marketing an e-book of the poster art from the various Inspire Japan events around the world. Some top-end designers contributed work so bound to be enjoyable for your virtual coffee table.
Thanks to Steven, Jane, and Becki for the invite. Sign me up anytime.