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How to BE a Presentation God

For artists and makers, an invitation to give a presentation about their work provides a fantastic opportunity to reach a new audience. After all, aren't you the world wide expert on your work? Yet, time and again, artist lectures too often turn out to be 45 minutes of tedium. 

My own fear of such a fate causes me to constantly seek out and read books or guides for tips to improve my presentation content and presentation skills. While there is no substitute for practice, a superb book on this topic recently came to my attention.  How to Be a Presentation God  brings the expert perspective of Scott Schwertly offering his "no excuses" outlook on creativity. And gaining insight into creativity is always inspiring for the artist inside us all.

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Schwertly's website Ethos3 is definitely worth a look, especially the remarkable presentation using what they call Motion Design. Once you start watching, it is impossible to stop watching. Click on the video below.

I'd like to share a few paragraphs from his book and hope that it might inspire you to either read the book or take the philosophy back to your studio.

"The first ideas that come to your head are most likely the easiest, most conventional, and the most boring ideas you will have." "Your brain will sabotage your efforts at brilliance by attempting to find the easiest, most accessible solution for any problem it is faced with."

"A great way to hurdle this unfortunate mental obstacle is to begin every brainstorming session thinking about what not to do.  Work with partners to determine what is cliché, what is expected, what has been heard over and over and over and over again. Record these ideas and you'll begin to find the empty space- the place where you have an opportunity to approach the topic from a fresh angle, Introduce a new idea, or catch your audience off-guard. Accomplishing a sense of originality is like putting a massive sail on the canoe of your presentation. It will take you further than even your hardest work." (Page 69, 71)

Spray-Starch-Presentation

I think this idea from Schwerty applies to both work in the studio and for presentations. 
For example, I took a bold risk for a lecture at the Matrilineage series of lectures for Syracuse University. I gave my entire lecture while standing at an ironing board ironing on stage. Seven years later, I met a young woman who introduced herself to me as a student in the audience. She said it was the only artist's lecture she remembered in the four years of art school.

Moving on... to a comment about creativity that I thought was worth noting from Schwertly: "Contrary to popular belief, creativity is both culture and practice; it is not a gift that some people just have and others don't." page 71

For me, one of the top "lecture sins" is when the speaker does not connect with the audience.  For example, I sometimes get the feeling that the speaker is trying to prove how smart they are.  In such cases, a comment from Scott Schwertly comes to mind -- "My mission when on stage is not to stun the audience with illustrious vocabulary and capacity for arcane bits of knowledge. It is to efficiently transmit a valuable concept or idea to their heads with as little interference as possible. If a 10-year-old can't follow me, then an adult whose attention is split between his or her Blackberry and my voice can't either." Page 74 

It is super interesting that the author separates creativity and execution. "Creativity is about solving a problem; ...Execution is the sterile, technical implementation of your creative ideas." (page 133)

Grap the book and read more...

Links to Amazon are affiliate links that may provide this blog with a few cents to cover expenses. Your support is much appreciated.

 


Creativity & Creative Confidence

The simple pencil is a power tool and metaphor.  A pencil line on paper is a physical expression of a thought -- but it can also be erased -- which allows for mistakes, adjustments, and corrections without judgment or consequence. 
The pencil enables creativity.
Pencil3web
Throughout the fabrication of my installation, Pick Up Your Pencils, Begin, I often thought about the many meanings and iconic potential of the pencil as both medium and message.
Pencils-Magic-Test-Star-Student

The pencil may be relegated to filling in a bubble on a standardized test.  Or the pencil can be a medium for learning and fostering creative confidence.

Two fabulous interviews with noteworthy innovators highlight the creative process and the necessity to actively expend effort to achieve creative outcomes.

Creative-Confidence-Unleashing-the-Creative-Potential-Within-Us-AllThis first interview is with Tom & David Kelley of the design and innovation firm IDEO speaking about their book "Creative Confidence - Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All

The Charlie Rose program is embedded in this blog or can be watched on the Charlie Rose website.

Their primary message is that everyone can be creative. "We have to stop this process in which we divide everyone into the creatives and the non-creatives." 

"It isn't like creativity comes from on high. You still have to work at it. Your intuition is informed by your experience. The more times you have gone down this path, coming up with a new idea, testing it with people, and trying to understand the right thing, your intuition is informed, so it is easier to leap to that big idea."

The effort of trying, testing, and experiencing failure is a very familiar scenario in my studio. When I struggle to bring new work to fruition, I know the effort, frustration and the failure.  The self-judgment of the early, lesser outcomes drives the learning and paths to experiment with new directions.

I highly recommend watching this interview and reading the book. There are many insightful comments during the interview.  A comment that particularly resonated with me was, "None of our processes gets you away from the creative leap to a new place."  In other words, a creative leap is going where you have never gone before. A leap is a big jump, not a baby step -- a jump that you would not have recognized unless you had already tried the many baby steps.

There is a 2nd interview that I want to mention in this discussion about creativity.

Red-George-Jensen-Sothebys-cuListen to this Charlie Rose show (below) with Jony Ive, Senior Vice President of Design at Apple, and with industrial designer, Marc Newson. They discuss their "craft" of design. Generally they focus on objects they've designed for the Red collaboration at Sotheby's.

Red-George-Jensen-SothebysThey certainly do know "craft" despite their design background. They describe the gorgeous sterling silver pitcher (left) designed by Henning Koppel for George Jensen with reverence for the craft process. They understand and value "the making" of an object.

A surprising revelation  is that Jony's father was a silversmith, and Marc Newson studied metalsmithing. They discuss this object twice so listen all the way to the end of the show. 

The lecture is embedded in this post or go full screen right here.

Red-George-Jensen-Sothebys-side-viewListen carefully for how they describe their design process at length. Each insight is a treat...but what I always appreciate between the lines is that they never say it is easy. They work at their designs. They open the topic of design, simplicity, function, the beauty of objects, the function of tools, and transcending function to achieve aesthetics. The process of making, with consideration of the materials and the fabrication, is integrated into their thinking.

"So much of what we do is trying to imagine something that doesn't yet exist." 

The final thought for today is that they mention sitting and drawing in their sketch books.  

I imagine that they are using PENCILS.

Creative Commons License

 


Rude, Insulting, Closed Minded, Uncivil, Angry, Aggressive

Rude Online Behavior
For some months, I have been appalled by the name calling, swearing, belligerent, and deliberately inflammatory comments that often arise in online discussions.
The bitterness, rancor, devaluation, and harsh judgements appear in multiple locations, and in different networks.

Be-Good-Randy-CohenRandy Cohen in his book BE GOOD observed that a "savage response" solidifies disagreement, makes enduring enemies, changes nobody’s thinking, garners no dinner invitations."

Cohen continues: "And so eventually I forsook the pleasure of the punch-up for another strategy: a  soft answer turneth away wrath.”
He says: “I began ignoring the tone of even the angriest e-mails and responding courteously to the sense of it. Just as an experiment. Often, even the author of a barbarous e-mail would then reply politely. Sometimes he’d apologize for his initial intemperance. My first, unworthy, thought, I’d hit upon a cunning way to make my tormentor feel guilty while I seized the moral high ground. Brilliant!”

“My second thought was to recall that Lincoln had invoked something similar in March of 1861, in his First Inaugural Address, in regard to a vastly graver conflict, urging “Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection,” and appealing to “the better angels of our nature.” Even for something as modest as an e-mail [or online] argument, that’s excellent advice.

Endorsement is not necessary, but  if you agree with this post about online discussion etiquette consider sharing it on your social network, adding your own ideas in the comments, or adopting it as your policy.
Politely, 

ChamberpotwithheadofnapoleonPotUPDATE: Brigitte Martin recently wrote a post on Crafthaus about a parallel topic titled: Feeling Superior Does Not Help With Anything.

Martin says: "I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of the unmerciful, self-anointed experts on either end of the spectrum who think nothing of dragging someone else down publicly and having their buddies cheer them on to boot. This is called bullying in my book and it really has to stop!" 

Read her entire post by clicking on the title above.

Twitter and Facebook are now taking proactive approaches to bullying. A 2012 article on the Huffington Post says, "Are you surprised to learn that 15,000 bullying-related tweets are posted daily?"   Twitter now has a Twitter Help Center to report Online Abuse.

A previous post was a review of the book: BE GOOD- Ethical decisions & advice

 


BE GOOD- Ethical decisions & advice

Be-Good-Randy-Cohen I found this book Be Good by accident at the library, and ever since I opened the book it is hard to put it down.

Why? Randy Cohen writes about challenging ethical dilemmas, exploring a wide range of issues, but cuts right to the core offering a clear recommendation with a delightful sense of humor.

No wonder about the humor.....he used to write for David Letterman.

BE GOOD is endless entertaining because of Cohen's acerbic wit and sense of humor but he doesn't drift from difficult topics.  Chapters include: "Money, Love  & Sex, Community,  School, Religion, Work, Arts, and Community." That was just a few that I read first. There are many more chapter topics.

ARTISTCOLORBe-GoodIf you read ASK Harriete, you'll know that I have been discussing ethical issues within the art and craft community. It isn't easy to tease apart the tangle that new technologies are placing on our workbench. (Lots more to say about this in past and future posts.)

In the chapter about "Technology"
Cohen is able to digest many of the issues into one sentence that resonated with me as a tool that I will keep forever:

"When You injure yourself, that is unfortunate; when you injure someone else, that is unethical."

ColorCombinationBeGoodThink about that one statement in regards to the arts and crafts community before copying  instructional materials, content, ideas, or images.

Here is one quote from the  "Community" chapter that applies to many ethical and legal issues in the arts and crafts community.

"To lead an ethical life requires us to empathize with other people and ask, 'What circumstances would induce a person to behave this way?' "

This is where discussing the legal and ethical issues and behavior needs to come to the surface, bubble up from the depth of private whispers, and become a construct for  a health vibrant craft community. While giving people the benefit of the doubt that they did not understand the impact of their actions.....and then, discuss the ethical use of copyright materials.

  • Use tutorials and instructional materials for what they were intended….. your personal use. 
  • Do not copy, distribute or share tutorials or instructional materials unless you wrote the content.
  • Do not sell or exhibit work  derived from tutorials, workshops, or books.
  • Teach only materials for which you are qualified Master, not an imposter.
  • Be more specific about how books, tutorials and information are to be used ethically and legally.

 

TRUSTCOLOR3The ethical and legal problems surfacing are not just limited to one media. I have heard stories for years, but often lacked the tools for how to address the issues. That is what I think is so helpful about reading Be Good and practice discussing ethics.

The problems are growing exponentially with the Internet and digital technologies. While the issues/solutions  are rarely black and white, there are definitely ethical boundaries that we should not cross in our "desire for attention" or "carelessness, provided no one will notice."

"These serious issues pervade the craft community. But too often the  elephant in the room is an unspoken concern of being ostracized by one's own community for being outspoken despite the honesty.  We should not be afraid to discuss difficult topics."

I highly recommend reading the book "BE GOOD."   

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Risky is the New Safe -- Inspired Opinions

Risky-Is-The-New-SafeI just finished reading the book Risky is the New Safe by Randy Gage.* The book raised many concepts that were exciting, challenging or thought provoking.
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For me, it is inspiring to discover this kind of external encouragement while making new work or  writing a challenging keynote lecture for the upcoming  conference Synergy 3**.

It takes a lot of guts to voice strong opinions or do anything counter to the status quo, but  
"...the safe route always leads to mediocrity, and that is the real risk." 

Below, are a few quotes from "Risky is the New Safe" (in red italic) and some information that I think artists and makers may find inspiring.

 Artists and makers, you "know that unconventional approaches, contrarian thinking, and innovation-- which sometimes means tipping things upside down, and sometimes means beginning with a blank canvas".....this is "where the real magic is."

FIND YOUR NICHE MARKET "Seek out the challenges, determine what the problems will be and who will be facing them, because therein lie the greatest opportunities for contrarians, critical thinkers, and people willing to take risks."

You know, the internet is such a part of our lives and yet we forget the fact that e-marketing is still in its INFANCY! Randy Gage writes:  “The statistics you read about online commerce may seem mind-blowing, and the numbers grow substantially every season, but you have to keep in mind that we are still at the very, very earliest stages of online purchasing right now. Those huge sales figures you see reported today are miniscule in comparison to what they will be in 5 to 10 years.”

Now, what does this mean for artists and makers? How can we be a part of the future of e-commerce? What are the tools we need? Learn more about upcoming topics at the Professional Development Seminar. (More information at the bottom of this post.)***

"Success is simply a continuous process of conquering challenges."

Recently, I took several C.D.s out of the library from the Beatles and Annie Lennox. Both are music phenomena. Their music has had longevity, power and each a singular voice....well, guess what?  They have tons of music that aren't hits, but they kept on creating. That is what it takes to be successful, and even the most well known, most successful people don't produce hits all the time, but they keep working. They keep making.

"Successful people are people in motion. They move a step closer to their dream daily. They are in action every day, even when they don't feel like it. This takes motivation."

Risky is the New Safe is worth reading.
I recommend getting this book from your local library, uploading it to your I-pad...or buying the book to savor every word.



*Risky is the New Safe is an affiliate link



** 
Join me at Synergy3
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My lecture  is titled:
CREATING, CONNECTING, COMMUNITY
Creativity is rooted in self reflection, personal expression, and social context. But context comes by connecting to a larger community. The Internet encourages “Us” to share, but tutorials, books, and social networks sometimes facilitate copying or infringement with questionable consequences. Do we understand the impact of copying, under- pricing, sharing information, and skills that someone else invented? A challenge to the status quo is worth considering.

Your comments about this topic are most welcome.

 

***
All you Can Eat Website The  SNAG Professional Development Seminar will be discussing the future issues surrounding web sites, and e commerce for artists and makers with our guest speakers from All You CAN Eat Website. All You Can Eat Website Services Justin Hartzman, Michael Koral, Jeremy Poriah will be offering some insight into our long range planning for your on line presence. Don't miss the PDS!


Talent, and White Noise, Testing Your Core

Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah ThortonworldI just finished reading the book Seven Days in the Art World. It is a real eye opener! Both depressing and shocking, I would recommend reading this book if you can stand being confronted with the inequity and inequality of the art world vs. craft world.

I think it is important to view another perspective, but it is very challenging to your core. It's like standing on one leg while lifting weights. If you can survive the set, your balance will be stronger, but it takes practice.(I have more to say, but it will be another post.)

Here are two of my favorite quotes from this book which apply to everyone.

Paul Schimmel, chief curator of the Musuem of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA (or MOCA), discusses the concept of talent and what makes a good artist:


"Talent is a double-edged sword. What you are given is not really yours. What you work at, what you struggle for, what you have to take command of -- that often makes for very good art.” Seven Days in the Art World, Chapter title: The CRIT, page 72

The next quote was about writing art critiscm but I think it applies to any creative endevor. It is from the New York times critic Roberta Smith:

“When you are writing, you have a lot of white noise. Doubt is a central part of intelligence, and doubt is hard to control. What I do is I write first and question myself later. After my deadline, I have a little whimper session: I feel bad about something; it could have been better; certain people are going to hate me the next day.” Seven Days in the Art World, Chapter The Magazine, page 172

As a maker it is so hard to shut down the "white noise" and doubt, and yet, it is absolutely to put your blinders on and go forward.

More discussion follows soon.
Harriete

Below is a short video from the author Sarah Thorton talking about the seven chapters of her book.



Full disclosure: Images and links for this book are affiliate links. I love my local library and did not buy the book, but instead paid for inter-library loan.

Happy Chanukah or "Eating Chinese Food on Christmas"

Chanukah already started and I forgot to tell you about my favorite books and resources for contemporary Judaica. The selection is small, in my opinion, but the potential audience for this genre has room for growth.

500 JudaicaLast year Lark Books published 500 Judaica: Innovative Contemporary Ritual Art. (Affiliate link) I  am very pleased to say that I have have several pieces in this book.    


A Collector's Guide to Judaica

 A Collectors' Guide to Judaica(Affiliate link) has an interesting selection of historical pieces with informative text. (It only has a few 20th century peices of Judaica.) 

 

 

 

Are you looking for images of contemporary Judaica that is not the generic gift store item?

L'ChaimThe Contemporary Jewish Museum still has a selection of catalogs from their Invitational Exhibitions. (The Museum Store ships domestically and internationally. Place an order by email, store@thecjm.org, or phone, 415.655.7888.)

In the order listed here (right):
L'Chaim!: A Kiddush Cup Invitational

 

Making ChangeMaking Change: 100 Artists Interpret the Tzedakah Box.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ScentsofPurposeScents of Purpose: Artists Interpret the Spice Box

 

 

 

 

 

New WorksOldStories 


New Works, Old Stories

These catalogs are not listed online, but they are all beautifully executed with images of Judaica within traditional forms and beyond the expected.

Email me, I will make a recommendation for a catalog based on your interest.

BermanBookManCreation

Participation in the exhibitions at the Contemporary Jewish Museum has offered me the opportunity to create museum quality Judaica.

Many of the pieces that I made for these exhibitions have been purchased for the permanent collections of museums.

BermanBook7DayCreation

Shown to the left is "And there is Light" a spice book that holds a Havdalah box. 



If you are interested, all of my Judaica is shown on my web site.

Book with Havadalah Spice Box by Harriete Estel Berman
"And There was Light"                  2004

Seven hinged panels to create an accordion style book with removable Spice Box. This contemporary Judaica is constructed from recycled tin cans, spice tins, vintage steel dollhouses, 10 k. gold rivets, aluminum rivets, stainless steel screws. Available for purchase or exhibition.

Each panel    14.25” height x 9” width
Length of book completely open is 54".

 

Menorah by Harriete Estel Berman
Facets of Light        1999

Menorah constructed from pre-printed steel from recycled tin containers, "Pushke" Boxes used for the Jewish National Fund, and pre-printed steel from vintage doll houses. Aluminum rivets. One-half inch acrylic cubes function as feet under the menorah. Available for purchase or exhibition.

3" height x 21" width x 25.5" length

Menorah Jewish Star by Harriete Estel Berman from recycled materials.


M2L_YellowFlowerScroll72. askH
M2L_YellowFlowerScroll_bkah

Yellow Flower Scroll Doorpost Mezuzah
Dimensions: 7.25” Inventory number M2L.220
Retail Price $220. (Scroll not included)


Things to Make and Do with Your Digital Photos - Opportunity and Opportunity Cost

If you work with digital photos, here is an opportunity.  A new book, "Things to Make and Do with Your Digital Photos' is looking for submissions.

ASK Harriete PinkBlack Quarto does a nice job publishing their books and they say, "If we select your work for inclusion we will ask you to send the actual piece to us for photography." That means that the photos will be of good quality and consistency throughout the book. All that is great.  Here is the application. Download Quintet Call forDigitalImagesSubmissions

Reservation
Sign by Custom Signs Express

On the other hand, I have serious reservations because of the "strings attached."  If your work is accepted, they then require that you also submit "a Word document with step-by-step instructions for remaking the project."  

In other words you will be giving away your ideas and the process involved in making your work.

COMPASSdrawing I have a professional concern about the current mania for step-by-step projects.  If you participate, you are giving away your ideas and fabrication methods, literally showing other people how to duplicate your work.   I don't care if it is for 30-minute earrings, a master goldsmith project, or developing a technique for using digital photos.   

When someone starts selling work that looks like yours, you can not complain, nor send a Cease and Desist letter nor file a law suit.  Protecting your copyright and ideas would be impossible if you agree to publish a step by step project of your design or process. 

You decide.  Is the visibility worth it?

Or can you design a project that doesn't give away your signature idea or methods?

Is this an opportunity?  What is the real cost of this opportunity?

SewingPATTERN To be perfectly clear, my reservation about "how to project" books is not directed to any specific publisher. Step by step instructions have a role for children's art projects and sewing patterns as two great examples.

But when a book publisher asks artists to make their work into a step by step project for other people to copy, this  is crossing a line.

This deserves careful consideration before action.  What do you think?
 
Harriete




Tag Lines and Tagalongs -- Like Girl Scout Cookies, Wildly Popular and not really good for you.

"What should I use for a tag line?" A very common question posed to ASK Harriete.  Tagalongs Tag lines are popular, and like Tagalong Girl Scout cookies, somewhat over rated, and not really good for you.

Sorry to be so harsh, but I am kind of bemused. It seems that tag lines are something that people consider important  way too early in their art/craft business career. When they are still figuring out what their best products will be, the aesthetic styling of their business cards, and the work they plan to make, they want to believe that a "perfect" tag line is going to bring it all into focus for them and their customers.

Whoa!!!!!! I've looked in every book on my shelves about art and craft business management (I have lots) and only one had any suggestions about tag lines. Art Marketing 101 gives this topic a small half page. They describe a tag line as "similar to a slogan." They continue, "A tag line should note the physical features of your artwork, the emotional aspects and the special qualities. As an artist, you also want your tag line to help define the style and /or subject matter of your artwork..." 

Fine, all good, but your tag line should not become a priority in your business. Don't buy 500 cards with tag lines on them thinking you'll explode on the scene and have your business figured out.

Only time and experience is going to help you figure out your artwork, aesthetic, and the style of work that is selling.  Who knows, you might even find more than one niche market so that your marketing will have to change or adapt depending on the context.

MOOcardsHORIZONTAL72 If you want tags or tag lines, or even business cards that can function as both...try starting out small. Moo cards are a flexible solution. They let you print 100 cards and all of them different for about $20. You can experiment with images and text for a range of variations. Test out your images in a small print format, then see how people respond. 

Another option -  color copy on card stock, and cut up the cards yourself. Do some experimentation before you print 500 of cards that may or may not really work for you.

Tagalongsbox Forgive me, I must have Girl Scout Cookies on the brain since my husband brought home a couple of boxes.  (I've eaten them but I really wish he hadn't purchased them, and instead made a donation.)

Tagalongs are described as "Tasty cookies topped with creamy peanut butter and covered with a luscious chocolaty coating."  That tag line for Tagalongs sounds really yummy and descriptive, but, have you ever read the ingredients? The cookies are really a combination of partially hydrogenated oils and sugar with very little peanut butter or chocolate. The cookies are not really good for us. Tagalongs cookies have a great tag line sold by cute, adorable, aspiring young girls. Girl Scout cookies have their niche market and they know it well. 

So if you feel you must have a tag line, make it specific, descriptive, memorable, emotional and irresistible.

NOTE:  I am just Harriete (with no tag line).

Harriete

P.S. The web site at Small Biz Bee offers a great article about tag lines that shows you what really works. Follow their sound advice or skip the mushy, vague and ineffective tag lines that most artists and makers use.

MOO cards HORIZONTAL72 PPS. Great MOO discount if you never bought Moo Cards before. A 20% discount off  your entire order until the 30th of March.

Remember, it's only valid until 11.59pm (PT) 30th March 2011 - so place an order before then! You should also  know that the 20% discount does not apply to Shipping, Rush Printing, or Logo Design.