Having a style is death part 2

Should I give credit to whoever took this picture? Will I be sued? I freaking love this book.

Austin Kleon’s post on Tibor Kalman’s book Perverse Optimist is incredibly enlightening. Here are all the little points he made and I’ll elaborate on the ones that particularly resonate with me.

1. Everything is an experiment

2. Learn on the job – Kleon’s quote from Kalman’s book says it like this:

It has been a curious phenomenon in my life that I’ve continued pretty much throughout my career; I would try to get the job I couldn’t get, and not know how to do it, and then I would hire people who did know how to do it, and I would direct them. That to me is always the ideal way to work, because you learn very quickly and you have the means to do something, and yet you know nothing about the field, so you can do something original.

Austin (husband Austin, not Austin Kleon) and I talked about his friend Kaiser, who, after his mission, worked at the MTC. But unlike most return missionaries, he did not teach. He totally could’ve done it. He was such a good teacher and missionary it made most missionaries ill. But instead he managed to convince the people that he could do IT (i.e. Information Tech stuff) and then he learned how to do it on the job.

How??? HOW?? I struggle myself with just BSing it through the interview, let alone getting a job where I know jack about the work. Still, it’s inspiring and makes me even more optimistic for graduation if things don’t work out for me in journalism and getting a job. I’ve never been unemployed long in my life. I’m not afraid of getting menial jobs that don’t have much to do with my major.

3. As soon as you learn how to do something, move on – again, this is something Kaiser did. Instead of teaching at the MTC, he was over the whole teaching thing and decided “I think I’ll try IT work.” All while being a pre-law Communications major.

4. Having a style is a kind of death – I’ve already elaborated on this, although I’ll continue on it even more below

5. Visual literacy isn’t enough, designers have to read EVERYTHING. – Oi aue. This is some of the best, as well as the most intimidating advice I have ever received. But it’s so true.

The more you know, the more creative you get. You also understand the “why” behind your designs. You’re able to move beyond the trappings of your own “style” and you move forward into understanding greater things of your life. It is so IMPERATIVE.

But…Facebook! Instagram! Tumblr! Other social media that consumes my time!

6. You don’t necessarily have to be visually motivated to be a designer

7. Don’t steal the style, steal the thinking behind the style – this corresponds quite well with numbers 4 and 5. I was imitating the drawing style behind Adventure Time cartoons the other night and I remembered that advice I had received from my animation teacher who I both admired and hated.

There’s an important difference between making an allusion and doing a knock-off. Good historicism is… an investigation of the strategies, procedures, methods, routes, theories, tactics, schemes, and modes through which people have worked creatively…. We need to learn from and interrogate our past, not endlessly repeat its recipes.

Again, what delightful and terrifying advice. Will I ever learn enough to move beyond parroting and repetition to move forward creatively?

8. Photographs are neither true nor false

9. Children give you new ways of looking at things

10. Marry well – Trust me, I did. I’ve become even more hard-working and inspired (and also work out almost daily, which was very challenging before I got married) because of Austin. I love having him in my life. I’d hate to lose him.


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