Games, Design & Game Design

I Stole This Post

In Commentary, Links, My Thoughts On, Self-Reflection on April 2, 2011 at 9:33 am

A seriously inspirational set of advice crossed my digital desk this morning (thanks to @smashingmag). It’s worth reading in it’s entirety (plus he has funny cartoons), but I want to reproduce the list cuz, y’know, it seems like a good idea. With some of my own comments, of course.

How To Steal Things Like An Artist (And 9 Other Things Nobody Told Me) by Austin Kleon

Steal Like An Artist (nothing is original, every idea is a mashup of other ideas, the artist is a collector not a hoarder, garbage in garbage out)

It’s really disheartening when you get halfway through a project and then you find that link to that site that’s showing something that you missed when you were doing your research and you’re all “crap, that’s totally my idea.” But all that means is that you have to do your best to make yours better.

Don’t Wait Until You Know Who You Are To Make Things (making things is how you find yourself, fake it ’til you make it)

If there’s one thing my grad school experience has taught me so far, it’s that my conception of “who I am as a designer” is going to be in flux for a long time. It’s a serious issue, because it’s really difficult to stand behind your work when, in the process of creating that work you discover that it’s not really the kind of work you want to do. Some of my classmates are still absolutely paralyzed by this issue of creative identity. I’ve tried to work around it by thinking of all my work as conditional, but this works better some times than others. Like anything else, it’s a function of just doing more work and learning from it. I hope.

Write The Book You Want To Read (write what you like, all fiction is fan fiction, make what you want to see in the world)

Well, yah. This one seems easy to me. It’s kind of what designers do.

Use Your Hands (your fingers are the original digits, bring your body into your work)

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. I’m still not very good at it (both the skill and making it a part of my daily routine), but hand sketching and physical modeling is so much more productive than working on the computer. Even after less than 2 years I see a qualitative difference in the work produced by people who draw more – hint, it’s better.

Side Projects And Hobbies Are Important (side projects are the ones that blow up, have something that’s just for you)

Last week we went on an office visit to gravitytank and local design luminary Craighton Berman had a similar piece of advice. “Have a side hustle,” he said “that’s the stuff that blows up, and informs your ‘real work’, and they’re both better for it.” I’m inclined to listen, as he does real nice work.

More after the jump.

THE SECRET: Do Good Work, And Put It Where People Can See It (it’s not that people are mean they’re just busy, doing good work is the hardest part, put it on the internet, wonder at things nobody else is wondering at, there’s no penalty for revealing your secrets, connect with people who care about the same things you do and share with them)

I think the indie RPG scene has confirmed this one for me.

Geography Is No Longer Our Master (find your scene wherever you can, it’ll probably be on the internet)

Ditto. Though, I think that the reinforcement of internet relationships with occasional real-world hanging out is the best way to go about this. Cuz it rules.

Be Nice (The World Is A Small Town) (everybody has a google alert on their name, the best way to vanquish your enemies is ignore them, the best way to make friends is to say something nice about them)


Be Boring (It’s The Only Way To Get Work Done) (your work will expand to take the time you have for it, take care of yourself, stay out of debt, get a day job and keep it, make a calendar and a log book, marry well)

This is probably the most variable of these and highly dependent on personal circumstances. In general, though, it makes sense to me. If you can’t support yourself, you can’t do good work, so what’s the point?

Creativity is Subtraction (devoting yourself to something means shutting yourself off from other things, embrace your limitations, what you don’t show is as important as what you show)

Lovely thought, I’m not really sure what it means when mapped against my experiences. More to learn!

Always more to learn.


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