Researching my book has been a really interesting experience that I’m thoroughly enjoying. I’m sure I’ll have other options to follow up on, but right now I have four modes of attack that I’m focusing on:
1) Looking at books that are similar to mine.
This is a strategy that I use all the time: find someone who is already successful doing something similar to what you want to do, and research how they got there. So far it seems like there are A LOT of fluffy books out there about “how to be creative”, “tapping into your inner self”, blah blah blah, but the startling thing is that that majority of them are not written by practicing artists. Many are written by so called “creativity experts”, whatever that means. Books that are targeted towards working artists are only about how to sell yourself. I did come across “The Creative Habit” by Twyla Tharp, and “101 Things to Learn in Art School” by Kit White, a visual artist and professor at Pratt. These two books seem to have some similarities to mine, but are still fundamentally different.
2) Finding other “how to be creative” lists and videos.
There are a ton of lists out there on how to be creative, but the main problem I have with most of them is that they offer their advice without actually telling you how to do it. And so much of the advice is so incredibly generic, that it’s just not memorable. I stumbled across one list that said “Be yourself”, I mean, really? Fred Lynch, my former RISD professor recommended a short video by Ira Glass titled “Success: Fight your way through it” that I absolutely loved. There’s one part of the video where he critiques a news report he gave when he was at the beginning of his career that is just hilarious and wonderful.
3) Online forums.
I’m usually not a fan of online forums, but I’ve been participating in the online forums on DeviantArt. It’s by far been the most useful online forum for discussion that I’ve found so far. On my Facebook page, all I seem to be getting are really short, one sentence answers. People on the forum are really diverse: there are professionals, students, aspiring students, aspiring professionals, etc. This makes for a great conversation because people are bringing completely different perspectives and concerns to the table that I wouldn’ t have even thought of. It’s a very different community than what I’m used to, which really brings a lot of new perspectives. For example, what does my book offer to someone who is self-taught? The responses are often times very long and thoughtful too which is terrific. A lot of the times people seem to be asking the same questions, and it’s interesting for me to see what are the most common concerns.
4) Directly asking specific friends, colleagues, and former students.
Out of all of my research initiatives, this one has to be the most wonderful of all. I’m getting in touch with tons of people who I haven’t necessarily been in touch with lately, and already everyone has been so positive and supportive. Especially with former students, it’s a trip down memory lane. It’s also gotten me to feel so grateful for the connections I have, and how lucky I am to know so many amazing artists.