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Thursday
Nov182004

Good Reads: The Hughtrain & How To Be Creative

Last weekend, quite by accident, I came across gapingvoid.com, the weblog of Hugh MacLeod. While browsing there, The HughtrainI stumbled on one of his posts entitled The Hughtrain, Hugh's own variation on the Cluetrain Manifesto (another incredible document well worth reading, if you haven't yet).

Next thing I know, an hour has passed while I read The Hughtrain, complete with laughing at his prose and cartoons, drawn on the backs of business cards. Hughtrain is fresh, unpretentious and challenging, particularly to the brain of this graphic and web designer. (Note for the younguns: Hughtrain contains some pretty strong language at times)

This evening, I stumbled across yet another thought provoking piece by Hugh at Change This, a website filled with manifestos from all sorts of leading edge people. I'd been to Change This a few months ago, but never noticed Hugh's How to Be Creative manifesto.

Once again, many minutes later, I found myself laughing at and appreciating Hugh's thoughts and proverbs. The guy really has a way with words and images. The How to Be Creative piece is an amalgam of 26 secrets Hugh has discovered in his years working as a creative guy, such as:

"I draw on the back of wee biz cards. Whatever.

Thereʼs no correlation between creativity and equipment ownership. None. Zilch. Nada.

Actually, as the artist gets more into his thing, and as he gets more successful, his number of tools tends to go down. He knows what works for him. Expending mental energy on stuff wastes time. Heʼs a man on a mission. Heʼs got a deadline. Heʼs got some rich client breathing down his neck. The last thing he wants is to spend 3 weeks learning how to use a router drill if he doesnʼt need to.

A fancy tool just gives the second-rater one more pillar to hide behind. Which is why there are so many hack writers with state-of-the-art laptops."

I love this approach, because it puts the focus on the person — the artist and not the tools. The right tool is of course part of the deal, but secondary to the artist. My father once put it this way:

"Mike, it's the photographer and not the camera which makes great images. If you give a great photographer a box camera and a bad photographer top of the line gear, the great photographer will still create the better and more artistic photo every single time."

I'll leave you with another insightful tidbit from How To Be Creative:

"The sovereignty you have over your work will inspire far more people than the actual content ever will.

How your own sovereignty inspires other people to find their own sovereignty, their own sense of freedom and possibility, will change the world far more than the the workʼs objective merits ever will.

Your idea doesnʼt have to be big. It just has to be yours alone. The more the idea is yours alone, the more freedom you have to do something really amazing.

The more amazing, the more people will click with your idea. The more people click with your idea, the more it will change the world.

Thatʼs what doodling on business cards taught me."

So, what are you waiting for? Go read The Hughtrain and How To Be Creative! :-)

Reader Comments (2)

Rachel, sorry to hear you felt this way about Hugh's approach, and thanks for the heads up. I've only just started reading his stuff, so haven't yet come to the same conclusion.

But even if I do, the two documents he's written really seemed to hit me in the right spot at the time, so I'll be referring back to them for sure.

Thanks for the comment! :-)
November 20, 2004 | Unregistered CommenterMike Rohde
Hi! Happy Thanksgiving!!! :)



November 25, 2004 | Unregistered CommenterMary

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