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Rules for the Artist

Photo by Brigh Johnston
  1. Love your experiments. Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.
  2. Go deep. The deeper you go the more likely you will discover something of value.
  3. Capture accidents. The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question. Collect wrong answers as a part of the process.
  4. Study.
  5. Drift. Allow yourself to wander aimlessly
  6. Begin anywhere. Not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis.
  7. Everyone is a leader. Growth happens, whenever it does, allow it to emerge.
  8. Harvest ideas. Produce a high ratio of ideas to application.
  9. Keep moving.
  10. But slow down.
  11. Don’t be cool. Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort.
  12. Ask stupid questions. Growth is fueled by desire and innocence.
  13. Collaborate.
  14. Stay up late. Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far and you’re separated from the rest of the world.
  15. Work the metaphor.
  16. Be careful to take risks. The work your produce today will create your future.
  17. Repeat yourself.
  18. Make your own tools.
  19. Stand on someone’s shoulders.
  20. Avoid software
  21. Don’t clean your desk.
  22. Don’t enter award competitions.
  23. Read only left-hand pages.
  24. Make new words. Expand the lexicon. The new conditions demand a new way of things. The thinking demands new forms of expression.
  25. Think with your mind. Forget technology.
  26. Organization=liberty
  27. Don’t borrow money.
  28. Listen carefully.
  29. Take field trips.
  30. Make mistakes faster
  31. Imitate. Don’t be shy about.
  32. Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.
  33. Explore the other edge.
  34. Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to.
  35. Avoid fields. Jump fences.
  36. Laugh.
  37. Remember. Growth is only possible as a product of history. Without memory, innovation is merely a novelty. History gives growth a direction. But a memory is never perfect. Every memory is a degraded or composite image of a previous moment or event. That’s what makes us aware of its quality as a past and not a present.

All words and photos by Brigh Johnston.


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