Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Creative Lineage

In my last post, Steal Like an Artist, I mentioned some of the amazing new ideas that I am learning and processing from reading Austin Kleon's book. Today I really understood what he means about creating your own (artistic) family tree. Building your collection of influences and inspirations that become your new artistic genetic mashup for your future work.

"Seeing yourself as part of a creative lineage will help you feel less alone as you start making your own stuff."

And as we talked about before, it's more than just imitating the style of the work you love, it's understanding WHY it looks that way and WHO the artist is behind it and WHAT inspires THEM...

My newest hero-obsession-artist-role model is Oliver Jeffers. I own a few books of his already since I have been obsessed with childrens books since I was a kid and still collect them and have lots of signed copies... I had found his Hueys book last year and was attracted to it because of the Lilah Bean feel of the characters. But today, a few hours ago... I was reading through my email - quickly - and saw a post from SwissMiss (one of my favorite design blogs) featuring a cool map by Oliver Jeffers. As I said... that was a few hours ago! I explored his website, blog... videos... this guy is amazing! His sense of humor, the way he works, his art, his studio, his sketchbooks.... My newest hero-obsession-artist-role model is Oliver Jeffers.

He has two videos about himself on Vimeo, one from a few years ago and a more recent one, they are both wonderful and the new one is even funnier. Here's the one from 2010, and here is the one from 2013.The videos are a lot like his books (and he has great trailer video FOR the books too!). The funny little details... notice in the second video when he is "hunting" his sandwich for lunch? At the end of the video, he takes a bight of the sandwich, and the spear is still in it! Yes, I think that is hysterical!! :-)

When Oliver talks about all the materials he works with and where he keeps the stories inside himself... there's just no limit to what he is capable of. When he is shuffling through his flat files and notebooks I wanted to pause the film and take a closer look. I love looking at the behind the scenes sketches. But I have flat files and sketchbooks just like those - and that made me feel really good too. Like finding a kindred spirit. I've added Oliver Jeffers to my artistic family tree! His Oliver Jeffers Amazon Author Page has a list of all his books if you are interested.

And here is a photo of my own collection of sketches and notes shot just now on my hotel room floor. This represents about 1/1000th of all my notes and sketches!! :-)

Today is my last day of my oh-my-god-I-need-to-get-away Retreat. I should be doing more drawings for the Fashionista book, or taking a walk, or sleeping... but the internet has distracted me once again! And I felt compelled to distract you as well to share this cool insight. But, I will save you hours of time by providing direct links to all the good stuff! Very considerate, eh?


  1. Sandy, thank you for introducing me to Oliver Jeffers! I SO enjoyed those videos! (Especially the 2013 one.) So if I were ever to host my dream dinner party, I'd invite him, too. I'd seat him next to you, of course!

  2. I just love reading your blog Sandy!

  3. Oh my gosh! He is easy on the eyes too! Sorry, Sandy but I appreciate a good lookin man. Yes, his art is fun too - but oh my those eyes.

    1. Mmmmhmmm... I agree, but I didn't want to say in the post... you know... just in case he ever googled himself and saw it. hee hee.

  4. Another inspiring introduction, Sandy. BTW, I pulled up my copy of 'Steal Like An Artist' and reread it. Three times. Thanks for the reminder, more timely then you can imagine. Hugs to you.

    1. And Sheri thank you so much for sending me those two books! I just opened the package and was so surprised! They look really good and "timely". ;-) They will take me much longer to read though as there are no pictures and they have big-people typesetting. Be patient with me.

  5. Thanks for introducing him to us. I had NO idea what goes into the illustration of a book, much less having all those ideas for the story swirling around in your head. No wonder people need yoga for the brain. And Janet, you're right, he's yummy. I went to Amazon and read the blurb and comments about the book about the crayons. WT??? people. It's too negative??? It's a children's book. I feel sorry for your kids. That wouldn't enter their minds, except for you. But, I digress, keep blogging and sharing these great people with us.

    1. And he's Irish...

      Amazon... if you really want to start your day off wrong, read some reviews on Amazon. Every once in a while I read through reviews of my books - so I can get some feedback for future books. Some are really wonderful, and a few are idiotic. Guess which ones I obsess about all day? BTW - I LIKE the crayons. :-)

  6. Replies
    1. Oh dear - are we going to have to duel it out? ;-)
      He's probably married anyway. Phew. We can all still be friends.

  7. After reading Steal Like an Artist, I've become aware of more patterns in my life. Two+ months ago I bought a Kindle PaperWhite and since then have read more books in that period than I have over the past two years, including Steal Like an Artist.

    Without thinking about it, I found myself gravitating toward non-fiction accounts of actors/artists/authors. Within that, I was reminded of two things that have broken up a bit of a log jam I was having.

    The first (from a writer) said that the only way you can produce is to do it and the only way you can do it is commit uninterrupted time to the task of at least 1 hour a day. She went on to discuss how that 1 hour can be whittled away via distractions, which is exactly what was happening to me. I do have time to do what I want to do and I took the time to do it, but during that time, didn't do it.

    The second advice from The Shark Tank's new book, with David Polanzak saying that in the beginning of a project, one believes that they can do way too much in a short time, but cannot see how doing some of the stuff benefits you in the long run. In my case, I felt that I could continue doing what I love AND take on a full-time consulting job AND take on 2.5 hours of commuting a weekday and not be affected by it. And in that mode, I forgot about how a very short dedicated time set aside daily could influence the future.

    Loved your blog today and hope that your new retreat will be getting on with your life's joy and work.


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