aNaMaRiA ~ artblog

Friday, March 25, 2011

Notes from Shaun Tan's Essay on Originality and Creativity

Mentoring and teaching art students has been a wonderful experience for me! I find myself learning so much from them! I've not only learned about techniques, composition, colour theory or concept development, but also about creativity! In every meeting I confirm that an art class is a place for self-expression, to feel free to create without judgment, and to explore one's curiosity about art and life. There's no room for perfection in art practice... only for experimentation :)

And so, this reflection reminded me of Shaun Tan, one of the artists I most admire, and of his generous way of giving advice to emerging visual-storytellers like me. Here are some quotations taken from his essay on Originality and Creativity:

My own experience is that inspiration has more to do with careful research and looking for a challenge; and that creativity is about playing with what I find, testing one proposition against another and seeing how things combine and react.

Often the most interesting stories are the ones which tell us things that we already know but haven’t yet articulated in our minds. Or more precisely, they encourage us to look at familiar things in different ways, as if to remind us of their true meaning; the way we live, the things we encounter, the way we think and so on.

I realised that what I had to do was to extend the metaphorical logic of the text even further, and introduce more unexpected ideas to build a parallel story of my own. Not an illustration of the text, but something to react with it symbiotically.

I’m often thinking of different things I’ve read, or particular words, while I draw and paint which best express the particular poetry of colour, line and form I am after.

For me, that’s what creativity is - playing with found objects, reconstructing things that already exist, transforming ideas or stories I already know. It’s not about the colonisation of new territory, it’s about exploring inwards, examining your existing presumptions, squinting at the archive of experience from new angles, and hoping for some sort of revelation. What really matters is whether we as readers continue to think about the things we have read and seen long after the final page is turned.


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