I’ve been reading lots of lists of New Years Resolutions and would like to share my own strange list of suggested resolutions for artists, writers and all those outrageous creative types who walk daily on the rough path towards creative meaning. Take them or leave them but I’ve tried all of them at one time or another and found them invigorating and inspiring. They will really get those juices flowing. Trust me. These are in no specific order.
1. Take some of your supposedly awful ideas…long rejected…and transform them into a miracle piece. Rework it. (Terrible ideas…don’t you just love those?) Do this at least twice this year.
2. Set aside a whole day: No plans, no responsibilities. Start driving, biking or walking. Go in unexpected and random directions. Document your day with photos, sketches and odd memorabilia. Do this at least once a month. Warning: This may bring lots of new ideas into your brain. Welcome them, write them down, sketch them, remember them and maybe even sing them.
3. If rejections make you crazy (I know this is true of all of us) do this. Write an incredibly cold and generic rejection letter to that irritating gallery owner, book publisher, juried show, reviewer or person that has pissed you off in the past. Explain why you won’t sell any artwork /stories/songs/books to them, no matter how much money or fame they might offer. Make it clear that they are not worthy of your talent. No amount of compensation will change your mind. The price to them will always be too high! Don’t mail it. Treasure it.
4. Nourish your childish enthusiasm each day of the year. For instance read a small part of a favorite childhood book, look at your old view master discs, notice smells and tastes that remind you of the good parts of being a child. Buy a hula hoop.
5. Give away things, without hesitation, to someone who does need them at the time. You can do this anonymously.
6. Share your talent for free with at least one person per month.
7. Spend a whole day without speaking. Try this once a month. Warn your family and friends.
8. Look for signs during all of the seasons.
9. Be discerning in who you choose to spend time with. Don’t waste your own precious time with unworthy people.
10. Paint, draw, joke, laugh, write, sing, talk and laugh as much as you can.
11. Write, draw or tape a long personal letter. Send one of these to a special person each month. Enclose a picture, photo or clipping that makes you laugh, cry or ponder.
12. Actively acknowledge the people and animals that you love each and every day.
13. Celebrate your birthday for at least a whole week but always try for the longest celebration you can negotiate.
14. Tired and crabby from over creativity? Curl up in your new Snuggie and watch Law and Order, Criminal Minds or Top Chef to rest your brain and renew your energy. (Other programs on TV can be substituted but they must be mindless and must not make you think). Mad Men is a must see. Artists need to be up to date on the latest cultural happenings, news and weird trends. Artists are the canaries in the mine shaft. That is why it’s important to read and watch as much as you can. Become familiar with more of the world than your own little space. Expand your thinking.
15. Find yourself an incredible mentor or creativity coach if you need help on your path.
As I re-read my list I realize it’s a little crazy, sometimes too sentimental and sometimes a little cruel. But I guess so am I. Have a good new year. This list is dedicated to one of the craziest and most influential people I’ve ever known. He was a loved and respected professor and mentor to me.
Don Berry 1931-2001
Find out more about him at donberry.com and berryworks.