Constantly making things

In which the author expresses his desire to make things every day and yet, his inexplicable inability to do so with any consistency

I originally wrote this post as New Years post, as I was going to try making a blog of things I had made every day. That plan failed almost immediately. I’ve come close to making something every day, posting things to my Instagram Stories, and now, my creations channel on are.na. But I miss some days because I’m feeling off or traveling– bad excuses, I know. Maybe I will try again in 2020.

I realized something about myself recently.

I need to make things. All the time. Constantly.

Hopefully things people want.

My mantra has been “seedlings”; planting, growing, absorbing one’s environment.

I basically spent the last 2 years making one thing. One big, complicated, amazing thing. I made lots of other little things on the side, but it was almost like cheating. It sometimes felt like I was stealing energy away from my big project to work on something small, creative, and different on the weekend.

I have always focused on working on whatever people will pay me for. I am a designer after all. ^ge[That has always been the central difference –in my understanding – between an artist and a designer. Artists make whatever they want and hope someone buys it. Designers work with a client, iterate, and ensure they are enacting a client’s vision. The lines are blurry, but this is my rudimentary understanding.]

Sometimes it feels futile, as it is tempting to be drawn into a hole of past goals and dreams that have not yet been attained.

Every new years I promise myself I will do something every day now, that I am a new person with a new reality. Yet that goal slips away in a few months, or weeks, or days.

It is much harder to remember the things I promised myself I would accomplish and did. Winters where I made lists of jobs to apply to and cover letters to write. Winters where I bought myself my first MIDI controller and decided I would learn to DJ (thanks YouTube). Those things seem like givens now, such essential parts of my identity.

So now I lay my plans for designing a life in the next year where I can be a little happier, be a better person, and create more things in the world.

My biggest and most terrifying goal for the year is to try and create something every day.

I have set so many “every day” goals over the years and never been able to keep a single one. There is literally nothing in my life besides inescapable human realities (sleep, sustenance, expulsion) that I do every day.

Towards the goal of creating something every day, I have been trying to lay the ground work to make it easy to create and publish things, because I like preparation, as I’ve written about before.

The image I have in my mind is of a skilled artisan in their workshop, surrounded by customized tools, sharpening and honing them.

“This is why websites are so important. They allow the author to create not only works (the “objects”) but also the world (the rooms, the arrangement of rooms, the architecture!). Ideally, the two would inform each other in a virtuous, self-perfecting loop. This can be incredibly nurturing to an artist’s practice.” [1]

In my world that means I…

  • Cleaned and organized my Dropbox
  • Centralized my Lightroom catalogs
  • Improved the audio-sharing abilities of my site
  • Set up my own S3 bucket to host / publish media
  • Got a new podcast host & publisher
  • Updated my generative art twitter bot toolkit
  • Fixed the web gallery for my twitter art bot
  • Organized my pinboard bookmarks so I can organize research / inspiration better
  • Set up a page on my site to pull in and re-publish my latest 50 pinboard links
  • Cleaned a ton of old / semi-embarrassing videos off my Vimeo account
  • Set up an are.na account so I can organize my visual research / mood boards
  • Set up a page on my site to pull in and re-publish my main are.na board
  • Set everything up to easily broadcast live coding sessions on Twitch

"As you research, create lists, collect post-it notes, write down and review the questions you’ve had, record conversations with experts (let them know you’re recording), take screenshots, conduct polls, and even ask your friends questions.”[2]

  1. My website is a shifting house next to a river of knowledge. What could yours be?Laurel Schwulst ↩︎

  2. How to make research-driven art – Caroline Sinders ↩︎