Joseph Conrad on art, writing and reaching your audience

All art, therefore, appeals primarily to the senses, and the artistic aim when expressing itself in written words must also make its appeal through the senses, if its highest desire is to reach the secret spring of responsive emotions. It must strenuously aspire to the plasticity of sculpture, to the colour of painting, and to the magic suggestiveness of music—which…

Seeds (3): becoming Beatrix Potter

1866 Helen Beatrix Potter born in London. 1876 Beatrix Potter has already been doing a lot of drawing and painting. This watercolour is from 1876, a couple of months before her tenth birthday: 1883 Aged 17, she writes “I can’t settle to anything but my painting. I lost my patience over everything else.” 1890 Beatrix Potter sells her first pieces…

Vision. Positioning. Execution. (2)

Four types of vision: Vision of what is: the good, the bad… and the missing. Vision of possibilities: seeing what could be, or what could stop being. Having a sense of contributing factors and probabilities. Moral or ethical vision: knowing which possibilities should be, and which you will take responsibility for changing. Judgement: choosing a good way forward in light…

Compound interest

We all know about compound interest in the world of money. Save £100 a month for thirty years at one percent interest** and you’ll have a little under £42,000 by the end of that time (compared to £36,000 at zero-percent). Make that investment at 5% and suddenly you’ll hit £83,000. 10%*** makes almost £228,000. It takes time, and the commitment…

The Gift

Everything changes if you can see the thing you’re doing as a gift. Doing it as a gift transforms the thing you don’t want to do, or don’t want to do right now; the thing you don’t want to do in the way you know you should do it; the thing you said yes to that seemed like a good…

On making stuff: that Steve Jobs quote

When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader…

In their hands

Make something people can use. Put it in their hands. See what happens. If they’re eager to pay – attention, time, money – you’re onto something. Watch them. Listen to them. Tweak it. Make more of it. See what they think. If they tell their friends – and if their friends tell their friends – then you’ve got it. What…

Stan Lee (1922-2018) – What If?

Stan Lee was brilliant and prolific. We know him for Spiderman, the X-men, the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, Black Panther… for being the driving force behind Marvel Comics, now a multi-billion dollar, multi-media juggernaut. It’s less well known that he started in the comics industry in 1939, aged seventeen, as a general dogsbody, lunch-fetcher and inkwell filler at Timely Comics…

What it takes: a body of work

What does it take to develop as a writer, artist, filmmaker, activist, programmer, blogger, teacher, chef, athlete, landscape gardener, leader and manager, academic? Whatever else you do, you’re going to need a body of work. My two favourite children (those would be mine – simultaneously the best and most annoying children I know) love to draw. And they’re getting better…