Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Learning From Failure

In Peter Sims' book, Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries, we see the value of making lots of small failures as a way to get to large successes. While Peter's book is mainly aimed at entrepreneurs, it's also of real value to us regular creative types. These days, cutting-edge gurus are passing the word around: "Fail often in order to succeed sooner."
But not everyone is pickin' up what these experts are puttin' down. Working from a dated model, many art schools currently expect foundation students to produce two or three major works per semester. The results are often big, poorly-conceived mishmashes of questionable value--either as vehicles for learning or as fine art. On the other hand, when students are encouraged to do volumes of small items they become accepting-- even proud--of their failures and are more readily able to move on to ideas that work better for them. Simply put and perhaps surprisingly, less commitment widens opportunity. In a hundred small bets, a dozen or so often ring the bells. With this shotgun effect, even beginners are seen to produce gems. As the lady said, "It's better to have a small diamond than a large piece of glass."
Here are a few ideas for artists who might wish to quicken their progress:
*Prepare a hundred or more similar-sized small supports.
*Choose a subject, motif or series you feel has legs.
*Start bashing off everything that comes into your head, no matter how glib. Stretch your mind.
*Abandon bad ideas in a timely way. Don't waste too much time or get hung-up on outright duds.
*Go from one to the other like a bee goes to flowers. Cross pollinate. Ideas breed ideas. Quality breeds quality.
*Keep your strokes fresh, creative and confident--then both you and your work will become fresh, creative and confident.
*Be always in a state of rejection and acceptance. Steadily sort your work like a deck of cards. To win--to get to the stuff that's really worth enlarging--to evolve--you gotta love the little-bets game.
Best regards,
PS: "Life is an experiment where failure teaches as much as success." (Peter Sims)

From - Robert Genn Twice-Weekly Letter
Posted by Brandt Eisner

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