Will Gompertz (2015) Think Like an Artist…and Lead a More Creative, Productive Life.

thinking artist

This is a short book, with some lovely illustrations, but you’d expect that, Will Gompertz is BBC’s Art’s Editor. If I was thinking like an economist more than an artist I’d be thinking ten quid for a couple of wee pages and a couple of illustrations isn’t that great a deal. If I was thinking like a boozer that was an economist I’d be thinking that the opportunity cost of reading this book is four pints of heavy out of the Dropp Inn. If I was thinking like a boozer I’d be thinking I’m indestructible and nobody will ever beat me at pool. Ten quid is twenty games of pool, around the time it would take the average reader to finish this book.

Let’s be clear about one thing I’m not sure what an Art’s Editor does, but I expect he’s got a postgraduate qualification in Art and know a thing or two about pictures. I’ll be creative and work my way through his advice.

‘We are all Artists’.  Discuss? ‘We are all Arseholes?’ ‘The act of making and creating is deeply satisfying, life-affirming and rewarding.’

‘Artists are Enterprising.’ Arseholes are too, but they’re just more annoying. ‘Good business is the Best Art’ – Andy Warhol. Sip on a tin of tomato soup and sell the tin. Or collect lemonade bottles when your Giros ran out to feed your family as one well-known entrepreneur, and little-known street artist, with bad hair does.

‘Artists don’t fail.’ Arseholes never fail. ‘Success is often down to Plan B.’ I’ve got a whole alphabet of plans that never fail, some of them would leave you in gaol. ‘A sculptor carves a stone until eventually a form is revealed’ as another stone I’d guess, then go back to carving cheese with glee and sell it to the cheese factory.

‘I proceed by trial and error.’ Arseholes usually travel by train, although if time flies they are not averse to travelling incognito as white-van man.

‘In art one is either a plagiarist or a revolutionary’ Paul Gaugin. Plan B be neither, nor or maybe. ‘As is often the case with matters creative, simplification was the answer.’ I remember this strategy well, look at the answers on the SRA test before tackling the question. I wasn’t cheating, just being creative with the answers. So there you go Mrs Bridges. I expect an apology. And if I find out where you live I’m giving you two of the belt (I’ll let you off, if you’re dead).

‘Big ideas come from the unconscious. But your unconscious has to be well informed, or your idea will be irrelevant,’ David Ogilvy.

I prefer small ideas and cheap cones from Lidl.

‘If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative,’ David Ogilvy. I’ve got a long list of things that sell. I could work my way through the Klingon alphabet and list things that sell, but when it comes to my work it’s easy, it doesn’t sell because it isn’t creative, in fact it’s tautological. Klingon attatck!

‘Passion fires our ideas to come up with ideas.’  Don’t have a wank or you’ll be a wanker, or tosser, bereft.

‘Ideas that are born out of ignorance are invariably weak and most often useless.’ I didn’t know that.

‘Collaboration can lead to unexpected, or otherwise unobtainable, discoveries.’ Please send me your bank details and I’ll be your trusted friend. ‘Make the world to believe in you and to pay heavily for this privilege.’ Gilbert & George. Yes, last three digits. Yes, it’s me honest George phoning from Somalia.

‘Learn to listen.’ Fuck off. If I hear that one more time. Fuck off.

‘The final stage of the creative process is in fact one of the hardest: turning everything learnt, developed, and tested into something concrete.’ Just like laying an egg without the chicken.

‘Artists steal.’ Get your ain egg, I saw this one first.

‘There is nothing new under the sun,’ Ecclesiastes 1:9. What about Curlywurlys?

‘Often the “new” element in really big ideas comes in the form of a disruption.’ That’s why I spend so much time in the lavvy, honest, I’ve not fallen asleep.

‘I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else,’ Pablo Picasso. A Facebook post of your dinner?

‘If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants,’ Isaac Newton. BFG Isaac, BFG.

‘Look at the early work of any artist and you will see an impersonator yet to find his or her voice.’ Can I interest any of you in a picture of a soup tin, an unmade bed, or perhaps a product of my lavvy instead?

‘It’s not where you take things from, it’s where you take them to,’ Jean-Luc Goddard, pleading to waive unpaid parking fines.

‘I choose a block of marble and chop off whatever I don’t need,’ Auguste Rodin. Chip off the old block, chip off the old cock.

‘There is no such thing as a wholly original idea. But there is such a thing as unique combinations.’ Copyrighted.

‘Artists are Sceptics.’ Never!

‘Creativity isn’t about what somebody else thinks; it is about what you think.’ I’ve no opinion on that.

‘The most terrible obstacles are such as nobody can see except oneself,’ George Elliot, for example, being a woman and not a man.

‘A work of art is the unique result of a unique temperament,’ Oscar Wilde, too many uniques makes for a poor boy.

‘So vast is art, so narrow human wit,’ Alexander Pope, listen up Oscar.

‘Questioning does not make creativity more difficult. Rather it brings clarity and brevity and purity to our ideas.’ You can say that again and again and again.

‘Artists Think Big Picture and Fine Detail.’ Think big and small, after that it’s your call.

‘There’s nothing worse than a sharp image or a fuzzy concept,’ Ansel Adams has obviously never tried broccoli.

‘An artwork should point in more than one direction,’ Luc Tuymans. Satnav should not point in more than one direction, but it does, it does and it was always back there. Make a turn after 29 miles.

‘One dab of colour can radically change the appearance of the largest painting,’ but two dabs of emulsion and you’re getting a bit handy. Three dabs and you’re taking the cunt.

‘The big picture of the past can bring in the fine detail of the present.’ The past can affect the present, wish I’d thought of that before I had that last pint.

‘Creativity is more than just being different. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that creativity.’ That’s Spangles. I like the red ones.

‘Every painting has a point of entry. A small detail that draws your eye and draws you in,’ Luc Tuyman, pay by Apple, PayPal, debit or debit cards. Thanks for your custom.

‘When the point of entry to the picture changes, it alters our reading of it.’ I’m not paying twice for the same unmade bed.

‘Artists Have a Point of View.’ I think we can all agree on that Sherlock.

‘One eye sees, the other feels,’ Paul Klee. I actually quite like that. Just as the body blinks at orgasm, the brain blinks when we gain insight, a kind of slowing down and speeding up at the same time.

‘Our point of view is our signature.’ No doggy paw prints on the paper please.

‘In the creativity game you are not a player unless you have something to say.’ Here’s another picture of my dinner, macaroni and cheese, emm yummy!

‘Once we discover what we want to say, everyday life can become a potential source of creative stimulus.’ Sounds a bit like porn, but without the squiggly bits.

‘It’s the artist’s job to pay attention to prompts, to trust their feelings and instincts.’ Trust if you must, but it’s a novel way to spend a day, laying out that box of feelings and beginning to play.

‘We have to be continually jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down,’ Kurt Vonnegut. Please note Kurt doesn’t mean this literally, put the paper wings away.

‘Peter Doig found inspiration in physical spaces, Rembrandt in personal places: Marshall in the politics of race.’ I found space in the bottom sock drawer, but I guess I’m lucky that way.

‘We’re not robots. Life is more exciting when you have an opinion,’ Cheryl Lynn Bruce. Robots don’t eat Wotsits. My life would be more exciting with a packet of Wotsits, but they make your fingers minging, but that might just be me. Discuss.

‘Artists Are Brave.’ Artists are Cowards. Artists are humans like everybody else, but not like robots, because robots cannot be brave but they can give you the correct change 99.9999999999999999999% of the time.

‘To Create One’s World In Any Of The Arts Takes Courage,’ Georgia O’Keefe. It also takes lots of higher-case lettering.

‘Psychological courage is needed to stand up and express your feeling and ideas in public.’ I thought all that was needed was a few drinks and a Karaoke machine.

‘The Most Courageous Act Is Still To Think For Yourself Aloud,’ Coco Chanel. No comment.

‘The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience,’ Emily Dickinson. God knows.

‘Creativity does not exist in isolation. [eg] There would be no Sistine Chapel ceiling if it hadn’t been for the dogged persistence of Pope Julius II.’ There would have been no David Cameron without Mrs Cameron and her dogged persistence with Mr Cameron. They should have stuck to touching fingertips together.  Cor blimey. Wipe clean the slate.

‘Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it,’ Salvador Dali. It’s a bit like a motorway chicane that takes you a little off the main route and you end up back where you started.

‘Creativity gives a voice to democracy and shape to civilisation.’ Please note, conditions apply, minimum income £500 000 per annum.

‘Artists Pause For Thought.’ We’re waiting.

‘When Artists Sit Down In Their Chair They Stop Being The Creator And Turn Into A Critic.’ I don’t mind that, just as long as they’re not Ranger’s supporters.

‘Art is not about itself, but the attention we bring to it,’ Marcel Duchamp. Voila, here are my thoughts!

‘All Schools Should Be Art Schools.’ So we can shut them down quicker and subsidise the good old Tory boys that know how to get things done? No surprise that the revelation that a young Cameron put his penis in a pig’s mouth got the most publicity. No great reveal that he didn’t give a toss about educating the poorer plebs. Yes sir, I can boogie.

‘Art School teaches you how to think NOT what to think.’ Really? I was just thinking that. I’m psychic and can spend spoons. Hire me please, I’ll not play with your cutlery.

‘Why did Damien Hirst blossom at art college and not before?’  I’ve read the answer a few times and I’m still not convinced.

‘Could it be that students learn what great minds achieved, but not always the far more valuable lesson of how they did it?’

I must admit I prefer the penis in the pig’s mouth answer.

‘Maybe rewarding New and Interesting rather than Right or Wrong would help develop more of the skills needed for a creative economy.’ Maybe it wouldn’t. Maybe some of my Wrong answers were New and Interesting. Please send cash.

‘Creativity is contagious, pass it on,’ Albert Einstein. Never argue with Uncle Albert. More tea, vicar?

‘Every child is an artist, the problem is staying an artist when you grow up,’ Pablo Picasso. The problem Pablo is we have the wrong kind of children.  Poor children as we know become poor adults. Poor children cannot afford to dream.

‘A Final Thought.’

‘You can’t wait for inspiration you have to go after it with a club,’ Jack London. Might have known, London gets all the resources and now they’re offering advice.

‘The Main Thing is to be moved, to Love, to Hope, to Tremble, to Live,’ Auguste Rodin. I’m not moving to London and that’s that.

If you’ve read this far I’ve just saved you a tenner. Slip me a fiver and we’ll call it quits?