Category Archives: Getting Started!

What Do Artists Know?

So what do artists know? Here’s the latest visual project What Do Artist Know by Frances Whitehead for CPI’s Site Projects, New Haven Edition of LEF(t) “On Practicing Culture”

CPI facilitates peer discourse and engagement among cultural producers to foster artistic, theoretical, and critical practices. Learn more by visiting their website.
CPI facilitates peer discourse and engagement among cultural producers to foster artistic, theoretical, and critical practices.

CPI facilitates peer discourse and engagement among cultural producers to foster artistic, theoretical, and critical practices.

Bruce Mau’s ‘Incomplete Manifesto for Growth’


Bruce Mau is the Creative Director of , based in Toronto, Canada. In 2003, he founded the Institute Without Boundaries, a twelve-month interdisciplinary postgraduate program that aims to produce a new breed of designer, one who is, “a synthesis of artist, inventor, mechanic, objective economist, and evolutionary strategist. “ Mau is an exemplar of creativity, and in his “Incomplete Manifesto for Growth” articulates his beliefs, motivations and strategies. To read the full list go to his site:

1. Allow events to change you. You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.
2. Forget about good. Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you’ll never have real growth.
3. Process is more important than outcome. When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.
4. Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child). Joy is the engine of growth. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.
5. Go deep. The deeper you go, the more likely you will discover something of value.
6. Capture accidents. The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question. Collect wrong answers as part of the process.
7. Drift.  Explore adjacencies. Lack judgment. Postpone criticism.
8. Begin anywhere. John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere.
9. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone lead.
10. Keep moving. The market and its operations have a tendency to reinforce success. Resist it. Allow failure and migration to be part of your practice.
11. Slow down. Desynchronize from standard time frames and surprising opportunities may present themselves.
12. Don’t be cool. Cool is conservative fear dressed in black.
13. Ask stupid questions. Growth is fueled by desire and innocence. Assess the answer, not the question. Imagine learning throughout your life at the rate of an infant.
14. Collaborate. The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.
15. ____________________. Intentionally left blank. Allow space for the ideas you haven’t had yet, and for the ideas of others.
16. Work the metaphor. Every object has the capacity to stand for something other than what is apparent. Work on what it stands for.
17. Be careful to take risks. Today is the child of yesterday and the parent of tomorrow. The work you produce today will create your future.
18. Repeat yourself. If you like it, do it again. If you don’t like it, do it again.
19. Stand on someone’s shoulders. You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And the view is so much better.
20. Don’t clean your desk. You might find something tomorrow that you can’t see tonight.
21. Think with your mind. Forget technology. Creativity is not device-dependent.
22. Organization = Liberty. Real innovation in design, or any other field, happens in context. That context is usually some form of cooperatively managed enterprise. Frank Gehry, for instance, is only able to realize Bilbao because his studio can deliver it on budget. The myth of a split between “creatives” and “suits” is … a ‘charming artifact of the past.’
23. Don’t borrow money. By maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control. It’s not rocket science, but it’s surprising how hard it is to maintain this discipline, and how many have failed.
24. Listen carefully. Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings with him or her a world more strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their needs, desires, or ambitions, we fold their world onto our own.
25. Take field trips. The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set.
26. Make mistakes faster. Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.
27. Explore the other edge. Great liberty exists when we avoid trying to run with the technological pack. We can’t find the leading edge because it’s trampled underfoot.
28. Avoid fields. Jump fences. Disciplinary boundaries and regulatory regimes are attempts to control the wilding of creative life. Our job is to jump the fences and cross the fields.
30. Remember. Without memory, innovation is merely novelty. History gives growth a direction.
31. Laugh. People visiting the studio often comment on how much we laugh. Since I’ve become aware of this, I use it as a barometer of how comfortably we are expressing ourselves.

thanks to Mary Stewart who sent this my way!

Visual + Material Archive

A visual + material archive is a resource that can inspire you, provide materials for working and be a starting point when you are faced with a new project. In a way, you are making yourself a security blanket. This summer you will need to assemble a box of materials for your use this fall. Keep in mind that an archive is for your benefit and should contain elements that are interesting or inspiring to YOU. It may contain photocopies of images, drawings, photos, favorite text or poems, small natural or man-made objects, found-objects, old paper or written materials, or other unusual materials. Part of your archive might also be digital and contain files that you saved while browsing online.

To get started you might look around your house, what is interesting? What is available that you may not have at school? Remember Alfred is a rural town that can be challenging for artists looking for specific supplies. You might also visit a library, browse the stacks and look for images that capture your imagination. You can photocopy these images for use later, take notes on your discoveries, or even make reference drawings.

You will need some sort of box or file to keep your archive organized and portable. You might use an old record case, tax file, a wooden or metal box, or even a small suitcase. We recommend that you keep it compact since you will be storing these in your dorm rooms!

Spend some time this summer gathering and thinking about what you find truly interesting and you will build a great foundation for a creative fall!

Following are some things to jump-start your collecting: (List is for inspiration only. You do not have to collect all of these items, just things that you find interesting. Feel free to gather things not found on the list. Remember it is for you to decide what is important, there is no RIGHT answer to what or how much your archive should include!)

Any old paper goods: letters, labels, wallpaper, stamps, photos, books, bookmarks found in library books, newspaper clippings, pop-ups, cut-outs, silhouettes, etc.

Images of all kinds: nature, art, landscape, photos, patterns, tracings, drawings (own or others), printed materials (Japanese candy package).
Do not include: current magazine clippings and personal photos.

Collections of images (one example: Natural and Man-made Homes: from bird nests + beehives, to mobile homes + castles)

Small natural materials: odd stone, wooden sticks, salt, dirt, butterflies, animal bones, etc.

Small objects+materials: broken wooden parts, plastic rings, toy pieces, unusual nails, fasteners, tape, string, etc.

Fabric and textiles: unusual fabric swatches, leather pieces, handmade lace, knit object, felt, old costume /clothing.

Research from subjects that interest you: Artists, technology, folk dancing,
space travel, games, poems, etc.

Digital images and sounds: images from eBay or other image resources, sounds recorded or collected, old cassettes, records.