Friday, August 8, 2014

More from the New Yorker

I know the New Yorker has great articles but I really think first of the cartoons on those occasions I think of the New Yorker at all.  I think somewhere on this blog is a TED talk on the proper level of weird for their cartoons.
On the creative life cycle of a cartoonist:
I think cartoonists harbor the notion that artists, writers, and scientists aren’t all that creative. Not when they’re matched up against cartoonists. Smarter? Yes. As creative? No. If a scientist comes up with one new idea a year, he’s a genius. If a cartoonist comes up with one new idea a day, he or she better start looking for other work. When people in these other fields do get a new idea, they often take a few years to perfect it, and then a few more to ruin it.
Magazine cartoonists don’t have that luxury. The core prerequisite for the occupation is creativity. They get paid for their ideas, and they have to come up with bunches of them every week, because nine out of ten will get turned down by fussy editors like me.
Remember, this article is freely available for the summer...whenever they decide that ends, so read the rest soon.
The author of that piece also wrote a book and was interviewed by his magazine.  Here is more on cartoons and creativity from that interview:
Ideas come from the unconscious, the part of our mind that dreams. You have to be able to dream while you're awake. There's always that moment where those deep, hidden brain processes push the magma up to the surface of consciousness and out erupts the thing that the conscious mind recognizes as an idea. The conscious mind then acts like a secretary, sorting, filing, and tweaking those ideas.
How can you tell a good idea from a bad idea?
With your own material, that's very difficult. The process of creating often obscures and contaminates the ability to evaluate. By the same token, though, the process of evaluating often contaminates the ability to create. The best way is to generate ideas and then wait. With distance and time, you are able to gradually see what's there that shouldn't be.
So how important is discipline and editing?

Well, we're talking about two separate processes. When it comes to generating ideas, editing isn't important at all. You want to have as many ideas as you can, knowing that most of them will be worthless. In the material universe, you can't actually make more matter, so you have to be prudent about how you use the matter that you have. But there's no need to conserve ideas. In the idea universe, every idea leads to more ideas.
In the creativity class I recently took, lessons included a virtual tour of various offices famed for their creative output.  The offices looked like playrooms with vibrant colours and nothing was fixed in place.  The New Yorker tears up that concept in The Open Office Trap.
In 2011, the organizational psychologist Matthew Davis reviewed more than a hundred studies about office environments. He found that, though open offices often fostered a symbolic sense of organizational mission, making employees feel like part of a more laid-back, innovative enterprise, they were damaging to the workers’ attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, and satisfaction. Compared with standard offices, employees experienced more uncontrolled interactions, higher levels of stress, and lower levels of concentration and motivation. When David Craig surveyed some thirty-eight thousand workers, he found that interruptions by colleagues were detrimental to productivity, and that the more senior the employee, the worse she fared.

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