Marjane Satrapi on Artistic Freedom, Fame & Finishing No Matter What

Via The 99 Percent blog, this interview with graphic novelist/filmmaker Marjane Satrapi (go see Persepolis, damn youse).

On being called a “rebel”:

I just don’t understand why I should do what people tell me to do. The majority is always wrong. I mean if the majority was right, then we would live in a better world. But the world is not good, which means that the majority is always, always wrong. So you always have your personal way of thinking, and you just cannot let it go. There are things that I believe in and nothing in this world would make me change my mind.

On what defines a creative person:

I think if somebody has to make an artistic work, he will finish it no matter what. It has nothing to do with the money, with the time. I was sure that I was not made for artistic work, and I tried to make another kind of work. I was supporting myself, you know, making all sorts of shit work that everybody else does. And I got completely depressed. I had to take pills, and I was really not well. So it wasn’t that I decided [to be an artist]; I just didn’t have any other way out. It was that or I would be in the mental hospital. It was as easy as that. If you have to do something then you do it. People say, “I want to make this movie but I don’t have real connections.” You don’t need to have real connections. If you really have to do it, then you will finish it, I’m sure of that.

I can tell you that’s exactly how and why I finished my novel. (My third novel, son! Kanye voice: Ayy, ayy, ayy…) But the part about “making another kind of work” also applies. I wonder if I’m trying to build two careers instead of throwing everything into just one. Anyway, I’ll leave with these words from the interview:

Life is too short and we cannot spoil it. I don’t have 300 years in front of me. So I just do the things that I really want to do at the moment because that’s the only way you will do them well. If you don’t believe in yourself, it won’t work. Because creation, you know, it means that you don’t have any salary, you don’t have any retirement, all of that. So if you don’t have the security, at least have the freedom. I go for the freedom.

The hardest battle

To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

E. E. Cummings

The artist’s job

The artist’s job is not to succumb to despair but to find an antidote for the emptiness of existence.

–Gertrude Stein (played by Kathy Bates) in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris.

How Do We Identify Good Ideas?

(via Wired)

The next time you invent something new, don’t immediately file a patent, or hit the “publish” button, or race to share the draft with your editor. Instead, take a few days off: Play a stupid videogame, or go for a long walk, or sleep on it. Unless you take a brief break, you won’t be able to accurately assess what you’ve done.


To Whom it May Inspire, 

I, like many of you artists out there, constantly shift between two states. The first (and far more preferable of the two) is white-hot, “in the zone” seat-of-the-pants, firing on all cylinders creative mode. This is when you lay your pen down and the ideas pour out like wine from a royal chalice! This happens about 3% of the time. 

The other 97% of the time I am in the frustrated, struggling, office-corner-full-of-crumpled-up-paper mode. The important thing is to slog diligently through this quagmire of discouragement and despair. Put on some audio commentary and listen to the stories of professionals who have been making films for decades going through the same slings and arrows of outrageous production problems. 

In a word: PERSIST.

PERSIST on telling your story. PERSIST on reaching your audience. PERSIST on staying true to your vision. Remember what Peter Jackson said, “Pain is temporary. Film is forever.” And he of all people should know. 

So next time you hit writer’s block, or your computer crashes and you lose an entire night’s work because you didn’t hit save (always hit save), just remember: you’re never far from that next burst of divine creativity. Work through that 97% of murky abyssmal mediocrity to get to that 3% which everyone will remember you for!

I guarantee you, the art will be well worth the work! 

Your friend and mine, 

[PIXAR animator] Austin Madison


(via Lifehacker)

The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore

Now I know what I want to do: make interactive children’s books on the iPad. I’ve wanted our company to move in this direction. Maybe they haven’t been pitched the right idea yet. Maybe that’s what I need to do. Granted, the interactivity looks somewhat superficial, but I won’t know for sure until you buy me an iPad.

Tweeting and Writing and Deflating Like a Balloon

via Frank Chimero’s blog:

Writing 140 characters is difficult if one is trying to say something with poignancy. It’s hard to tell the truth in a tiny box, because the truth is so big and round and gray. Most things I write are crude and awkward, overly unrelenting, not capable of holding the necessary nuance for a confession or an insight. One can’t go too deep in a stunted format. But still, it kind of feels like writing because my fingers are flying, there is that sound of the keyboard, that row of letters getting longer, that momentum of the cursor pushing right. But, it’s not the same as lengthier writing, because it doesn’t necessarily take us anywhere.

Lengthier writing is hard, because it requires one to commit to it. One must be alone. One can not write in a group. One must step away, shut off the world. What do I think? How do I feel? What is this itch? How can I scratch it? Why am I so sad? Why did this make me happy? What’s it like being a father? Why did that project work? What did I learn?

If you’re not failing, you’re not trying

You have to make a choice in life. You can avoid the things that make you uncomfortable, follow the pack and lead a very comfortable, normal existence. Or you can refuse to be limited by the things that challenge you and keep facing them until you crush them. I think giving option B a try is worthwhile.

–Dan Shipper, If you’re not failing you’re not trying (via Lifehacker)

Francis Ford Coppola on Risk, Money, Craft & Collaboration

Thought-provoking interview with Coppola at The 99 Percent blog.

Making Ideas Happen

I read Scott Belsky’s Making Ideas Happen over the holidays. It’s not terribly ground-breaking, as the whole book could probably be summed up in the adage that good old-fashioned hard work produces results. Aside from that, these are the things I noted while reading it, which I will try to keep in mind at work and with my own resolutions and creative projects: Read more