It’s strange the difference a day can make. Don’t worry, I’m not going to start quoting the Dinah Washington song. Sometimes you have to put yourself out there and yesterday was one of those days. A while ago I was asked to run an illustration workshop in Hastings, it didn’t dawn on me until much later that it was scheduled for the first day of the coastal currents festival during which I was running an event. Whoops! The workshop was to be part of Page Break, a series of events centred around the buildings once used by the local newspaper. Keeping with that theme I developed a headline generator, a seemingly simple tool comprising of three buckets full of words. One bucket of characters, one of places and one of activities and between the three, a whole world of randomness opens up.
Now I won’t lie, random is scary. But it is also very exciting. If you go through your life, minimising the risk of getting hurt or feeling foolish you will miss out on so very much and I personally missed out a decade of my life. When someone plays it safe, they end up doing the same thing over and over again only with subtle variations, things become the norm and then the norm becomes boring. This the town in which I live is good for that, you could quite easily while away your life on one blah thing after another if you get sucked in as many do. With that thought in mind, anyone who sat down at my table suddenly had to think in a whole new way.
One of my pet hates, going back many years, is bad teaching and the presumption that there is a right way to do anything. Indeed, one of the major premises in creating the Dweeblings was in sticking two fingers (well three and a thumb) up at everything that was foisted upon me by frustrated, jaded and controlling teachers. It’s strange though, many years later, I realised that what I had unintentionally did was to create and entirely different set of rules that limited me in different ways but it’s ok, I’ve broken those too. I can understand why teachers end up that way, between the ignorant edicts of countless clueless education ministers and classroom sizes turning teaching into crowd control it must make the best of us turn to cynicism.
I was very concious yesterday to keep my own drawing to a minimum as want I did not want was any form of hierarchy or competition. The bulk of what I was doing soon became a combination of deprograming and social re-engineering. Making sure the kid sister focuses on her own wonderful imagination rather than her brothers drawing skills, encouraging the painfully shy to be a bit mouthy and catching those hideous phrases “I can’t draw” and “it’s not good enough” and stomping on them the moment they left people’s mouths. With the random nature of the subject matter this was kept to a bare minimum as people with so busy trying to work out what it would be like to be a mermaid going shopping on a space station that they ceased to worry about too long an arm or how wonky a nose was.
Today I feel exhausted and I ache all over but it was all worth it. I think I did good.