But back to Q. (Check out QTV on YouTube for some recent clips of the show.) Today Jian interviewed Lynda Barry, a comic artist who I first became aware of in the early ‘80s thanks to The Georgia Straight. Barry has just written a sort of creative memoir: “Her new book, What It Is (Drawn and Quarterly), thoughtfully guides and invigorates adults who make stuff.”
Her ideas on creativity are fascinating and based on some surprising research. Apparently the brain functions children use in ‘deep play’ are identical to those adults use when involved in creative pursuits. Both require intense focus and create a level of anxiety. The brain functions we use for entertainment, like watching TV, are quite different, so even though we may be entertained by play, calling it an entertainment activity is misleading. Not only that, she states that this particular kind of creative engagement is necessary for mental health in both kids and adults. I can attest to that one and I have heard so many bloggers say that when they really get going on a good post, blogging becomes so much more to them than an outlet for blowing off steam, communicating or entertaining themselves. Is that also why I have so much more fun when drawing or painting my more abstract/symbolic work? There’s no question that this is way more like play for me (what she calls the unthinkable – or the work created when allowed to be spontaneous) than when I’m doing, say, a landscape or pet portrait and the devil of conventional acceptance is sitting on my shoulder, calling the shots. She explains that this self-consciousness and critical judgement is the biggest killer of creativity.
The painter, writer and nationally syndicated cartoonist, who created the pitch-perfect strip Ernie Pook’s Comeek, believes there are two questions we ask ourselves that take the joy and ease out of art making: Is this good? and Does this suck?
For more of Barry’s philosophy go here. As for me, I have to reread this post now and ask myself, "Is this good or does it suck?" before deciding whether or not to hit ‘publish’.