Today author Jack Martin discusses the inspiration for and development process behind his new book Drawn to Change: Calling for a Creative Counter-Culture.
Back in 2015, as I was about to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Media, I had a brief moment of reflection of what I had learnt in my course. Though I felt like I had learnt a great deal about the creative industry and all the tools of the trade, I felt rather uninspired creatively – not to mention confused! I felt there to be an overlooked contradiction in the entire learning process, for it was the study of creativity set in the structure of the problem-solving formula: the creative expression of the free, intuitive side of the brain was being tested and judged by the strict, analytical side of the brain.
I decided to jot this down in my diary while the thought was in my head. Yet as I started writing, it occurred to me that I could get more out of it than just a diary entry. I continued to write and the end result is the introduction to my newly released book Drawn To Change: Calling For A Creative Counter-Culture.
However, Drawn To Change was not meant to be as broad and in-depth an analysis of the world as the finished product. I originally set out to create a small 10-or-so-page illustrated pamphlet of sorts with a brief analysis of the creative industry that I would print and give away to potential employers to show the diversity of my work. Yet I couldn’t stop writing. The more I wrote the deeper I felt I had to delve not only into the modern creative industry but into the entire fabric of modern society as well, for, as I argue in the book, this notion of “creativity” is a reflection of our environment. Thus, Drawn To Change not only challenges creativity, it challenges everything around us. For 3 weeks I was glued to my laptop, almost as if the book was writing itself (a phenomenon some artists refer to as channelling The Muse). And, with reading being one of my favourite pastimes, it was almost as if every book I had been reading at that time was able to fit perfectly into the argument of my own book.
But this was only the beginning of the project. The time spent writing my argument paled in comparison to the time spent illustrating it. The book demanded 78 different illustrated spreads from me, and this took me the next 18 months, trying to squeeze time into it whenever I could around the demands of adult life.
I have been able to draw since I was a kid (both to my astonishment and to my confusion), so some of these illustrations were easier than others. The challenging part, however, was to correlate the illustration with the key point of the argument on that particular page. To make it more difficult was that some of these arguments were more text-heavy than others, which in turn, limited the detail of the artwork, and both text and art had to compromise and work together.
Then the ultimate spanner was thrown in the works. In hindsight, I admit that I probably should have done more research on book printing dimensions before I created my 78 canvases (let that be a lesson to you kids). To fit the required dimensions of IngramSpark’s printers, I needed to shave off one-third of my spreads. Easier said than done! Readjusting the text and the illustration often had a dramatic impact on the spread’s composition, requiring I create a new template to fit everything in smoothly. This tedious task kept me busy for another 2 months.
Perhaps the most profound aspect of Drawn To Change and the most challenging part of the process for me is the ideas I present. In listing the problems that inhibit us to access our unique form of creativity, we have to confront the world around us. In turn, the reader is faced with the challenge of questioning everything they consider ‘normal’ about their life. The reader may not agree with some of my perspectives, perhaps making them feel uncomfortable, but this is exactly the point! My task is to strike at the existential core of my audience in order for them to completely reconsider what it means for them to be a creative individual in this world of constant change.
Do I have the answer to this existential question? No, because, as I argue, the meaning of one’s life is completely subjective. However, I have come up with some solutions to finding the answer. This may seem hypocritical considering that I argue how established creativity is hardly creativity at all, and establishing solutions for the reader to strictly follow would only contradict my argument. The solutions I offer are more like starting points than anything concrete, raising more questions than they answer, for this requires that the reader must use their imagination in order to apply them to their art and their own life. Drawn To Change’s task is more an act of enquiry rather than an act of confirmation, for isn’t this what creativity is all about after all: finding the way on your own?
Of course, I wouldn’t have been able to get this project off the ground without some assistance. I would like to thank Russell Thomson and Peter Gray from Clear Communications who edited the manuscript, thus sharpening my argument and making it more palatable for the audience. I would also like to thank Joel Naoum and his team at Critical Mass who not only set up the printing and distribution for Drawn To Change, but also converted it into an ebook to make it more globally accessible. It’s such an incredibly rewarding experience to be able to broadcast your creation, and I cannot thank them enough for it. For those who are interested in getting a project like this out into the world, please hit these teams up!
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Drawn to Change Synopsis:
Calling For A Creative Counter-Culture
Brace yourself for a wild ride into the depths of Western culture to discover how creativity can reshape the world. But beware: everything you consider normal will be erased from the drawing board.
Drawn To Change is an artist’s take on what it means to be creative in a world that is constantly changing.
We are taken on a wild ride through the depths of Western culture to discover that we are much more restrictive to creativity than we’d like to believe, and tend to resist change rather than acknowledge it.
To understand this resistance, we are forced to confront social norms such as education, competition, language, money, ideology, society, reality and even the meaning of creativity itself. Nothing is safe!
As daunting as this might seem, Drawn To Change presents solutions that encourage us to do the only thing we can do: embrace this ever-changing and ever-creative world that we live in.
(Ebook and Paperback, 156 pages – May 2018)
Disclosure: If you click a link in this post and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission.