When I was a kid I used to spend a lot of time messing around with pen and paper. I didn’t just draw or write. I distinctly recall making little books, or booklets. Like a mad drunk, I did it purely for myself because I wanted to. I wish I can remember what was in those little books, but I can’t. Over the last two months I rediscovered zines, and as a result I decided to become the mad drunk again. Starting with 6 Bullets for Creative Survival.
Not rules as much as quidelines
I’m a rebel, to the point where it is sometimes a flaw. When I saw a documentary about the scary world of graffiti in South Africa, I wanted to get together other kids so we could go tag stuff, in the suburbs. Creating something and breaking rules at the same time sounded awesome to me as a teenager, and is still appealing now. 6 Bullets for Creative Survival is a set of rules I try to stick to. In fact, I forget my own rules so often that they are definitely more like guidelines.
I don’t always want to create, but I still do or I would go insane. It’s a strange conundrum, one that has driven many a man and woman over the edge. 6 Bullets for Creative Survival is six things that I constantly have to remind myself of, that helps lubricate the process of creating.
6 Bullets that apply to more than creativity
My intention with 6 Bullets for Creative Survival was simple: Make a zine that I can refer to every now and then when I’m struggling creatively. What happened unintentionally is that I started thinking of these things during my daily life, while being a dad, a husband, an employee and a friend. It was not just a “crazy artist thing”. Now, I’m hoping you will find something in 6 Bullets for Creative Survival that will help you too.
What is 6 Bullets for Creative Survival?
It’s a it’s a six page zine, that anyone can print on an A4 page and fold into their own copy of the zine. It’s very obviously inspired by Tom Sachs’ Ten Bullets and the zines that Van Neistat has been making. My previous zine was a collaboration with a friend of mine, and that zine was largely produced digitally. After watching Van Neistat’s DIY zine video, I decided I wanted to create a zine for myself in a more manual way.
Drawing, writing by hand, cutting out images and sticking them down with actual glue. I wanted something that was real and something that showed how real, by being rough around the edges. This became the original 6 Bullets for Creative Survival. The one that I used to make 100 copies of, folded by hand and are just handing out. Now I’m handing it out online.
Six pages are not enough to completely give context to every “bullet” in the zine. I’ve decided to give some context here. If you dig it and want your own, you can get it for free by following this link.
#1 You have to suck at it before you will get kind of good at it
This is something that Jake from Adventure Time taught me. Surprised that the stoner learned one of his biggest life lessons from a cartoon? It stuck with me, and these days I apply it to anything I attempt, including art. It’s also something that I am teaching my 6-year-old son to embrace. We try everything, and if we like it we can decide it we are going to keep doing it to get better over time. That also explains why Jake was the doodle on the first page.
#2 Rubbing two sticks together is a useless endeavor until you make fire
I have wondered multiple times about how fire was made by man for the first time. I don’t mean taking fire from an already lit bush fire. I’m talking about the first guy who figured out how to make fire or start a fire.
How long did this friends tell him he was wasting his time, or crazy for rubbing two sticks together? Did people around him laugh at him when he was bashing rocks together to try and make sparks? It might seem pointless to other people, but if you want to do it, you should. Otherwise you will never know what it could become.
Start drawing those pictures, try that new hobby, learn that new skill, start writing, start painting. Do it because you want to, and the why will become obvious. Ignore those that tell you that you are wasting your time.
#3 Note. List. Document.
I do this more than any person I know, and I still feel like I don’t do it enough. Daily lists of things to do. Notes about almost every idea. Be it a sentence, an image, a strategy, a thought, something interesting I came across anywhere, a diagram, it all gets noted. On days when I don’t want to create, “not being inspired” or “not having an idea” are easy excuses. Going back trough my notes is a great way to get the process going.
Document everything that you do. Take photos, write journal entries, make videos. I don’t know when, but somewhere down the line in your life you are going to be happy you did it. If it doesn’t make you happy, it will make someone that loved you happy, and that is actually reason enough to do it. I should document more.
#4 Consume Less. Create More.
I have been cursed with a little voice in the back of my head that won’t allow me to sit and just watch series.
“What the fuck are you doing with your life?” it scowls out of the lowest reaches of my mind.
But I have been alarmed at the amount of time I spend looking at the screen of my phone. I have certainly scrolled endlessly on your social media platform of choice. I have dipped into the bowls of darkness, and I’ve gotten stuck more than once. You should get inspired by other people’s creations, but be careful that it doesn’t keep you from creating your own. And if what you are consuming can’t inspire you, is it really worth your time?
#5 Perfection is the enemy of good
Voltaire said: “The perfect is the enemy of the good.”
6 Bullets for Creative Survival is not perfect.
- I picked up one spelling mistake.
- There is one “s” that was originally an “a”
- The artwork could be better
- The design is rough, some might even say terrible
To name just a few imperfections. None the less, 6 Bullets for Creative Survival is done. I finished what I set out to do. I wanted it to look the way it looks. My next zine will be better. Perfect is not real. Perfect doesn’t teach you anything. Finishing something imperfectly, means you will learn from it that get’s you a step closer to perfect.
Note “closer to perfect”, never perfect. Finish everything, even if it’s not perfect.
This is a poem I wrote. I superimposed the poetry over a photo of an artist’s studio. A chaotic, imperfect studio. I’ve heard so many different interpretations of this poem and I love each interpretation. Would love to hear you interpretation in the comments below, or DM me on Instagram.
Again, if you want your own copy of 6 Bullets for Creative Survival you can get it right here. I hope you like your copy as much as I like mine.