For Simplicity’s SakeBy developer on October 10, 2015
Now that I’ve made a call to action about the type of material, ideas, and projects Talismanic Idols is hunting for and a three part blog on a summation of a few parameters I enjoy regarding the delivery of content (the way you say what you say, do what you do), let me go keep the balance and make another call to action.
When considering if you have anything to offer to the world… You do. When considering utilizing Talismanic Idols as a springboard and conduit for your art… here’s what I do. Just consider it. Don’t copy it. Don’t make it dogma. Make it better and make it yours.
A lot of people have come to me with ideas for documentaries, shows, tours, etc… that I’m sure have a load of merit but are missing the most crucial element. Simple effectiveness.
When something is simple AND effective, it’s usually the title. For instance “The Power of Now”. Whether you like the book or not, I use it as a reference because it’s simply effective. In those four words (of which only two catch the eye) the entire essence of the book is summed up. You have a brief description on the back which unlocks a bit of complexity from the title in order to give an active dynamic for the reader to ponder and deepen their understanding of the title. Then you open the book and the content unlocks further into a preface, chapters and an epilogue. The content becomes more rich and complex because you’ve taken the plunge and opened up (literally and figuratively).
When we (the audience) have no clue who you (the artist) are and what you’re about, we need something even more simple than the elevator speech. We need a symbol and a few words. This is how the mind will establish the category and subcategories your work will fall into. This is a good thing. People won’t be able to understand your work without categories to give it an anatomy.
The trick is to know every aspect of your work and how you can sum it up in a symbol and a few words. Think of your favorite book or album. The cover probably has the author or band name, title or album name and a picture or symbol.
When you see the gold arches from the freeway, everyone who’s seen that symbol (nearly everyone on industrialized earth) there is an instantaneous reaction. Now you might feel hungry at the sight of that golden “M” or sick to your stomach but either one is attributed to your experience under the proverbial umbrella of that symbol.
Now, if no one knows you and you’re trying to figure out a symbol there are a few tips and tricks. Don’t be too similar to others but don’t be too far out there either. A symbol is a universal thing to consciousness. Shapes, colors, textures and the interplay between them are integral to how the audience will assimilate your artwork. The trick is to draw from what’s out there in order to link the audience’s presuppositions with what you’re going for in your art piece. However, drawing from what’s out there must be distinguished from copying or biting a style of someone else. Hence, originality must be present and you must take the elements of what seems to work for others and make it your own.
Think of it this way: If your documentary is about the science of a spiritual path and cannabis, then you might consider employing sacred geometry (or at least draw from sacred geometrical stylings) and put a pot leaf in the center of it.
This style of image evokes a category that will be used for your message. So if your work has nothing to do with spirituality, geometry or cannabis… this is NOT the style of symbol you should be considering.
The point is to play with ideas, draw up your own, have artists study your work and draft symbols for you. You will find that YOU yourself may have the seed or embryo of an idea that you call your artwork… but it needs to be discovered. Mark Zuckerberg didn’t make Facebook what it is today anymore than Barack Obama makes this country what it is today. There are hundreds, thousands, even millions of ingredients that make up the recipe of a social network or a nation. So bring other interested people that you trust to the thinkin’ table brain storm a hurricane.
The words you choose as a title or name are just as important as naming a child. Words have power. Do you know many people with the last name Hitler? Chances are you don’t. There are a few, I’m told, but imagine if WWII would have ended differently and the history books looked at Ole’ Adolf as a savior. Every Tom, Dick and Harry would have the last name Hitler.
Now that’s a stretch, but the point is simple. If you take the title of your work too lightly, it could come across vague or boring. Of course there are exceptions (especially when it comes to domain names). But back to The Power of Now… or better yet, Be Here Now.
Those three words encapsulate such gravity and importance to the central theme that you could simply meditate on the title alone and arrive at the point of the whole text. Be… Not “Do”… it’s closer to “Allow”, but that’s not an equivalent word. Only the word “Be” works in the position just before “Here”. What does “here” mean? Well, it doesn’t mean “There” or “Elsewhere” or anything but… “Here”. NOW. When? NOW. But I’m busy… Exactly. That’s why the book was written.
To find the words that encapsulate your entire message takes work. Trial and error. Playing around with ideas. Sometimes an epiphany… but don’t count on it. Just spend time trying to discover your message. It has a name. Don’t force one, search for it.
Also, don’t try to be cool with the title. Be thought provoking. Don’t be specific just for the sake of explaining the message. Be poetically direct.
My first film “Esoteric Agenda” sounds haunting to most people who’ve commented on the title. It sounds bad. It sound like “Ulterior Motive”… but therein lies the beauty. Mister Miyagi taught Daniel how to deflect punches in karate tournaments by painting fences and waxing. Famous “Wax on, wax off” scene. Daniel hated the stupid chore he was given because he wanted to learn to fight until it dawns on him that he was learning to fight all along by waxing. Now Daniel wax on and wax off all day long, probably somewhere in a seedy neighborhood of Hollywood Hills. But the point is… that was Mr. Miyagi’s Ulterior Motive. His Esoteric Agenda. The title of my documentary seemed ominous but there are layers in it that are discovered once mulled over and thought about.
The hard work that you will put into your title, your symbol all serve the complex work that the audience will unlock once they open the book or click play on the documentary. The “Simple effectiveness” of your title and symbol act as one thing. A memorable category that evokes the curiosity of each potential audience member to say “Okay, I’ll let you keep talking.”
Think of the concentric circles of proximal defense we keep around us. We have our immediate family. The spouse and kids and parents that we tell just about everything. Our secrets and fears and aspirations. Then we have our friends. We tell them a lot but a bit less. Then our acquaintances who know a bit less. And so on and so forth it goes all the way through our enemies to the folks we’ll never meet.
Your title and symbol serve as a first impression. That first time you meet someone. Do you hit it off or hit a nerve? Make a strong impression or become forgotten instantly after leaving? Don’t try to impress everyone. In fact, don’t try to do anything beyond what your ultimate aim is. If some people don’t give a shit about sacred geometry and pot, then don’t worry about them. Don’t change your symbol and title out of fear of alienating those potential customers.
Be fearless, but not dramatic. Often times we oversell the potential benefit we offer in our books or doco’s. Like claiming that “Eating meat is the cause of all war.” That’s the quickest way to turn someone off to your whole project even if you pose very valid points. The audience is sensitive and dynamic. So in order to be simple and effective, don’t understate or overstate your ideas. Be balanced. Be humble. Be bold but let the truth drive that boldness, not you. The moment an author makes promises or claims that rest upon my “believing the author” rather than the logic and resonance in his or her work, is the moment I roll a spiritual joint with the pages and use the rest as toilet paper.
Side note: I make these very same errors in my earlier works. From experience, and constructive (ass ripping) criticism, I’ve learned a few valuable lessons. And no I don’t smoke pot, nor would I use book pages as rolling paper. Please don’t do that. But if you do, make a youtube video and send it to me. Please!
Now here are a few words on how to end your project. When you have nothing left to say, when you’ve said it all, when all is out on the table and no turn has been left unstoned, just______!
Categories: Collaborative Opportunities, The Student, Uncategorized.