[♫ Music ♫] Hi, there. Welcome to Boy Meets Quilt. I’m your host, Andrew Ve Hansen.
And I’m here with my friend David. Hi. And we’re going to talk about creativity, creative process, and whatever else comes up. [Laughter] We’ll see. So to start, David, how do you view yourself as a creative person? That’s interesting. So I do think of myself as a creative person.
Is that vain to answer that way? No. I’m assuming, like, every guest that I
bring on here is going to think of themselves as a creative person.
Okay. So I’m glad that that’s the case. [Laughter] But — so I’m not necessarily what I would consider, like, a professional creative. Like, I’m not a paid-by-the-hour writer or artist or anything. But I’ve dabbled in a lot of those things. So I sort of generally think of myself as a low-level creative that dabbles in a lot of different fields. Okay. So I’ve done some things in, like, visual
stuff. Like, I have a degree in painting, and I used to work in graphic design.
I’ve also done stuff with writing where I was a professional copy writer and I worked
as an editorial assistant. And I have a lot of hobbies that involve creativity.
So, yeah, I like — I like creativity. I like to keep myself practicing creativity. And you actually — and you went to school — your degree is — In painting, yes. In painting, okay.
So you went to an art and design — I did not paint these. [Laughter] But so you actually have training — Yes. — as an artist? I do. So can you talk about that a little bit? That’s interesting because I — one of the
things that I don’t think they did a great job of teaching us in school was necessarily
how to be creative or to think creatively. It was — we focused on technical skills,
which I think are important. Like, you know, with you with quilting, you
actually have to know how to work the machine and do all those kinds of things.
Right. But in terms of how you come up with ideas
and stuff, we were just sort of expected to do that and then get critiqued and sort of
grow in whatever way we would grow out of a critique. But there was never a class or anything that sat down and said “this is a creative process.”
But actually saying that now, I — So I graduated with a degree in painting a
while ago, and then a couple of years ago, as, you know, a professional adult no longer
in school, I decided to go back and take a painting class.
And one of my favorite parts of one of the painting classes that I took was this idea
of guided creativity, which was a really interesting exercise. Can you expand on that? Sure. So in the first class that I took, we
— it was focused on, like, trying to do very realistic, sort of Renaissance-style oil painting
— that I painted, it’s like of a man in a high collar. And that was the first class.
And so we were focusing a lot on the skills, the techniques, how to wash your brush, how
to apply the paint, all that stuff. And then in the second one —
I — I really loved the instructor, which is why I took the second class,
which was about abstract painting, which I wouldn’t normally be interested in as taking
a course as, like, an adult in abstract painting. Like, why? I want to learn how to paint, like,
realistically in a class, not abstractly. But I liked this instructor so much. And it
was really interesting. What he did was we took one painting. There
was maybe, you know, eight to ten people in the class.
And then he would talk to us about a guided abstraction of an image.
So he would say, “I want everyone to draw circles around parts of the painting that
they think are interesting.” “Then I want you to draw line segments between
those points.” “And then I want you to cut out those parts
and flip them, mirror them, like, do these weird manipulations to them.”
Turn them around and so on, like, step after step after step
until at the end everybody had this sort of abstract piece of art that was ultimately
painted that was actually, everybody in the class
was drawing upon the same initial image and was using the same broad technique of abstraction.
And that actually — wow, I’m having a revelation now. [Laughter] That actually really stuck with me because then when I started doing a couple of little paintings on my own after taking these classes, I really did take to heart this idea that
abstraction can be a process. And it isn’t just, like, “Oh, yeah, you know,
the Impressionists had poor eyesight,” or whatever and that’s why everything looks like that. It’s that you’re actually looking — Or Jackson Pollock just flicked his paintbrush a few times. Yeah, you actually just think about it, and you’re, like, how would I take this and
flip it around on its head? But I think beyond that, what it really taught
me was that you could have great creative results that come from a process, period.
Because I think there’s a lot of — Yeah!
There’s — there’s this, like, mystique that art has or that creativity and artists have
where, you know, I think pop culture depicts creative people as either
doing everything effortlessly. It’s, like, “Oh, you just sit down at a piano,”
and you go da-da-da, and you write a whole song.
Or it’s this thing where you have, like, a million balled up pieces of paper.
And it’s just frustration and going nowhere and then the lightning bolt strikes.
Yes, some epiphany. And all of a sudden it’s, like, this.
Because it’s not very — it wouldn’t be a terribly interesting film. Actually, I think it would be a super interesting film! But if you had somebody who was just sort of incrementally getting better and better
which is the way I think actually a lot of creative people in real life work. Absolutely. No, I agree. I mean, I’ve had the privilege of sitting
in on a lot of art history classes. And you just — you do learn, like, Picasso,
like, if you were to go into Picasso’s studio, you know, he’s doing studies of the same figure
over and over and over again before he creates, like, the masterpiece that
you see hung in a museum. So I agree, like, process is very important
for most creative types. And, yeah, those eureka moments do happen,
but I know for my own practice, like, it’s rare. Like, that’s maybe a once-in-a-while thing where I have an idea,
and I know exactly how to do it and how it’s going to turn out.
And then I do that, and it turns out exactly how I had it in my mind,
and I’m happy with it. That is, like —
And certainly — — rare that that happens. And it’s certainly not, like, those are exclusively your best work.
No, no, no! Not at all. Like, you’re able to produce great work that
comes from practice. Right.
And so I would imagine — I know for myself, most of my friends who are very creative people — most of us are not professionally making money,
making a career out of what we find fun and creative. So — and yet there’s still this drive to create. There’s still this desire. It’s fun. Right. So what do you do now to fulfill that desire? So, yeah, there are a bunch of little things. I think probably right now, honestly, the
biggest thing in my life is I play Dungeons & Dragons, which you’re aware of. I’m a dungeon master. And for people who don’t
know what that is, that means that I’m sort of creating the world in which the players
are using their characters or are playing it.
So it’s up to me to come up with all of the people in the world who aren’t the players,
to come up with the setting, to come up with the broad strokes of the narrative
or sometimes the very specific plot elements that happen throughout this story,
while the players sort of improvise around what happens.
So that’s what being a dungeon master is. And it’s — it’s actually really creative
because it’s, like, it’s like writing a screenplay or a novel while working with improvising actors. And you’re sort of, like, I’m going to create
a situation and maybe they’ll want to go to
the left or maybe they’ll decide that they’re going to go to the right. Or maybe they’re going to decide they’re going to start digging — Fly up into the sky. [Laughter] Yeah, or any number of of things.
Because you literally can say, like, okay, they’re going to meet this man, and he’s going
to talk to them like this. And they just might decide that they don’t
want to even talk to him. They want to go talk to that other person.
And so you have to make it up on the spot. But there’s a lot of preparation that goes
into that, of coming up with descriptions of things and settings and what do these characters look like?
What, do they have backstories? All that kind of stuff.
And it’s — it takes a lot sometimes. And sometimes you just make it up off the top of your head. But that’s creativity as well. Absolute — no, super creative, I would agree. Now, on a somewhat related note, there’s — there
are miniatures that are involved — Yes.
— in most people’s Dungeons & Dragons games. Yes, by miniatures we mean these little, tiny
models that we use. Yes! And those are the characters that you
either play or that are the non-player characters, the NPCs.
And you paint your miniatures. I do.
And you paint them exquisitely. It’s hard to see in this setup,
but, like, if we were to do a close-up, like, the amount of detail that you put into these
characters is pretty impressive. It’s decent. It’s not the — you know, I could
point to some YouTube channels if you really want to see people that are amazing.
All right. But, no, yeah. And it’s really fun. I really
enjoy it. It is — it is flexing that sort of painting
muscle that I hadn’t had a chance to use in many years. Yeah. And so that’s something — maybe it’s too hard to put into words.
But what is the difference of fulfillment you find from painting versus creating characters
for Dungeons & Dragons? I think it’s just because — and, you know,
this is probably maybe you have similar thoughts about quilting,
where it’s just something that’s very tangible, very concrete.
You can finish it and say, “Look, this is the thing, and it’s done.”
And people can look at it and touch it and do all those things.
Whereas if you’re, like, “Oh, I have this amazing story for an idea for my players,”
and then it doesn’t quite — I mean, you know, it’s never firmly in hand
when you’re doing the Dungeons & Dragons kind of stuff.
But for this it’s also just sometimes it’s really nice to just physically do a task like
that. When you’re doing something that I think that’s
more akin to, like, writing, your brain is, you know, firing on all cylinders
the whole time. You’re like, “What am I going to think of
this? When I am going to do this?” But for this, you know, there are moments
where you can just sort of, like, you know, zone out and just really focus on your strokes.
And I’m sure, like with quilting, there’s a lot of that kind of stuff. Yeah, I mean — There’s a maybe almost like a Zen meditative
kind of quality to it. So, right.
There totally is. I have to say you keep — you keep referring
to yourself as, like, “low-level creative.” [Laughter]
I don’t think of you as low level at all. Maybe you’re referring to, like, you just
do a lot of different things. It’s all sort of in — within arm’s reach. But you do them all meticulously and beautifully. Like, your — That’s very kind of you to say. — level of execution is super high.
So just — Thank you.
— bear that in mind. I mean I try.
There’s no — I gotta say, I try. I don’t — I don’t — it doesn’t —
None of these things I would say come naturally to me. They’re all things that I have to try to do well, but I do try to do them very well. Speaking of trying, do you ever have trouble pushing through the frustration, like, if you — if you butt — if you’re butting up against an obstacle? Yeah, that’s — that’s — that’s an interesting one. It depends on —
So there’s certain times where I’ve butted up against an obstacle,
and that’s the last I’ve seen that obstacle. Bye, obstacle!
For example, an area which I don’t have a lot of creativity is, like, music, either
technically or just in — And, you know, I tried to learn how to play
guitar. My parents bought me a little Casio keyboard
at some point. And, you know, I just got, you know, after
two days of frustrating practice, it’s, like, I’m not getting good at this quickly
enough, So I’m going to go back to the things that
I know I can get good at quickly. And that’s where — but — but when I get
into those things, you know, some of the creative pursuits that
I have now, I do try to challenge myself. I do try to
push myself. Like, I do a lot of cooking, which is something
that I enjoy and I — Again, very high level of execution. [Laughter]
I have — I’ve been the recipient. Well, and — and, like, you know, so, like,
I actually make it a point to — or I have made it for a while now for, like,
once a week I’m going to try to attempt something that’s maybe
something I’ve never done before or something that’s more ambitious.
So for recently you had my first attempt at macarons, which I had never made before. They were so good. They turned out — they turned out well. They didn’t turn out perfect. Oh, my god, they were so good! [Laughter] Ultimately, they’re too — they’re too much effort for me to get perfect-perfect.
Right, right. But — but, yeah, and it’s, like, oh, and
then last week I did a sous-vide duck breast. And you — so I’m always trying new techniques,
trying all these things. And it’s not staying within my comfort zone
of what I know I’m good at. It’s deliberately trying to choose things
that are more complicated and require more steps and require more precision than I’m
used to. What do you think drives you to do that? Because I want to — I want — I want to hold that level of the skill. Like, I want to become better, and I want to be able — Because I — because that way if I have an idea, I don’t want it to be that I’m limited by the mechanical skills that I have or the muscle memory that I have or just my own experience. So whether it comes to, you know, painting
tiny, little army figurines or whatever or baking something or whatever, it’s, like,
I want to be able to say, “Okay, yes, I have tried that and I have done
that.” So now that I have this idea, I’m not afraid
to approach it because I’ve practiced. Yeah. Good. I think that’s a really good lesson
we can all take home with us. But there is something to be said about, like,
recognizing when you’re not just ever going to be good at something
and just kind of accepting that, letting it go, and then moving on to the things
that you are good at and that you want to
get better at. I’m not going to be an Olympic gymnast. It’s just not going to happen for me. Neither am I. Even though I’ve never thought about it until
just now — [Laughter] now is not the time for me to —
I have thought about it actually. — start. [Laughter] I’ve always been, like, “Oh, if I were to be an athlete, I should have been a gymnast.” You could do a pommel horse. I could see that. Yeah. We’re both of similar size. Like, we’re
that gymnast — Yeah, the sort of short — yeah, yeah. But, no, it never happened. And of course it will never happen now. But now — now, we can focus on refining those things that we know that we would want — number one, that we would want to pursue and that we can pursue well.
And, you know, focus on creating those successes rather than trying to — trying to become
a gymnast now. [Laughter] Although, nothing wrong with, you know, just
— Live your dreams.
Yeah. Live your life. [Laughter] Doing whatever you want. Whatever brings you joy.
Sparks joy. Is that — am I allowed to say that? Or is that trademarked? Yeah. You’ll be demonetized. [Laughter] It’s fine. Any parting thoughts for our audience on YouTube? Live your life. Be a gymnast. [Laughter] Why not? Go for the gold. Thank you, David, so much. Thanks, Andrew. It’s been a pleasure. I’ve actually gotten to know some things about you I didn’t know before, which I enjoy. One of the reasons I like doing this. I learned that you could be a gymnast. No, no! I never said I could be. [Laughter] I believe you could be. He didn’t listen to my lesson! [Laughter] My lower back right now is telling me that it is too late to try to be a gymnast.
So, all right. Thank you, David. Thank you. It’s been a pleasure. And thanks for watching. If you want to watch
more, please click Subscribe below and — Is it there?
Over here? Somewhere? And happy crafting, everyone!