THE ONLY THING INTERESTING ABOUT ART….FAILURE

“No matter how far you may dig into the the depths of your soul, eventually you will come out an asshole” -Norman Mailer. Great things come out of shit. Remember that. -Me

In the art world, if you are not failing then you are stealing someones else’s work.

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This is the story of “lessons in accidental success.”

Failure is an odd word. Failure is often used when “not showing up” is the accurate word choice. In life we have morals, ethics, sin and grace, yet there is no failure in nature, so why do we place it into our man-made-culture? Is a volcano a failure? Is a melting iceberg a failure? It’s all process. Perfection is found in the doing. Creative human beings: it’s an oxymoron. Drop the word being, drop the word creative…human defines the process.

Doing or not doing. That’s it…nothing, no others words (or judgment) needed.

The photos in this post today all came out of a failed project. For weeks I had conceived this composition in my mind. A multiple exposer of light, water, architecture and 30 seconds of time. I set up my gear, composed my shot, hit the shutter and then was saddened by my own creation. Discipline of repetition for the next twenty shots I reframed, refocused and still nothing but failure.

After giving up on the original idea, I gave myself a “create” test. Go for a walk, but every shot must be accomplished using the multiple exposer technique. With a blend of inspiration and hunger I stumbled into lucky accidents in success.

If you’re not growing then you’re dead. Art is dead without mistakes. Beautiful accidents in success. Picasso knew that, Miles Davis knew that. There is joy in repetition only when you f’ up. The mysteries are only revealed in the searching. Grace does not come to those who ask. Grace only shows her face in the times of struggles.

Interview I did with The CEO Library

What’s your favorite book and why? Business and non-business, if possible.

On the Shortness of life by Seneca. This is the book that I recommend to everybody. It’s everything you will need to make it in life & business. It is by far a complete business self-motivational book all-in-one. The best thing is that it’s 2,000-year of time-tested wisdom.


Was there a moment, specifically, when something you read in a book helped you? Can you tell me about it?

That is hard to pinpoint into only one answer. Every book has at least that one sentence that I will carry with me forever. In Peter Thiel’s book, he asks the question “What important truth do very few people agree with you on?” If you can answer that question it will give you the direction on how & where to grow your life & business to the next level.


What books had the biggest impact on you? (perhaps changed the way you see things, dramatically changed your career path)

Without a doubt: Seneca’s On the Shortness of Life. I am paraphrasing here: The opening of the book starts off with the sentence, “Life is long if you know how to use it.
Here is my second favorite: “It is not that we have so little time but that we lose so much… The life we receive is not short but we make it so; we are not ill provided but use what we have wastefully.
What I have taken out of this book is to enjoy life and to enjoy being of service to others. That is how business grows & the secret to personal happiness.

What books would you recommend to youngsters interested in your professional path? Why? (no number limit here)

Photography is an ever-expanding field, yet the fundamentals never change, also this is where many fall short.

Understanding Exposure by Bryan Peterson is the book that I recommend to anybody starting off.

You can probably guess by now that I recommend “On the Shortness of Life” by Seneca. The fundamentals never change, even after 2,000 yrs.


I’m interested in finding out more about your reading habits. How often do you read? In what format?

I read two books a month on average. I use my local library to feed my addiction. I like paper books the best, it is simply the feel of holding a book that I love the best. I also keep my Moleskine journal next to me while reading for note-taking. This is how you can get your Ph.D. in life if you become a good note taker.


How do you make time for reading?

I have no direct answer for that. Watch less TV?


Do you take notes or have any other technique for conquering the torrent of information?

Moleskine journal; it worked for Picasso & Hemingway. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. Writing your thoughts/notes down in paper & pen just seems to keep it right there in my waking consciousness.


How do you choose what books to read next?

BrainPickings.com & New York Times books section helps me a lot. Also, I find one book leads me to the next book, reading in itself is a path to discovery. Oh, yes, friends. Your entrepreneurial friends are readers; ask them what they are currently reading.


Do you prioritize those recommended by certain people? Is there anyone that you consider a book-recommendations guru?

The only book, or should I say author, that takes priority is Haruki Murakami. He is a Japanese novelist that takes me into the next world. His style is surreal. Check it out. Start with Kafka on the Shore.


Last question: what book are you currently reading and what are you expecting to gain from it?

Currently reading Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson: What am I expecting from it? The same things I expect from every book that I read: to change my life for the better.



Books mentioned by John Craig in this interview: