It’s been 3 years since I last posted here. I think I stopped after the short film The Reinvention of Normal about me came out. I got inundated with requests for interviews and to do interesting projects and to give talks about my thoughts on creativity. That was all great but it meant that I no longer had the time and space to write things here. One of those requests was an invite to be a guest on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Here’s a video of the last part but I was on for about 7 minutes and showed 7 other things. I should write a post about it one day.
Since last I posted I’ve started a worldwide children’s project called Little Inventors, spoke at the UN, and been made an Honorary Doctorate in Art and Design at my home town University of Sunderland.
When I’m busy it keeps my mind in the normal day to day, but I need to get my thoughts outside of that place to find interesting ideas. So I’m going to return to this blog to use it as a sort of diary for me and place to share new ideas, big or small.
I began this blog in 2009 while living in Berlin for a few months and it changed my life. At the time, I was searching for some direction, not sure what I was doing or what I should be doing.
I’d gone through the best creative education I could have hoped for including an intense 2 years at the Royal College of Art in 2002. I learned a lot at the RCA but I lost myself a little when surrounded by famous designer tutors all giving advice and me testing myself to see if I could apply my imagination to the various design briefs we were set. Then I had a few years working with a friend I’d met on the course, we were called Mosley meets Wilcox. We did some interesting work including collaborating with a famous photographer Mick Rock designing some objects inspired by his photos of Bowie, Blondie and Lou Reed. Then from 2006 I went solo and drifted along, not sure as to what I should do.
I was interested in things that didn’t fit neatly in the design or art world at that time so I couldn’t rely on the support of the art gallery system, but I also wasn’t interested in designing things for mass production. I just didn’t know where my work fitted in the world or how to show it, and so I sat about not doing much.
I lived in London but decided to visit Berlin for a few months for a change of perspective and to try to sort my head out. I visited Gorlitzer park and sat watching some old punk rockers playing golf and frisbee each day. I had some sketchbooks of ideas that I’d always talked about putting together as a book but never quite got around to it. Boredom is a great motivator and I had the idea, while sitting in the park, to start a blog called Variations on Normal. I uploaded 7 invention idea drawings and it got picked up by a big website called digg.com. Suddenly I had people commenting on my work. I’d found a way to show my work and it motivated me to keep adding more ideas and things took off from there.
I think the thing I’ve learned is that if you want to find a direction in life then it is best to just get on with doing it, not thinking about doing it. The process of doing things gets the train moving and it can take you to unexpected places.