Friday, July 12, 2013

Wreck This Journey! Week 1

Get flipping excited, everybody -- it's Wreck This Journal time!

We just completed Week One (one page a day, 5 days a week), and I am all kinds of embarrassed to discover that I am *terrible* at vlogging! My hat is off to all you regular vloggers - hot damn.

That said, we all know practice is a part of the process (right?) -- so I'm looking forward to getting better in future videos. In the meantime, enjoy my first tottering steps, and don't forget to link to your own response videos below!

::UPDATE:: Driving seven hours to a lake in Minneapolis makes it difficult to upload videos to YouTube. Once I'm off the road, I'll get it up here, promise.

::UPDATE UPDATE:: At long last, here it is!! (Yeah, I know, only took me an extra week. Great terribleness takes time, kids!)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Take Five With Mickey Pangburn

Mickey Pangburn

Creative Specialties:
Songwriting, Music, Singing, Painting, Latte Art

Current Location:
Tempe Arizona

Mini Bio:
In fear for her life, Norah B. took her then-3-year-old daughter Mickey Louise and fled her home in Knoxville Tennessee. Mickey's convict father was hot in pursuit, causing them to live in hiding for the next 15 years. Running from state to state, Mickey took to a life of secrecy and solitude; spending most days alone in her room making mixed tapes, and writing songs with an acoustic guitar her mother picked up at a yard-sale. In college she met and married drummer Jesse Pangburn, and the two studied jazz. They moved to Tempe AZ, and formed The Prowling Kind out of coffee culture meet-ups and late night jams. Their debut album, Tennessee, is comprised of glimpses into Mickey's tumultuous childhood, and Norah's young love of an outlaw. A story sure to draw you in.


1) What is one thing you've learned as an artist that you wish you'd known when you first started out?

Use the time you think you’re “stuck in waiting”, to refine your skills. Allow room to be creative and practice without expectations. Those behind the scenes hours count. It’s what we don’t see, that makes what we do see (be it -on stage/canvas/film, wherever) worthwhile.

2) How do you cope with creative anxiety and societal expectations?

In the words of Regina Spektor, “People are just people, they shouldn’t make you nervous.” Maybe everybody won’t dig what I do….but that has to be Okay. It’s simple, but that’s how I see it.

3) If money was no object, what would you make?

What I make now, only faster. My mind goes a million miles an hour, pulling my ambitions right along. My pocketbook slows me down though and I think God intended it that way. I need to be slowed down enough to at least let the good stuff sink in and gain meaning.

4) How do you deal with the inevitable uncertainty that accompanies a creative life?

I’m a planner. Uncertainty can be terrifying. I generally freak out as a means of “dealing”. By the time I come to my senses (either as a result of my husband’s gentile rebuking/ or much needed prayer) I remember that this creative life is the only option for me. As humbling, disconcerting & uncertain as it may be- it’s what I was made for. I am happy to say however, my freak out episodes have decreased steadily over the years!

5) What is the greatest challenge you have faced as a creative person?

Just letting myself be me and letting a project be what it is. There’s always room and need for growth, but I realized that if I wait till I’m perfect at anything- nothing will EVER get done! If I change the harmony of that song one more time, I may never actually record it! Simply allowing myself to take each experience for what it’s worth, acknowledging it as a means of refining, or allowing it to be a testament to a specific season (and not the end-all-be-all summation of my creative expression!), has been the biggest and most rewarding challenge.

The Prowling Kind's debut album, Tennessee, drops on August 27th! You can read more about Mickey and their band on their WEBSITE! You can even download a copy of their first single "Babycakes" for free!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Driving While Creative: Trying To Function Normally Sucks

If you're anything like me, there's lots of stuff that inspires you, or at least lots of stuff that piques your interest. The problem is, most of that stuff happens while you're trying to do other things. For example:

Photo by William Lesch.
I live in Tucson, Arizona. If you've never traveled here, you should know there are two things about this city that are so stunningly gorgeous and distinctive, I'm shocked we don't have them printed on our city seal: our mountains and our sunsets. Tucson is located in a valley between the Santa Catalina, Rincon, Santa Rita, and Tucson mountain ranges Although our mountains do have a good amount of greenery when compared to the desert below, they also have a lot of exposed rock face -- which makes for AMAZING textures, especially in the late afternoon/early evening.

Which brings me to my next rhapsody: the sunsets. The Sunsets. Tucson's sunsets are, in my mind, to this day unparalleled by any sunset I've seen elsewhere. I mean, look at it:

And that doesn't even get into the saguaros, or all the super cool wildlife, or our absolutely epic monsoon season . . . (yeah, I'm a desert rat in love with my home, I know).

The point is, I live is a beautiful freaking place, and seeing all this stuff just drives me wild with inspiration. Only problem? It tends to happen when I'm driving.

Yes, because I am so enamored with the beautiful world I live in, I have trouble resisting an almost irrepresible urge to make some terrible decisions, along with some that are highly inconvenient, or just plain awkward for everyone involved, all in the name of capturing inspiration. These include, but are not limited to:
  • photographing while driving (bad, BAD idea)
  • filming while driving (ditto)
  • stopping the car on the side of the road every five minutes to document the scenery
  • totally, totally, invading someone's property just so that I can capture this one really cool thing (and 99.9% of the time it's the railroad that owns it, and those people can be quite intimidating when they tell you to get off the damn tracks)
  • making mential notes to somehow get a picture in the future of some location, only to later drive past there and not be able to find it
  • weaving like an idiot in my lane before I realize what I'm doing, all because I saw something gorgeous
Now, I don't mean to give the impression that all artists are bad at driving -- I'm actually quite safe on the road, so long as I keep my eyes squarely on the pavement and the cars around me -- but it sucks to be passing all of this great inspiring stuff, and not be able to document any of it, all just because I'm supposed to be driving. Freaking societal responsibility and traffic laws and whatnot, amiright??

In all seriousness, the great part about inspiration is that you don't necessarily have to get a picture of whatever it is that inspires you in order for you to remember it . . . but if you're thinking that a photo is the only way you're going to remember exactly how that light looked falling across that tree, you might want to have a designated driver.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Inspiration About Inspiration -- We're Going Meta, Y'all!

Tuesdays are the days where we try to give you the fuel you need to conquer each week's challenge. Since this week we're challenging you to get out and collect snippets of inspiration, I figure it's high-time we talk about what that whole inspiration concept is actually about.

To begin, a little etymology, anyone? Check it:
inspiration (n.)
 c.1300, "immediate influence of God or a god," especially that under which the holy books were written, from Old French inspiracion "inhaling, breathing in; inspiration," from Late Latin inspirationem (nominative inspiratio), noun of action from past participle stem of Latin inspirare "inspire, inflame, blow into," from in- "in" (see in- (2)) + spirare "to breathe" (see spirit). Literal sense "act of inhaling" attested in English from 1560s. Meaning "one who inspires others" is attested by 1867.
To put it simply, "breathed from God." As you might guess from the time the word came into being, it was generally used to refer to the concept of the Christian Bible being an accurate transcription of divine will. Unlike the word, the concept has been around much longer. Recognize these ladies?

Those are the Disney-ized version of the Muses, the goddesses responsible for creative inspiration back in the good old days of Ancient Greece. (Humanities 101, I knew you were going to come in handy one day!)

See any similarity of concept?

Back in the day, inspiration was something that came from outside yourself.

We've talked before about how artists tend to put a bit too much pressure on themselves to come up with the next super brilliant thing that no one's ever thought of before. While that's all well and good, it seems a bit like throwing the waterskis in front of speedboat, amiright? Speaking of which, I have a heck of a waterskiing story to tell you all sometime. For now, the TL;DR version is that over the course of attempting to waterski for the first time ever, I realized that I was going to need to stop trying to actively get up on the water, and instead let the forces at play between the water and the boat and the skis go on and push me up there. And I'll be honest -- I didn't actually get up on top of my skis this time. But that's why there's always tomorrow. The point is, I couldn't just make it happen. Instead, I needed to experience all the things going on around me, and find a way to make myself work within that experience.

Do you see what I'm getting at here?

Whether you're out walking, or working, or helping a friend clean out their storage, or getting your morning coffee, or driving across the country on an epic roadtrip, or just enjoying how darn cute your furbabies are (okay, maybe that last one's just me), you are always in a position to be inspired. Forces are moving outside of you -- and you, the creative, have the ability to shape yourself to channel those forces and make something out of all the cool stuff you experience everyday.

Now go do it.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Challenge 14: Operation Inspiration

The last couple weeks we have had some pretty intense challenges here on the blog.  We've let ourselves dream about the mountains we'd like to reach with our creative lives, and then took the time to figure out just how in the hell we are going to actually get there.

That stuff is all fantastic and really great for us, but let's face it… for the most part it isn't very fun.

So this week we are shaking things up again and injecting just a bit more fun into the weekly challenge.  And yes, as I'm sure you have so masterfully deduced, it has something to do with a camera.

Here's the thing about inspiration, as much as it may seem like the metaphorical lighting bolt to the brain at times, really it's just a collection of slow hunches.  These hunches simply have had enough time to sit around in your brain getting to know one another until one day all the pieces you've already gathered meet in just the right way, click together and form an idea.  If you don't believe me, Steven Johnson wrote an entire book on the process. We've even talked about this before on the blog HERE if you want to find out more.

So now that Mr. Johnson has so kindly shown us how good ideas come into being we can make two pretty powerful observations:

1) Art and inspiration cannot be created in a vacuum.

2) We actually have to work at gathering thoughts and ideas for our brain to have the fuel it needs to be inspired.


I think a lot of times as creative people we spend WAY to much time locked up in our studios trying to work instead of out gathering fuel for our creative brain.  To be a successful creative we need to have both a strong work ethic and the heart of an explorer/collector, one without the other usually leads to trouble.

So for your challenge this week we are going to simply gather some fuel for our creative flames by going for a walk.

A walk!? Yes a walk.

I know, I know, this sounds more like exercise than a creative project, but stay with me.

Here are your guidelines (because rules are for the man):

1) Pick an area of your town that you have never explored before to have your walk in. 

WARNING: Be smart people, don't go walking around somewhere dangerous. That's not the imagination inspiration we're talking about here.

2) Bring your camera. (Boom foreshadowed camera coming into play!)

DSLR, point and shoot, cell phone cam, it doesn't matter as long as it takes pictures, we're not trying to be Ansel Adams here or anything.

3) Go for a walk, take pictures of ANYTHING that you find interesting.

Seriously, whatever strikes your fancy, photograph it.  Pile of colorful trash? Boom, photograph it!  Interesting architectural detail? Boom, photograph it!  You get the idea.

4) Share the photos you take by hash-tagging them #bravetheabyss!

That's it!  No deep emotional journey, no searching of your soul, just some good old creative fun in the sun, or rain, or whatever the weather may be where you are.

Happy Photo Walking!