Good morning everyone.
What a summit it’s been so far!!
Thank you Caroline and Sumit
for inviting me to this amazing and very unique event
and to Maria for being the one who contacted me
and made the introduction…..
For those of you who I haven’t met,
I’m a fine artist who’s specializes in using the iPad
alongside other more traditional mediums
such as oil painting, ceramics etc.
In fact, by embracing this new technology
alongside traditional values,
I now create more than I ever did before and
so many doors have opened up for me.
The iPad performed a key role
in enabling me to make that huge leap
from amateur to professional artist.
It also played a vital part in my successful relocation
to the beautiful Mexican Caribbean
where I know live and work.
So During this exciting journey,
its helped me stay in touch
with the fundamental nature
of what creativity is all about.
In the context of this talk
I’ll be speaking about the iPad
Simply because I use it a lot,
but I suppose I could just as easily be speaking
about another piece of mobile digital technology
The iPad is such a versatile tool
that I’d be out of place
to start telling you HOW you should use it
in a technical sense.
That’s for you to explore and find your own paths.
And thank goodness I don’t have a formula!
You’ll have met many experts during the summit
that were able to share their knowledge on the best applications,
recording styles and mark making accessories that are available.
Rather If I may,
I’d like to reflect on why and when
the iPad found its place
as an ESSENTIAL AND CENTRAL TOOL in my own practice.
And in doing so,
I’d like to consider the wider significance of this Mobile art Movement
in the context of the creative process,
which all of you can apply to your own practice.
This short talk will include snippets of my own
and others stories and analogies.
And hopefully I’ll be able to leave you
with little bits of inspiration
to help you think about
what a powerful tool the iPad can be
in helping us to break through our daily creative barriers
and establish a sustainable and robust contemporary practise.
My moment of truth
So I’d like to begin with the turning point
in my own creative process.
I think that my moment of truth
in terms of me really understanding the creative process
was during my foundation year at university
in my home town of North London.
The first 70% of this course was experimental and ungraded,
enabling students to have virtually full freedom of expression
and unlimited access
to any of the specialist mediums that were available.
there was vital guidance and thematic structure.
otherwise we’d have spent the whole time
expressing ourselves in our local pub!!!!..
I’m sure you have the equivalent here in the US
but it truly was, for me, a fantastic year.
I think I enjoyed it more than my three year degree
which followed shortly after.
It was the time of discovery.
Before going studying art at University
I was already quite proficient at drawing and painting from observation
and It’s easy to become addicted to that wow factor
experienced when you see an incredibly technical
and well observed drawing or painting.
But we know better right?
And there’s a great spirit of experimentation in the room from what I’ve seen this weekend.
So When you get technically good at something
there’s a danger of getting stuck with what works.
at that time,
creating art solely as an act of academic copying,
I was in a place of zero change and zero challenge.
A very nice comfortable place.
Fortunately for myself,
I had an extremely wise tutor called Rosemary,
who quickly saw through this protective veneer called fear.
So out of what I know understand to be pure compassion,
She knocked this bad habit on the head immediately!
I remember it vividly….
Picture the beginning of that usual conventional life drawing class.
The model had been arranged in front of us
and we were preparing our easels, paper etc.
With a sly little grin
and to the great entertainment of the rest of the students,
my tutor snatched my precious pencil out of my hand
(I was upset, it was like the cigarette I’d never smoked….)
and she gave away my easel.
I had been exposed
and thrown out into the unknown…
She pointed to a large pile of aluminum sheet offcuts in the corner of the workshop
And These were her very words:
“Adam, you will never use a pencil again during this course
as long as I am your tutor.
Here’s a spot welder,
a pair of pliers
and some metal scissors.
These are your new materials,
By the way
I’ve only recently got my own back in a big way
by going straight out to buy the iPad pencil.
which I’m totally addicted to again!!!
I took the challenge of working with metal.
What followed was a painful and incredibly messy process .
Three hours later I had created a sculptural form.
something like a shell of a human figure.
I’d been forced to move around the space,
sometimes going right up to the model.
In effect, I’d become a mobile artist.
Yes Sumit and Caroline,
there were mobile artists before mDAC!!
I just wasn’t digital yet.
So my making process had somehow transformed.
It had become fresh, alive and inventive.
I had to think so hard.
It was physically challenging too
and it took lots of blood and guts.
They didn’t have such a thing as health and safety in those days..
But I persevered and struggled to finish the piece.
I loved the results and I never turned back.
Well, I guess thats when the element of performance entered my world
and why I chose sculpture as a degree.
Maybe the experience
has something to do with why
I now take every opportunity
not to be stuck in my studio
and why the iPad
has kind of taken it’s place when I’m on the move.
What did I learn?
I learned a huge lesson that day.
what did Rosemary teach me?
She taught me the simple but not always easy idea
that pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones
and embracing change
was a necessary part of building a rigorous creative process.
I believe that it’s a core aspect of what creativity is
accepting the new
breaking out of your fears
following the unknown etc.
It builds resilience to change
Which is an important responsibility we must accept
in the path of our own success as artist entrepreneurs
The isolated artist myth
So that little experience
set up a chain of events in my life
which quickly dispelled the old ideal of the isolated artist
being discovered one day by a collector or gallery.
But like every great piece of advice,
it did take a few years for the message to sink in.
In fact the romantic idea of the struggling artist genius,
isolated in his cold studio
was more deeply imbedded than I thought.
I spent two years after my degree
doing exactly this!!
I’d passed a fine art degree
but unfortunately in those days,
they had provided me with no tools
or platforms for self promotion,
no structure for self discipline
and no understanding of how the art industry functioned.
Finding my unique path
So after two years of going nowhere fast,
I jumped at the opportunity to gain my newly qualified teaching status.
To be honest,
I went into teaching
because I wasn’t ready to become a serious professional artist.
Not in a negative way.
It was my personal path
and what now makes me unique as an artist.
Both my father and grandfather were teachers
and so it was in my blood.
In fact teaching, coaching or mentoring
should be an important part of any artists practise.
We naturally want to give back when we achieve our artistic goals right?
For 15 years, It was one of the greatest challenges of my life.
In fact I could argue that I’m only here today at mDAC
because of my teaching career.
It was during this time
that I became a specialist in using the latest iPad technology in the classroom
as a creative learning tool.
And I was passionate about ensuring that my students were up to date
with latest developments and opportunities
mainly because I wanted them to possess the skills needed
to enter the arts industry confidently should they choose too.
The digital medium was going to be a significant part of their future learning needs
As a head of art, I wanted to teach all my students to become independent thinkers.
Not just the minority.
I didn’t like the way arts ed was often perceived
as a low ranking subject with little value or respect
It was perceived by the community as the easy subject,
the one where children could just relax after an intensive lesson of algebra!!! really…
well that wasn’t my understanding of the value of art.
There was a lot of institutions
where making was the creative process alone
Most kids love making
but asking themselves why? wasn’t so popular
problem solving, taking risks,
being intuitive, self criticism,
taking the path of self discovery and expression was not an easy option
I wanted to help them understand that the creative process
was a key skill for success and happiness in all fields.
And this is how the iPad entered the classroom.
There were little barriers,
it was a neutral medium in terms of its accessibility
The iPad often made the process of turning an idea into action easy.
For instance one of my past art students David loved maps.
He wanted to create a set of drawings
that represented his journeys.
The drawing became a kind of map
that expressed the journey through his five senses.
to give you an example.
using layers in a painting app he drew the route home over a google map reference
and then used a noise meter to register the decibels on each street corner.
he recorded stills and videos of interesting people, surfaces and objects
he came across on his journey,
he gaged the temperature each day whilst traveling,
he recorded the sounds he heard
and made notes of what he was eating
and what he could smell.
needless to say he had some great in depth primary sources to then produce his physical drawings back in the studio.
He achieved an A grade in his final exam.
The iPad made in-depth personal research and scholarship
enjoyable and accessible,
something which previously achieved
complete apathy from the students at the very mention.
Art analysis anyone? ahhhh ohhhhh boohoo sirrrrrr.
professional presentation became the norm,
sharing became fast and fun,
inventive and independent learners became the whole class.
Students gained places on arts courses,
super confident to take on the challenges
and future expectations of the arts industry.
How social media habits are revolutionising the way
art is being experienced
You know it’s supper impressive when you see a young artist
already active and engaged in their own creative practise.
In my recent article on
How social media habits
are revolutionising the way
art is being experienced
I mentioned that:
“Conceived after 1982
and you’ll have a tendency to suffer
from what I’d call “digital impatience”
and understandably seek out more efficient,
accessible and exciting visual ways
of collecting, appreciating and buying art online.
I hear the ‘Baby Boomers’ parroting the age old phrase,
“what is this new generation coming to!”,
in response to the infuriating way the youth of today
experience the world through smart phones and tablets
as opposed to savouring the tangible experience.
The way Millennials behave is different
but let’s not be naive,
their experience is not better or worse than their predecessors,
it’s just unique.
If I’m really honest with myself,
my 17 year old daughter experiences the world
in a much more complex way than I ever did.
She still takes advantage of the many opportunities
to experience her environment in a tangible way.
a significant part of her social time
is spent expertly exploring, recording, sifting through and sharing
the sea of information she’s bombarded with from online sources.
A funny story during a field trip to the Louvre museum in Paris with a bunch of my students. They were excited to see the Mona Lisa. And we had interesting discussions about the controversial background of the painting. We made the quite long and complicated treck through corridors and finally reached the masterpiece. What do you think happened next.-?
30 mins of intensive selfies with me and the Mona Lisa!!!! This was the highlight of their trip!
So let’s get back to the soul of creativity..
The creative process is often an imbedded urge for us to
reflect, play, discover,
understand make sense of who we are
and where we fit in this complex world.
The making process
I recently watched one of the great series of interviews
with the late David Bowie
he was a painter as well as a song writer.
Here he described the making process when he paints and write music.
it’s getting thought it ,
it’s the process. .
..there’s something volatile, emotive
and that makes me quite angry
about going through the process.
I wouldn’t say it’s enjoyable’
but the process “turns my heart and mind to jelly,
I can’t really explain it’
“I’ve always wondered whether being an artist
is a sign of a kind of social dysfunction.
It’s an extraordinary thing to want to do do,
to express yourself in such rarified terms.
The more rational thing to do is to survive steadfastly
and create a protective home
and a warm loving environment for ones family
and get food for them.
That’s about it!
Anything else is extra,
culture is extra. ”
It’s true we actually only need to eat, drink and have shelter to survive.
But for some reason we choose to take the path less travelled.
I love Bowie’s way of responding to the question of creativity
actually using clever reverse psychology
to describe the creative process,
the thing that makes us human
and that we really can’t do without
If we want to be happy.
And Let’s be honest with ourselves,
Being creative is not generally a comfortable journey. Is it?
Or it shouldn’t be.
I mean it is incredibly rewarding in many ways.
It defines who we are and why we’re here.
But it’s tough and takes courage
As anything worthwhile does!
Really creative people are receptive to change
and open to the potential of the new.
Taking a walk Into the Unknown can be painful
but that’s what makes us human.
Putting the iPad into context
So lets put the iPad into context with regards to the creative process.
The iPad was originally developed
as a reflection of the way our social habits have been developing.
It was built as the unltimate social media tool.
Let’s not forget why Steve Jobs invented it for in the first place.
I quote him.
“iPad creates and defines an entire new category of devices that will connect users with their apps and content in a much more intimate, intuitive, and fun way than ever before.”
The digital medium
in the form of smart phones and tablets
has become imbedded in the way we
and especially the younger generation experienced the world.
Nowadays, the experience of finding something we are inspired by
is not an isolated one
as in my parent’s era.
The joy of experiencing art
is now tied-up in the act of sharing it with our peers.
I think people here in CA have a deeper understanding and acceptance of this medium.
However, this isn’t always the case everywhere
and I have had artists, collectors and even galleries miss the point totally
by questioning its validity.
The reality is that Tech and art have been inseparable
since stone age people drew on cave walls
In my recent Interview with Rex Bruce,
of LA center for the digital arts
I put the argument to him
that digital art can still often be perceived
as being artificial,
Implying its not a real or genuine fine art form.
and there’s a suggestion here that it may have lost the aura
of an original oil painting, print or sculpture
that can be made and experienced
in a real time and place
as apposed to a virtual environment.
His response was
that there’s probably a juncture at which
every new form of art
was asked a similar question.
He reminded me that when photography came out,
it was many years before it made it into a gallery
and now its fully accepted.
He pointed out how interesting it is
that the word artificial contains the word art.
The word art itself implies artifice
which in it’s origin is linked to ‘workmanship’ and ‘making’.
The implication of the language,
if one looks closely and conceptualizes,
is that all art is art-ifi-cial.
And Rex went on to mention that the word technology
comes from techne,
a word also linked to craft.
So art and technology are a very unified thing
and one does not happen without the other.
And most importantly
Rex also never makes a distinction between forms that may be considered historic in appearance or labelled as new media.
He’s right of course!
I hope you’ll agree,
that it’s the process that’s important
not the medium!
A robust creative process
So What makes a vigorous creative process
and how does the iPad fit into this?
well I’ve learned the hard way. You need to work harder than ever.
why should it be any different than my previous teaching job.
average working week – 8 x 5 – 40 hours
You need Discipline
and time management.
You need to balance doing the actual making
Alongside the PR.
80% making 20%PR is a good ratio.
You need to record and share your work with an audience,
to get recognition and to make sales.
you’ll need to become a self sufficient entrepreneur
and eventually attract outside representation
but on your terms.
So why is the iPad so useful?
As a professional artist,
my iPad gives me instant access to online resources,
It’s my sketch book and visual journal,
I can share and connect instantly on social media platforms,
Its my canvass and my painting tools,
It’s my office, studio and portfolio
I do my research on it,
I have access to my mailing list,
And I can contact anyone through video calling etc.
And I’m connected On a global level.
There are many many benefits.
As a painting and drawing medium I particularly love its immediacy
It’s Layering ability,
And it’s Colour vibrancy.
You know the colours more accurately represents the vibrant way we experience the sensation of seeing
than say the oil medium.
On the iPad the colours are light itself.
The pros and cons
But Like any medium, we need to understand its pros and cons.
And technology has always been a double edge sword
in terms of how we use it to create value.
I’m still fighting the recent battle with my own friends and family
against using their iPhones and iPads
in what often seems a negative and destructive way.
You know what Im talking about I’m sure!!
There are real dangers that we must be aware of.
In this world of mass information,
One of the big dangers of technology
is too much choice and too much distraction from the act of creating.
Too much time surfing and on social media etc.
In ‘ The Paradox of Choice’ Ted Talk
Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice.
In Schwartz’s estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralysed,
not happier but more dissatisfied.
He talks about how important it is to learn how to focus on the important
and create Less choice,
less disappointment and regret,
And therefore more happiness.
Kind of Makes sense right?
In a world of over information,
creatives need guidance in how to make the choices
in order to develop a focussed
and individual practise
that will touch their audience.
The wisest move I made was to get help early in my career.
And theres so much available now
I would hope that (in this room) we have an important role in helping others reflect on the times and use these new tools to create valuable.
So Make sure tech serves you
and that a strong practise
means that you can also serve other artists.
It’s no coincidence then
That artists wether aspiring or professional,
have been contacting me
In response to my articles
to ask me advice on how they might make use the iPad
as a creative tool to take their practise to the next level.
In this era of mass distraction,
the barriers and challenges they face are real
and are shared by many people.
- Can feel trapped, isolated and confused;
- Often lack discipline, professional habits or clarity;
- Cannot always afford start-up or maintenance costs;
- Want to keep creating even if they are physically challenged;
- Face numerous creative struggles in order to keep up with change and experience creative blocks;
- Need help in developing, recording and sharing their story;
- May become restless and feel that they need to get out of the studio and work while they are on the move; and
- May have retired early or changed their careers and now want to reconnect with their creativity
Honestly, I continue to experience these barriers on a weekly bases.
If we choose to,
the iPad and other mobile digital new technologies
can be used as powerful tools in overcoming these creative barriers
and allowing you to spend most of your time making,
whatever your process is or involves
So by popular demand,
I decided to set up ‘Barriers to Creative Breakthroughs’ programme,
where I am providing one on one coaching.
I’m coaching aspiring amateur to professional artists.
And hopefully these sessions
will become the underlying inspiration
to a more passive downloadable learning resource
that I will develop over the next year.
And when the iPad becomes obsolete?
Well I truly hope I’ll be there alongside other educators in the room
coaching artists in how to use the next mobile digital tool
So if we take a moment to reflect on how art is and will be made,
experienced, bought and sold by the future generations,
then there are a few key aspects of the tablet
that stand out to me.
It’s ability to engage
and connect a much wider group of artists,
collectors and other art aficionados
and its accessibility
as a creative making tool in the field of arts education.
And it’s really closing the new tech gap between generations
imagine how cool some of you in the room
The more mature ones
who are already grandparents,
yes there are a few!
Think how you come across to your grandchildren’s friends
when you find them asking you about the latest app!
In some ways
my own kids are way out of touch with what I’m doing…
Well socially I might be a bit behind actually.
My daughter had to teach me about snap-chat the other day.
I had no clue how you used it.
She explained that it might be a great alternative platform
to share my process.
and I found myself hatting the words that came out.
“I’m quite happy with the platforms I’m already using darling!
I know what I’m doing. I’m an expert”
obviously when I realised how condescending that must have sounded
I went straight and apologised
and made every effort to listen to her
So that she could teach me its benefits.
I’m now excited to start using the new
And similar snap chat feature on Instagram
The fast changing nature of the world of applications
means that we are constantly being encouraged and tested
to use our creativity in new ways
and we should be open to this.
Together we can help each other keep up.
Age shouldn’t be a barrier any more.
And so to sum up.
In a world that is fast becoming a global community,
I think that the way we communicate through art
is and will change enormously within the next decade.
Technology is moving exponentially
and artists will be leaders in exploring the potential
of these new inventions and discoveries.
Who knows what will replace the iPad?
I believe that through our enthusiasm
and understanding of mobile digital technology,
Artist such as ourselves,
will play an important role in championing this movement
And helping others to take advantage of the medium’s full potential
I think that the mobile art movement
will represent a key turning point in history
when art became accessible to all.
So I suppose my message is this,
we are part of the mobile art and creativity movement today.
Lets be proud to be its pioneers.
However, this does come with responsibility.
let’s not get complacent or lazy
like the artists before us who became safe and comfortable in their medium.
If anything our movement with its title
should suggest the celebration of change and innovation.
Lets celebrate our ability to move and embrace
the fast changing developments in new tech
as exciting and potential new tools
in the ongoing creative process.
I want to end on a quote by Kevin Kelly who wrote a great book called
‘The 12 Inevitable Forces that Will Shape Our Lives’
“I truly do believe that this is both the very best time
in the history of the universe, as far as we can tell,
to make something
because the tools for creation have never been more easily gotten,
they’ve never been cheaper. They’ve never been better.
They’ve never been as diverse. And they truly make things more accessible. So if you want to make something that has been made already like a book, a movie, a song, the tools to do that are just about free,
which means almost anybody in the world can get their hands on it… We’re on the cusp of all these very transformative technologies and trends that will produce more stuff and opportunities in the next 50 years than in the past 50 years as much as that’s hard to believe.” –
What an exciting time to be an artist!
Have an amazing day.
and thank you for listening…