Advice from Christoph Niemann
about where to be efficient and where not to be:
CN: One thing that’s kind of currently my, not obsession, but something I think about a lot, is how creativity is like a sport where you have offence and defence. Offence is art, sitting there and drawing. Defence is everything else; how you have one style or how you organise your website, how you price your originals, who you talk to or what you put in your portfolio – all the stuff you can actually discuss with people.
Right now, when I play offence I want to have no rules. I don’t want to think about what’s smart. Every good thing happens when you sit down, create a mess, work hard and use all your brain and your heart to turn it into something good. There’s no way to become intelligent about it. I think it’s actually terrible if you’re trying to become intelligent about this, because it’s gut and heart and full-on energy. So if somebody comes to me with smart advice about my painting, I’m not going to listen to that. Of course, there’s good art direction, but the whole point is that it’s unpredictable, it’s weird and inefficient and strange. There’s possibility when you do something out of artistic instinct, I think going with data and looking at like my last eight Instagram posts is terrible.
INT: No, and it definitely never equates to happiness.
CN: Definitely not happiness! Maybe success, maybe someone will figure that out but I don’t want to know.
INT: You’re right, though – it’s important to have all those details like your website, taxes, management in order to be free with creative work, and use your gut, as you say.
CN: And I usually find that, in that department, the defence, good enough is usually fine. Whereas with my offence it’s not about good enough. If it takes you 100 hours it’s not about “was that worth it?” If it needs to better and different it needs to be better and different. If it’s going to take you ten nights to do that, then so be it. Whereas if you feel eight hours every week is going towards preparing your taxes, you might want to think about getting someone else to do that for you because that’s something that should be efficient. Look, you’re an artist! You shouldn’t spend that much time on that.
I try to be efficient at all things — except when I find something really compelling and just keep at making some animation work or some module right. Then, I usually feel bad about it. Maybe it makes sense to just mark off something that you know you're going to get obsessed with and accept in advance that it's not going to look good in Observatory