Robert Ryman is famous for his “white on white” type of paintings. Many will ask the question, “How is this art?”

Art is anything we do that brings emotional labor to the table to make connections. The very fact that it sparks a question of intrigue or even frustration from the viewer makes it art. “I could do that!”

Ryman saw what others can’t see. And that is the job of the best artists in the world is to draw you in and think.

The only limits we have are the ones we put on ourselves.

Post, 1981 by Robert Ryman

Lithuanian Press Ban

As punishment for the January Uprising and an attempt to Russify Lithuania, from 1865 until 1904 it was illegal to print or distribute any books in Latin within the Russian Empire. To counter this, Lithuanians organized printing outside the Empire’s reach and smuggled books in. Stores were put up as fronts for underground bookstores. The ban was mostly unsuccessful. In the final years, 30,000 to 40,000 books were “illegally” brought in.

While access to material is so easy today, we forget that people have violently fought for their right to learn along the way. I’ve been asked before if the books I read would be considered dangerous. My response is, “Only if you read them.” It’s a touch dramatic but to read is to see. To see is to change.

Vincas Juška, Lithuanian Book Smuggler


The more one reduces daily life obligations and maintenance, the more capacity one has to be creative.

Capacity is the keyword here. Because having discretionary time doesn’t mean you choose to engage in the process of making something. In fact, most just jump on Twitter or Netflix.

Often, people make the mistake of confusing time with freedom. Freedom thrives with a structure which means constraints.

What makes creative people creative isn’t having some Muse visit them throughout the day. Creative people carve out time to do creative acts.

They serve their art because art doesn’t serve anyone.


The Latin word for Inspiration is Inspirare which means to breathe in or blow out.

Most people like to think of inspiration that comes to us like the air we breathe. I much prefer the image of breathing life into something.

Inspiration isn’t this mystical entity that decides to bless us with its presence. In fact, inspiration doesn’t precede the work. More often than not, it is the other way around. We do the work and then the inspiration comes.

To doubt our work is to doubt ourselves

It’s one thing to worry about the joke you wrote isn’t very good.

It’s another thing to say, “I can’t tell a good joke.”

Doubt will always be present in any creative endeavor.

We can doubt the work (in which we may be too close to even objectively see it) but we don’t need to doubt ourselves.

Data is beautiful

Most people understand that there are now 8 billion people that occupy Earth but it is so hard for each of us to wrap our brain around it. Human beings struggle to comprehend 8 billion of anything, much less infinity. A great storyteller, however, can use that data and show us something we all know but have never actually seen.

HT Alasdair Rae for creating a masterpiece. I highly recommend clicking the link to scroll through the different maps he created.

Seven years and 360,000 words later

Yesterday marked seven years of consecutive blog posts totaling 360,000 words.

I could go back and rewrite so many of these posts differently. Perhaps, even better. But other than the day of corrections, they stay as is. Regardless of how my mind has changed (and it has dramatically since starting this blog). Because this is a process, an evolution of ideas to be shared.

Indeed, whatever you decide to put yourself into, you get.

Missing ingredients

It’s hard to bake a cake without eggs. Not much available to substitute if you didn’t already plan ahead for it.

How can you be expected to follow through on your art without all the ingredients in hand?

Substitutions are difficult to come by. Having enough to begin is the key.

Stepping up

Every time we pick up our phones, there is evidence that our world is deteriorating. Everything is chalked up to society’s problems: climate change, destabilization of democracy, the threat of nuclear war, the economy…

It’s a miracle how things hold together. And the fear of it falling apart is always looming in the back of our minds. No one wants to go back to the way things were, and yet at the same time, most are dissatisfied with the way things are. It can become a toxic relationship to open up your phone and see things not getting better.

Progress is hard to measure day-to-day. We often don’t see it in ourselves much less in the world around us. Which means we need to find a different way to measure. Progress at the macroscale can be seen in the micro. The school teacher goes the extra mile to help a student understand the value of algebra or the person stops by their neighbors just to check in. Millions upon millions of these small kind acts happen every day.

Perhaps the way we can measure progress is not to wait for someone in the world to step up but instead, we can step up to the world around us.