The Creative Stance from Common Editions

As new publication The Creative Stance hits the shelves, we share some of the hard-earned secrets of creative success from its starry contributors. The Creative Stance celebrates “the principles essential to creative success, in all disciplines and walks of life” – here are our top 20 favourite quotes from the luminaries interviewed on its pages:

1 “Resilience is so important nowadays. I do think, the product you put out is there to create a dialogue and to create an emotional response and be criticised. There has to be understanding of who you are because you can’t be everything to everyone – Louise [Wilson] always said that – and, as your career goes on, you realise that there is a core to your practice and you have to protect that.” Mary Katrantzou

2 “In my experience the most successful artists are pragmatic and work-obsessed; in a word, rigorous. When I am asked, ‘if you could give a student one tip about how to get on in the art world, what would it be?’, I often reply, ‘Turn up on time, be nice and put in the hours.’ All the talent in the world can be wasted if an artist struggles with punctuality, good relationships and hard work.” Grayson Perry

The Creative Stance, published by Common Editions, illustrated by Jay Cover
3 “The first few months at the beginning of the academic year are the most exciting. They are about challenging and changing perceptions, particularly in relation to art-making.” Sonia Boyce

4 “When you find somebody else who you absolutely trust, who has an intelligence that is utterly opposite to your own and you agree to collide, this thing gets born as if it were a child, if you like, which is something neither of you could have imagined.” Helen Storey

5 “By making it myself, I hold on to experimentation and the creativity. It make sense to hold on to the fact that I make something myself. You’re in a lawless space – I call it a no-man’s-land – when you’re in the studio and you don’t know what you’re doing and why, and then you come across something.” Marvin Gaye Chetwynd

6 “Art students look at the world as outsiders and demand change. Artists and designers do not celebrate the status quo but ask questions demanding new creative ways of thinking. Art is about rebellion.” Bob and Robert Smith

7 “As a young artist it’s easy to give up your authority to an arena in which a lot of people are not acting in a way that you find very supportive to a collaborative, progressive future – to a progressive idea of what the future can be. So what do you do? You have to do two things. You have to make artworks that are provocative and, at the same time, you also have to change the landscape that art exists within. This is important, and has always been the Herculean task – to reshape the world to contain the artwork you make, to create a new reality – because its never been enough just to make the art.” Roger Hiorns

8 “That’s the important thing – how you can invent, over a period of time, the rules that apply to you, rather than always adhering to rules made by somebody else. That takes practice.” Siobhan Davies

9 “Confidence in your own creativity and decision-making is essential… Because the other reason personal resilience is important in the creative world is that there is no exact answer – no right or wrong.” Jane Rapley

10 “John Dewey, the wonderful philosopher, talked about it as the flight and perching of the bird; you’re in the moment and then you stop, you’re immersed and cannot stop and then there’s the moment of reflection. Both are absolutely essential. The extraordinary thing that I have learned is how and when to stop, and also just how much time it takes me to reflect fully on what I’ve done.” Edmund de Waal

The Creative Stance from Common Editions illustrations by Jay Cover

11 “The practice of a dancer or choreographer includes revealing how physical intelligence can be put to work. We can explore this with great variety and it is a useful tool for everyone, regardless of their chosen medium. Movement is a form of thinking and communicating.” Siobhan Davies

12 “I don’t know about setting out to take risks… It’s not so much do with taking risks. It’s to do with recognising that pitiful little gestures or small events can be immensely profitable and then having the confidence to pursue them.” Richard Deacon

13 “You start looking at stuff and you ask the question, is it art? What is its function in our visual culture, and how do you handle other peoples’ cultures? That’s the best idea I’ve had, to just look in extraordinary places.” Stephen Farthing

14 “It’s important, because it’s not obvious to be yourself. I think that the thing that squashes most people is homogeneity.” Roger Hiorns

15 “I would say that good students are the ones with an intellectual curiosity and who make connections between the most diverse set of circumstances.” Stephen Farthing

16 “At CSM I found a personality within my work, because that independence, as soon as I got used to it, gave you the space and the time to really challenge your work.” Mary Katrantzou

17 “In this sense you have to be prepared to expose yourself and be vulnerable.  You may introduce all sorts of tactics to hide and mitigate that kind of exposure, but you will have to step out at some point – and that can be very challenging… It’s often a dumb procedure that unlocks a door.” Mark Dunhill

18 “There’s also a process for innovation, and that, I think, is deeply personal and is sometimes not analysed. I pretty much know that if I put the hours in, I can master a whole wide range of practices, but it’s about how I then personalise that and evolve my own path up the mountain.” Fred Deakin

The Creative Stance from Common Editions illustrations by Jay Cover

19 “When we describe someone as creative, we are describing the manner in which they apply their intelligence to the world around them… This approach is quicksilver – the enemy of your own and other people’s certainty. A state of optimistic dissatisfaction, of relentless questioning. A preoccupation with quality without regard for the established order. It is a holistic intelligence and attends, as Siobhan Davies says, ‘to the way the whole body works as an integrated system.'” These points of view are learned as much as innate… at art and design schools, creativity is taught in a collaborative way that shares the ‘authentic’ experience of ‘not knowing where you’re going’ as Helen Storey says.” Nigel Carrington

20 “In the end, you only have the person to deal with. I think, in an art school, you’re looking for the person all the time and what you’re trying to do is to get that student to define themselves and to understand who they are.” Jane Rapley

The Creative Stance is published by Common Editions in association with UAL and celebrates 30 years since UAL’s colleges first came together. Read more about the newest guide to creative success, The Creative Stance