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Jon Burgerman tells us how to train your creative brain

Ashleigh Allsopp | Sept. 9, 2013
Artist Jon Burgerman lets us in on the secrets to creativity, which include ditching your routine, turning off your computer and wearing colourful socks.

"I've been there three years. I've renewed my visa, so maybe I'll be there for a few more years. Let's see what happens.

"America, there's a lot of good and bad things about it, like anywhere. But there are a lot of creative, interesting, intelligent people there."

You always seem to be able to think outside the box and do things that no one else has done before, sometimes totally wacky things. How do you do it, and how can other artists start thinking that way?
JB: "I like playing with perspective a little bit, and I think this is a little bit playful. We immediately understand how it works and anyone can do it. Once you start doing these little things then you start to see other things in another way. One thing leads to another. No one makes a big leap all in one go. It's a little train of thought.

"Have a pen, take some chalk. Think: "What does this look like what could it be?"

"It's simple stuff. Being creative is like an exercise, so do it, keep doing it, you're training, you're building that kind of muscle. You get better at it and you see things in a different way.

"Not doing something means you're never going to do it. Work isn't magically going to appear. You have to sometimes go through a period of crappy stuff to get to the good stuff.

Do you ever feel like you're going through a period of crappy stuff?
JB: "I feel like that all the time. It's a human thing isn't it? We have self-doubt, we're not sure, look what that guy made. It's natural, completely natural. There isn't anyone that doesn't feel like that, even if they're at the top of their game. The best athlete or actor or the highest paid whatever. It's natural, let's not dwell on it too much.

"And sometimes it's good to turn off the computer and turn off the distraction and so you're untethered and you can just float around in your thoughts and make things yourself.

"Looking at other art is good but go to a museum, go to a gallery go to a library, go walk around, walk around your city, go to places you've not been to. You'll see stuff, you'll start to notice things.

"Make a little visual, digital scrapbook of stuff. Collect stuff."

Can you tell us a little more about your gallery exhibition?
JB: "It's some of my new work and some of those works. It's sort of about consumer culture. That what we want is not necessarily what we really want but it's what we're conditioned to want. That's a bit of a failure of judgement.


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