Illuminated Chronicles: Lisa Hanawalt – XOXO Festival

Sammy Younan

Girth Radio Presents…

I can’t remember how Portland’s XOXO Festival came into my life…it’s only a couple of years old. Maybe twitter? I wanna go one year…SXSW in many ways has jumped the shark. And we don’t have anything like this in Toronto (maybe start one? Complain or Create can’t do both…). The conference feels like Portland, s’what I’d expect that city to be like: bit like Seattle with more Nike.

Following their conferences the nice XOXO people post videos of their speakers’ talks; a welcome break from the TED talks that dominate the internet. This talk by animator Lisa Hanawalt is one of their best talks:

Warm, witty, personal and insightful with many spirited comics: I didn’t know anything about Lisa Hanawalt before I pushed play. I don’t watch BoJack Horseman but I’ve seen the ads, hah!

I’m curious about the negative emotions often associated with creativity…it’s like angst is a requirement kinda like writers with alcoholism.

I don’t get the “fraud police” anxiety. Truthfully I find that concept silly like Easy-Bake Oven muffins. Why are we supposed to know what we’re doing? I certainly don’t, I haven’t mastered anything…I continue to experiment and fail and try again.

There is no one “right” way to write a novel, direct a movie etc. The whole reason I stuck with arts and crafts is for the liberty and the freedom. I want to make good mistakes. Some days I’ll suck; most days I’ll have something of value to contribute.

My confidence doesn’t flow from my work it comes from acknowledging my talent. I’m good at what I do…Wolverine’s infamous line: “I’m the best there is at what I do…” and I feel like that…it’s not Tom Cruise Top Gun Cockiness or Tom Cruise A Few Good Men Arrogance. It’s no different than when a tall person confidently says: “I’m tall.” It’s more factual than emotional.

I get discouraged when doors are not opening or frustrated when momentum has stalled. I got lots to accomplish and you’re in my way…it is as obnoxious as traffic. That’s not always a reflection on me…12 publishers passed on Harry Potter. That’s bad publishers that’s not a reflection on JK Rowling (personally) or her writing. That’s 12 people who suck at their job. Get it together, man!

Besides my standards? They’re always gonna be higher than the audiences. Always. They’re ridiculously high. One of Kobe’s strongest aspects is that he not only accepted the Jordan standard that defines the NBA; he wanted to surpass it. He talked openly about that.

That’s…a good thing having high standards. It keeps me hungry and humble always ready to rumble.

It’s like those highway signs that tell you how many miles until you’ve reached your destination. Even if they numbers keep decreasing you know you have lots of ground to cover. I’m not there yet.

Two key takeaways from this engaging talk:
6:10 “Because it’s true that having negative feelings about the work doesn’t affect the actual quality or value of the work.” Ummm, yeah.

15:30 “…all I had to go on is my own style of drawing and my own taste for what makes things funny or beautiful or interesting.” Ummm, yeah.

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