Make something ugly


I read and listen to a lot about creativity. Blogs, magazines, t.v shows, podcasts. Making things weaves its way in and out of my day in one form or another.

One of the podcasts I’ve been listening to lately is Elise gets Crafty over here. There was one particular episode recently that had me thinking. Elise was talking to an author and fellow creative called Kim Werker (it’s episode 32 in the 2014 season.) I found their discussion and Kim’s concept of making something ugly a wonderful idea. You can’t fail. They say this in the episode – if you set out to make something ugly and you end up making something pretty it’s not a fail is it? Win win. Yay.

It’s all about how you set about the task at hand and the problem I have and I’m guessing I am not alone here, is the pressure I put on myself to make it right the first time.

Truth be told I have made plenty of ugly things along my creative lifetime. But most of the time I am afraid to try because I might make something terrible. So I don’t make anything.

I don’t start because I may fail.

And then if I do take a risk and try, but it doesn’t work out I’ll be less likely to try it again. That’s crazy. It is a very rare thing in this life that we get something new right the first time. So why should a creative ‘thing’ be any different? Why do we make different rules for our creative endeavor’s?

Here is a little story along similar lines.

In my quest to be creative at least once a week I tried to make this painting. I covered my canvas in black (I quite liked it just black….) and then left for a few days too terrified to put the white on. Well, when I did feel brave enough I splodged on the white and immediately hated it. I stared down at the mess I’d made and started erasing the image I’d tried to make by scraping the white all over the canvas so that I could use it for something else.

I abandoned the little canvas on my desk.


A few days later Gav was printing something, the printer is in my room. I was in there too trying to tidy it up a bit and I picked up the canvas to tuck it out of the way somewhere and he said ‘that’s really good by the way, probably the best thing you’ve done, bet you could sell that.’

Well I was a little shocked. He doesn’t often volunteer comments let alone compliments about my arty stuff. My immediate reaction was to laugh and ask if he was joking. I was shocked that he thought I’d made it intentionally. So instead of saying thanks and feeling proud and happy for the compliment I explained it was a cast off, a mistake, a work in progress. I can’t remember his reply, but I’m pretty sure he was reminding himself never, ever to comment on something I’d made again! Way to go Mel!

About  twenty-four hours later that I realised my error in not simply saying thanks and accepting his praise. Taste in art, and most things, is so personal. But I have reevaluated and I can accept that he likes the canvas so I should like it right? Even if I think it’s ugly.

Anyway, I have rambled on and on and forgotten what my original point was. So I’ll stop rambling because I have a canvas to hang!

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2 Responses to Make something ugly

  1. Mary-Lou says:

    This is a very deep topic – I need to think on this one. I know that I do not tackle many things for fear of not being perfect or good at it, looking stupid. I know that we don’t walk the first time we try, but we get up & try again – where did that belief in self go? UMMMMM

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