Recipes, Rules and Heretics

loki-400x340 Recipes, Rules and HereticsToday while walking my pal Loki I started thinking about recipes and how they differed from deeper and broader approaches to a problem. For many years I did a lot of baking from cookies to cakes to french Brioche and I remembered that I always new what I was going to make, if it was bread I knew whether I wanted whole wheat or oat bread. I would pull the recipe from my file review the ingredients and then begin. this is where most people would continue…following the recipe, addint the right amount of everything that was called for and setting the oven at the prescribed temp.

As I thought more about recipes I remembered the hours and even days I spent in darkrooms. The process of developing film and printing images also relies on recipes. The film needs to be developed with the chemicals at the prescribed temperature with each successive step. The same was true once the film was dry and ready to print. The process followed prescribed times and temperatures. Like baking, if the recipe was followed the outcome would be the same regardless of who was using the recipe.

The “what if?” question

For the non-curious, the fearful, following the recipe is what life is all about…not breaking the rules or even bending them. Now don’t for one minute think I am advocating wholesale lawlessness…what I am saying is that there is a difference between the person who approaches life as something to experience, an adventure and one who lives from fear of failure mostly. One is not better than the other and we all make our choices along the continuum, somewhere on the more risky side of that continuum innovation starts to happen.

Those on the innovation side are the restless, the curious, the discoverers and more often than not they are also outcasts because of their deviation from the norm…these are the heretics, the original thinkers, the ones who see the recipe as simply the starting point for many different and unpredictable outcomes. They can take the status quo and project it into the future and see not only the predictable outcome but also an almost infinite number of variations all based on asking “what if”. They know that “what if” could lead to a great succuss as well as it could lead to a major flop. The difference for them is they learn, they adapt and they have faith in their process, knowing that the drama of failure is just that…a drama.

“Just tell me what to do!”

bread Recipes, Rules and HereticsToday, many are looking for recipes especially given the current state of the world economy…we want a fix which is often code for “tell me what to do”, fix me but don’t ask me to learn to fix myself that is to scary what if I fail! The innovators know that the recipe is just the process which cannot work without knowing what the recipe is for, what the predictable outcome might be. If you want bread you get a bread recipe not a cookie one, and if you want a specific kind of bread a specific kind of recipe is needed…but for the innovator the excitement has just begun. The non-innovator will settle for the predictable. For the innovator the vision must come first so that the recipe can be adapted to changes in conditions, the room is colder than usual which means that the yeast will rise slowly if ever, a few pinches of sugar, a warm damp cloth will help the yeast rise.

Look inside…

If you are concerned as an artist about how to be successful in the face the challenges and uncertainties we are seeing everyday, if you are wondering how you can harness the coming changes…then don’t look for recipes first. Look inside yourself, rediscover your vision, revitalize your voice and rediscover what you really want to do. Once you have rediscovered your voice and owned it, also realize that your voice may change with time and you are in control of what if at all that change will look like. Only after you have the clarity of your vision tacked up on your studio wall should start to look at recipes. Your clarity and faith in your voice will lead you to select the recipe or recipes that can serve as your starting point.

Finally, because artists (most seem to at least) routinely challenge the status quo, mixing up their own adaptations of recipes they are well suited to lead because “what if?” is a question always present. That is why I have not discussed recipes. In order for the recipes to succeed we need to know where we are and where we want to be.

So what is your vision? Do you know with Chrystal clarity where you are and where you want to be? Does your voice reflect that? So here is something to help you get there…

Be a time traveler

Pick up whatever you use best to record your thoughts and go to a quiet place, take a few cleansing breaths,close your eyes and put yourself 2 years into the future. Look around as if you are there right now, this second! Don’t put any limitations on it and don’t look at as something you will do in the future…you are there right now so describe it…

  • What do you see?
  • What are you doing?
  • Who are you with?
  • What did you do to get yourself there?
  • What is important to you? What do you value?
  • Who are your friends? What is important to them?
  • How are you making a living? What is like to work in the enviroment you are in?

Feel free to post your vision as a comment and if you don’t want to share it let me know and I won’t publicize it. If you would like some help feel free to contact me by e-mail.

I am looking forward to hearing from you…tell me about your future. Use the Comment button at the very bottom of this article (below everything else) to post your vision.

Please join the conversation – Leave a comment.


  1. says:

    Recipes, Rules and Heretics |…

    Part of Bill Weaver’s ongoing discussion of how artists should change the way we market ourselves….