Tuesday, September 29, 2015

12 Inspiring Books About The Creative Process

Based on some sound advice from copyranter, I picked up an advertising book called ‘When Advertising Tried Harder: The Sixties: The Golden Age of American Advertising’ by Lawrence Dobrow. The book is good. It highlights the exact moment when the ad agency as you know it today formed … a creative director, a copywriter and an art director working in unison to create great ideas in both form and function that answers to the goddamn brief (most of the time).

The book inspired me! My next idea (which I cannot share right now due to legal mumbo jumbo) pushed the creative bar. Working with a talented team of writers and designers, we pulled off the impossible, and put together a half-decent ad concept, which spawned an entire look and feel for the website, printed collaterals, emails, and banner ads. Yay!

I wanted to pay it forward by sharing 12 books that have catapulted my occipital cortex to creative greatness; 12 books that talk about the turmoil, the struggle, and the internal strife that affects every creative person. The creative process. The damned, gut-wrenching, glorious creative process.

Whether you’re a writer, actor, designer, painter, Lego builder, cartoonist, bartender, or even a garbage man—I'm certain you'll get some tiny creative nuggets from each of these books that will inspire, or reaffirm, the way that you approach a new creative concept. (Complete with links to Amazon.com.

King gets personal with some tidbits about his life, his drug addiction and his accident (which almost killed him)—complete with some nuggets about his creative process and how he hates when people use adverbs.
Through these essays, Bradbury weaves little tidbits of his personal life combined with diligent practices that he used to transformed himself into one of the best short storytellers in the biz.

You know what I hate? Books written by successful businessmen that talk about their successes and never about their failures. Catmull, one of the founders of Pixar and the current President of Pixar animation and Walt Disney Animation Studios, does the exact opposite. This book is filled with failures, mistakes, blunders and the like that happened to Pixar.

Many of you millennials may not know William Goldman. At the time, he was the hottest screenwriter in Hollywood as well as a respected and published author. Here, check out his Wikipedia entry if you don’t believe me. In any event, Goldman talks about the industry, his process, his successes and, more importantly, his failures. He even shows you how he goes about adapting his own short story into a screenplay. If you like this, then you should also check out his follow-up, Which Lie Did I Tell? MoreAdventures In the Screen Trade.

I read this book about 16 years ago and it still resonates with me to this day. Corman talks about his creative process and his go-for-broke film-making style. He’s like a film-making MacGyver, figuring out how to use all the pieces and parts of his films to make money--with great back stories about his films.

You may not think you’re going to get anything out of this book, but you will. Creatively, Stern pushed the bar in his industry so much that he had to invent the rules in order to break them. Lots of good stuff here that will motivate you to shoot for the moon - and hopefully land among the stars.

Callahan became a quadriplegic after an auto accident when he was 21. After that, he transformed his angst into cartoon form – with extremely controversial results. Personally, I thought they were funny. But, a lot of people didn't share my same feelings. This memoir that talks about how he vanquished his inhibitions and just drew whatever morbid muse sparked his fancy.

Chuck has an ego, but that’s okay. He also has a bit of a chip on his shoulder. Again, okay. After you read this memoir, you’ll understand a bit more about this ultra-creative man who dreamed up most of the Looney Tunes characters you’ve grown to love. There are tons and tons of entertaining stories on his successes, failures and battles with the powers that be - not to mention basic office life at Warner Brothers studios. Highly recommended.

This is a blow-by-blow history of Mad Magazine including stories from the usual gang of idiots who contributed to the inspirational, best-selling magazine of my youth. Great stories about editor Harvey Kurtzman and eccentric publisher William Gaines (who also created the oft-repeated, never duplicated Tales from the Crypt series).

Just some great inside stories from the cast, crew, directors, guest stars and writers. In addition to the history of the show, you get a first-person account (from the creative people themselves) on the entire creative process, how skits are written,  how they're chosen and, finally, how they’re performed, etc - with backstories galore. Sadly, Eddie Murphy refused to be interviewed for the book (asshole).

Just an inspirational story about how a budding filmmaker made his own path and put together some dough to make a small movie for a small Mexican market and how it just exploded. Rodriguez goes through everything here from how he sold his body to medicine for production money, to his screenwriting process, all the way to filming and post-production – and finally instant success. It’s a road with a lot of bombs, failures and potholes, which I love to read about.

If you're a fan of STAR WARS, or a fan of the film-making process, you'll love this book. It's a long book with very small text. But it kept my enthralled from beginning to end. Great behind the scenes pics and inside scoops on the heartbreak, the triumph and the creativity that was poured into this film. This is the definitive book on one of the most important movies of all time. Highly recommended.

So, now it's your turn. Do you have any recommendations that aren't on this list?

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