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Maira Kalman: All Great Ideas Start With An Empty Brain

Kalman’s latest book is “Beloved Dog” (http://goo.gl/R6KU9E).

Read more at BigThink.com: http://bigthink.com/videos/maira-kalman-on-finding-your-voice

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Transcript – I can’t believe that we all are alive and we all know that we’re going to die and yet we go on doing what we’re doing in the what might seem to be a completely meaningless exercise this living thing. So it affects me because I am understanding that I’m in a state of temporary – it’s temporary. So what do you do in this temporary time? You try to do what’s really meaningful to you. You’re not always successful of course because sometimes you don’t know what’s really meaningful and it’s something that unfolds. And it’s something that changes all the time anyway by the way with experience and with age. So, you know, we’re all screwed. We really are. I always knew that I wanted to do something in this world that would create a job for me that was a narrative of my life. And I thought it would be in writing but then I became quite disenchanted with my writing and I thought wouldn’t it be great and easier to draw. So I started to draw and then it took me some years to realize that I could draw and paint and that was called books. And then, you know, the thing about finding your voice is that it should change. It should keep changing and you should keep finding a new voice. Not something that’s completely alien but something that makes you feel as if you’re exploring a different part of yourself. So I’m still looking.

I take a lot of walks and that gives me a great sense of joy and a great sense of cleansing my brain and having an empty brain which I talk about a lot as being a terrific thing to have. In the sense the state of not knowing and the state of just absorbing information so I walk and that gives me a million ideas and a million visuals also and I’m photographing and I’m sketching. And I think also I read a great deal and that inspires me and I look at art. I go to museums. So between looking at trees and looking at art and looking at people and what they’re wearing and looking at dogs and chairs and buildings – well I could go on but looking is a good thing to do. The only rule if you’re going to follow a rule in my life – how it’s worked for my life is that follow your instinct. I don’t think there’s anything else that I could say that means anything because I don’t think I’ve learned anything other than follow your instinct and persevere which I think is a good thing for anybody. So persevere and don’t give up. If you don’t want to give up, don’t give up.

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