Monday, July 27, 2015

Scenius: or creativity ricochets.


Nope, I didn't misspell that. Its part "scene" and part "genius". Its a unique description of a healthy art sharing/viewing/inspiring/creating environment. Its something we have here at AJE.

In a recent post Jennifer reviewed "Steal like and Artist" by Austin Kleon. His "Scenius" concept is explained in his follow up book - Show your Work.

.."scenius"... Under this model, great ideas are often birthed by a group of creative individuals - artists, curators, thinkers, theorists, and other tastemakers - who make up an "ecology of talent". If you look back closely at history, many of the people who we think of as "lone genius" were actually part of a "whole scene of people who were supporting each other, looking at each other's work, copying from each other, stealing ideas and contributing ideas." Scenius doesn't take away from the achievements of those great individuals; it just acknowledges that good work isn't created in a vacuum, and that creativity is always, in some sense, a collaboration, the result of a mind connected to other minds.
What I love about the ideas of Scenius is that it makes room in the story of creativity for the rest of us: the people who don't consider ourselves geniuses. Being a valuable part of a Scenius is not necessarily about how smart or talented you are, but what you have to contribute - the ideas you share, the quality of the connections you make, and the conversations you start...."( A. Kleon from Show your work)

Here are a few Scenius examples from the team: 

Lesley (and Diana & Linda) took my mixed media amulet class at Bead Fest last August. Combining a polymer base with a metal tab setting - its a combination of techniques that isn't new, but creates new connections. Lesley found it inspiring, and goes into details in her Mixed Media Mojo post. And Melissa gave it a try as well... I wonder if that piece ever was finished? (I do hope to have a tutorial available soon... ) While this example does involve a classroom setting - my love of tab setting was inspired by Melissa Manley, my friend and uber talented metalsmith. So - you see? Nothing is created in a vacuum! Ideas grow and evolve...
1. Jenny's class sample. 2. Melissa's WIP. 3. Lesley's variations on a theme. 

This past April, Caroline wrote a gorgeous post regarding her current inspiration form the Far East. Rebekah was inspired by these carved beads to create a frame of sorts to showcase her polymer heart bead. (The April COM in fact.) She said her process went like this: " I want to frame the heart focal... trees! Carve trees? ... Caroline trees!... hmm. birds in trees... carve a new stamp..." You can see the fab results below in her carved wood thrush "frame" titled Forest Song.
1-3 Caroline's carved porcelain beads, netsuke inspired. 4&5. Rebekah's carved frame featuring her wood thrush carving. 

The team does love animals. From Karen's Bear totem pieces, and my Mythic Nature series... and you have seen the hares form the AJE themed challenge in March! The themed challenge, in my opinion, reinforces the Scenius concept. Lets share inspiration, references, techniques. We each came up with pieces that exemplified our own styles. There isn't any over sensitive fussing about ideas "stolen" - a hare is a hare is a hare! If they are well sculpted, and recognizable there will be similar elements.

Here are 2 animal pairings. Caroline's bronze head made me want to "up my game" in porcelain. Lesely's sculpture from a pottery class inspired Diana's bead!
1. Caroline - bronze hare 2. Jenny - porcelain hare 3. Diana - porcelain hedgehog 4. Lesley - hedgehog sculpture. 

There are numerous examples here and on the blog of our "mind(s) connected to other minds" but from my point of view I continue to see Caroline and I bumping heads creatively! (All in a good way!) Her post on the hollow lentil shrine beads blew me away... and I was working on my own shrine beads in polymer at the time. (I'm still finessing ideas. Maybe a class at a future Bead Fest? ) In true "Scenius" fashion the peyote surround on the hare shrine pendant was inspired by seed beads used in a similar fashion by the incredible Gina Dunlap.
1-3. Caroline's sketch and 2 hollow lentil shrine beads  4&5. Jenny's polymer shrine bead prototypes. 

Caroline's silhouettes are screen printed from her original drawings. They are delicate and ethereal, but also bold and strong... They turned me back to revisit my animal silhouettes... still a WIP, coming soon.
top: screen printed beads and vocals by Caroline. bottom: copper silhouettes for MM pendants on Jenny's workbench. 
I think "Scenius" is a great way to describe the creative community at large. We are artists, designers, creators. We are friends with other artists, designers, creators. We are constantly inspired and influenced by things we see, read, study, learn... and all of these influences trickle down into our selves... where the Muse draws upon them. A melting pot of ideas. I personally embrace this interconnectedness. I am confident, and comfortable in MY style, my work and know I can be influenced in a healthy, honest and ethical way by my peers.

Here's to wishing everyone finds their Scenius group in life, and let the creative ideas ricochet!


  1. I love this whole post Jenny! And I love how we are constantly inspiring each other. It's fantastic to be part of such a wonderfully talented group who can share and evolve ideas together!

    1. Caroline - sometimes I think we are creative cousins! I love being able to discuss themes and techniques with you!

    2. I think we might be! I look forward to the day when we can do it face to face 😀

  2. This is such a refreshing view of how as artists we inspire and stimulate each other and in so doing keep moving things's also a great antidote to creative block. Thanks for the post Jenny.

    1. Thanks Lesley - I tire so of the name calling and pettiness that can accompany some groups of colleagues. I am thrilled to be part of a team that shares ideas freely and openly encourages each other!

  3. A great post, and this is why I love reading AJE, and love getting together with like minded people.

    1. Thank you Jill - Way more fun than a vacuum isn't it!?

  4. Great post Jenny. I love how we bounce ideas off of one another in AJE. Its pwerful.

  5. Awesome post! Sharing ideas, processes, and inspirations can really catapult us forward as artists - there's a terrific energy to being part of a creative community that's willing to hold things a bit loosely and encourage one another!

  6. Great post Jenny! I miss the Riverbend Center here in Dayton and all the artists who spent time there when not teaching, just hanging out and talking and inspiring each other! I'm so glad for your group that you found a way to do this online.


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