In his book - CREATIVITY, INC. - Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull presents an interesting analogy for today's empty corporate slogans.
"Imagine an old, heavy suitcase whose well-worn handles are hanging by a few threads. The handle is "Trust the Process" or "Story Is King"–a pithy statement that seems, on the face of it, to stand for so much more. The suitcase represents all that has gone into the formation of the phrase: the experience, the deep wisdom, the truths that emerge from struggle. Too often, we grab the handle and–without realizing it–walk off without the suitcase. What's more, we don't even think about what we've left behind. After all, the handle is so much easier to carry around than the suitcase."
At Book of Matches Media, we strive to remember the suitcase.
We do believe Story Is King, but we also believe in the power that can be injected into our stories when we embrace where we are–our struggles, our world views, our experiences.
We believe that the job of the artist is to take in the world around them, fragmented and varied as it may be, and process it through the filter of their own unique voice, making sense of it for not only themselves but, ideally, for others who may be touched by such a perspective.
You see, for us, story is all about voice and perspective.
In today's ravenous culture of "content" consumption and over-saturation, the artist is too often inundated with the "pithy statements" of what their work should be, or rather where the emphasis should be. We're buried in the worry of what will catch the audience's busy eyes, what will earn us that hard-to-come-by consumer dollar. So we try to go bigger, glom on to trends, yell louder, Tweet more, network more. We get too clever for our own good. We stop writing what's in our hearts and start selling what's left of our souls.
We're told again and again about the "hook", the "elevator pitch", the "logline", as if these things mattered in the grand scheme of a life-changing story; as if the transformational work we long to do can be effectively boiled down to one or two easily digestible sentences.
Yes, you should want people to see, and hopefully pay for, your work. We certainly do. Everyone from Steve Jobs to Andy Warhol to Jim Henson (see right) understood that in order to be a successful creator, art and commerce must mix. The problem comes when we place the latter before the former.
Look, anyone can come up with an catchy idea and figure out a way to sell it.
But for the true artist, it takes years of dedication to develop the voice and craft with which to change the world.
For us, this idea is more than just a mission statement; this is the very blood of the culture we're trying to cultivate amongst the artists here at Book of Matches.
I have been shaken to my core by a story well-told.
I'm sure many of you have as well. And though I like a lot of different kinds of stories, the one thing I feel that connects those that resonate with me is (–and I'll say it again, because it's worth repeating–) voice and perspective.
I want to see the artist's soul laid bare on the canvas of their medium, even if on the surface the work seems inconsequential, or not important or not flashy or not "serious" or not "cool enough". A work of art should be as close to a fingerprint as possible; an identifier of the person or persons behind it. It's that singularity, when combined with natural talent and a hard-earned understanding of craft, that can make a piece of art something truly special.
Stories are (not) universal.
While certain elements can be found from story to story, aiming only to tell an audience a tale that is familiar to what we've seen before is simply not enough. To think that it is waters down art to its simplest common denominator. It lowers expectations and looks to provide easy answers and cheap thrills instead of offering thrilling encounters and emotional truths.
because emotion, after all, is what transcends.
So whether we're telling an outrageous story about a dude kidnapped by witches or a coming-of-age tale about a boy who travels through the walls of his home to a land imagined by someone else, what we're always seeking to share is emotional truth.
Story master Robert McKee has said that “in a world of lies and liars, an honest work of art is always an act of social responsibility.”
We wholeheartedly agree.
We hope our work–and not just our words–will reflect that.
Thank you so much stopping by.