Mighty Ugly is an exploration of the dark side of creativity and it’s a battle against our creative demons, and it’s an acceptance and even celebration that the exploring and the battling will go on forever. Fear of failure, creative block, perfectionism, procrastination, self-doubt: these are the things we must stare down, get to know, and accept so we can stop feeling so crappy and start having fun making stuff. Whether for fun or for profit, getting in touch with our creative insides is a very good thing to do, whether we think we’re creative or not (you are, whatever).
Mighty Ugly is about making ugly things on purpose, because we usually go to great lengths to avoid doing that. Just like we avoid thinking about our fears and discomforts. Just like we avoid making stuff at all.
By starting with ugly – with failure, with struggle, with discomfort – we realize it’s not the end of the world. We pay different – better? – attention to how we think and feel when we make stuff. We learn about what we like and what we find beautiful. And we arm ourselves with the strength that comes with having stared down our greatest creative fears and come out the other side intact and alive.
I offer workshops, write and speak about his, and think everyone can benefit from staring down ugly instead of pretending it doesn’t exist. (Right. I’m Kim Werker. I probably should have said that from the beginning.)
Make It Mighty Ugly is due out in September 2014. Check back here for more info about the book, and for nifty things like a book-group guide, info for librarians, and many, many links to fabulous resources.
Here’s how the whole thing came to be:
Back in the summer of 2006 my friend Ian had a crafty birthday party. He filled his apartment with materials and tools and punch, and people made stuff. And there were snacks.
In a pile of scraps, I found some spectacularly ugly upholstery fabric and just had to make a doll with it.
I’d never sewn a doll before. In fact, I had rarely sewed, ever.
So since the fabric was so ugly, I just set out to make an ugly doll. I figured if I tried to make it ugly, it wouldn’t matter if I screwed it up – my awful seams would be a design feature.
It was the most fun I’ve ever had crafting. There was no pressure!
And so for years, I’ve had ugly sitting at the back of my mind. I’ve written about it a little, but it wasn’t until recently that I was struck with the idea for this challenge.
Because sometimes it’s important to just say SCREW IT.
It’s not okay to say SCREW IT to your taxes or your rent or your job or your family, though.
So take an hour or two and say SCREW IT to trying to make something pretty. Go out of your way to create something hideous.