Ep. 2 - Me and the Fabulous Tim Toady


Welcome to the second episode of my podcast! In this podcast I explore the principle of There's More Than One Way To Do It, and how that helps me get around creative block.

-Thomas Beutel

Music Credit: 

Reflection Flow by Doxent Zsigmond (c) copyright 2018 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) license. http://dig.ccmixter.org/files/doxent/58328 Ft: Javolenus, Rocavaco, Siobhan Dakay

Books mentioned in this episode:

Crash Test Girl, by Kari Byron

Utopia Parkway: The Life and Work of Joseph Cornell, by Deborah Solomon

The above are affiliate links.



Creative Shoofly Podcast, episode number two,

Me and the Fabulous Tim Toady

Hello, and welcome to the creative shoofly podcast. I'm Thomas Beutel. This podcast is about my creative process and one thing I've found is that I really get in my way a lot when it comes to making art and being creative. I want to do this podcast because I know it will force me to think more deeply about creativity. I'm hoping that doing this will push me and challenge me to create better art.

Waxing and Waning Energy [00:00:39]

One thing I noticed as time goes on is how my creativity waxes and wanes. I have these ups and downs that I go through. Sometimes I'm full of creative energy and other times there's just no spark whatsoever. I wonder about this. I'm kind of driven in a way. and I know sometimes that drive is at cross purposes with, a certain amount of relaxation and calm and presence and patience that creativity really requires.

In this past week, I found myself on the waning end of energy and there's a lot of reasons for that. One is all the work that I did to produce the first episode of this podcast, was a challenging experience. I also have had plenty of client work, so by the time the end of the day rolls around, my brain is just tired. It's all used up.

I find when I get into these lower energy States that it's easier for me to come up with reasons. Why I can't just sit down and work on something. I have all these voices in my head that say, “I don't have the materials to do what I want, or I don't have the tools or I don't have the knowledge. I don't have the time.”

I think it's just a way of my mind not wanting to work too hard. I don't want to figure out how to do stuff. I find excuses of why I can't start a project.

Tim Toady (TMTOWTDI) [00:02:15]

I've been thinking about the different tools that I can use to get out of my own way, to help me get unstuck. And there's a number of tools that I borrowed from the practice of computer programming.

And this one comes specifically from the Perl programming language. It's a programming acronym and it's pronounced Tim toady, but the actual letters are TMTOWTDI, and it stands for, There's More Than One Way To Do It.

Perl is a very expressive language and I used it for many years. I really liked using it. Perl, was created by Larry Wall, who is an amazing computer scientist and also a linguist. And that has a lot to do with how he designed the language.

This idea of There's More Than One Way To Do It is a little bit controversial. Perl is extremely flexible and that can sometimes lead to programming that is somewhat incomprehensible. One of the practices and in computer programming is to make your code maintainable. So the ability to express yourself in so many different ways is not necessarily a good thing for maintaining a computer program.

On the other hand, for the purposes of creativity, I think it's a really useful principle.

Making Drawers [00:03:49]

I did some more thinking about Tim Toady, about There's More Than One Way To Do It. And it can encompass all aspects of creativity.

One aspect is the tools you use. Certainly in painting and drawing, you can use different pens, fountain pens, different inks, watercolor pencils, crayons, oil paints, acrylics. There are many, many different ways to approach a painting, for instance.

When it comes to making something that's three-dimensional, oftentimes what I find is that I don't necessarily have the exact tool that I need, but again, There's More Than One Way To Do It.

An example of that is I needed to build some drawers for holding freight cars on my model railroad.

One thing that you need to do when you're building drawers is to have good straight edges. Normally the way you do that is you have a table saw. Well, I don't have a table saw and I don't have room for table saw, but I did have a Skilsaw power saw. So I built myself a jig and the jig basically helped me cut very straight edges.

And I was able to put together a set of six drawers that fit perfectly in the space that I had available. They pull out and push in really smoothly.

There's another example of There's More Than One Way To Do It. I love building jigs. It's another aspect of creativity, isn't it? It's like I need to build something. I need to build something to build something. I love it.

In terms of my model railroad, there's definitely so many different materials that I can use and I have used so many different things. I've used paper maché. I've used paper clay, I've used real clay. I've used plaster a lot. Of course, wood, paper, cardboard.

One of the bridges that I'm building as this large steel arch bridge with what looks like I-beams and whatnot, and I've been building it all out of paper and cardboard.

It'll be painted silver, so it'll look like a steel bridge, but in actuality it's just a façade. The actual part of the bridge that carries the track is the structural piece and the arch itself is just decoration.

Crash Test Girl [00:06:13]

Another example of Tim toady is something called kitbashing.

In model railroading, we do a lot of kitbashing. The idea is to take a kit or several kits and then use the pieces in a new and different way, for instance I've kitbashed several buildings, by not following the directions, but actually taking the walls and cutting them apart and then recombining them in different ways.

Artist and author Kari Byron talks about this in her book Crash Test Girl, she says, "We appropriated the model maker concept of kitbashing to create our prototypes. This is one of my favorite tricks I learned from working in Jamie's shop. It's the process of taking a store, bought models and kits or using random objects to create a new custom project. You can pull apart a model train and some plumbing parts, take some copper cables and a tire tread and kit bash them together to build a robot. As an artist, I thought could bashing was the perfect expression of creativity and doing it alongside a bunch of guys who worked in the industry for so long was like a dream come to life." End quote

Kitbashing is another example of There's More Than One Way To Do It because if there's something specific that you want to build and it's not available as a kit, you don't have to create it from scratch. You can take existing pieces and put them together. 

One of the plans I have for my model railroad is to build a small model of the San Francisco ferry building. And I already have collected four kits to represent the various parts of the building.

Joseph Cornell [00:08:03]

I recently finished a biography of Joseph Cornell, and I think he was an amazing artist, and one of the reasons that I was so interested in reading about him is he created collages and also box assemblages. It's the assemblages that interested me the most, where he would create a box and then place items and in a certain way to express an idea or to elaborate on on an interest that he had.

So for a while now, I've been thinking about making my own assemblages. I have a few ideas of what I want to make. I've been feeling actually quite stuck. I've started a couple and then abandoned them and I've had another idea in mind and I've never started that one. But you know how certain ideas stay with you and in some way or fashion, they're begging you to make them.

Part of my morning practice is to invite inspiration and imagine new ideas. This particular morning I was thinking about this idea of There's More Than One Way To Do It. I was thinking of Tim toady and it occurred to me that I could build this assemblage fairly easily and fairly quickly using cardboard.

The idea is this is not intended to be the final artwork, but sort of a study just as you do with paintings, you'll often do a sketch or a study before you do the final painting to get the values down and things like that.

And I was thinking, boy, cardboard is just a wonderful material. It cuts easy. There's lots of it. I've never run out of cardboard. There's always new Amazon boxes or cereal boxes. Cardboard is almost an unlimited resource.

So that's how I decided to build my first assemblage in miniature form using cardboard and paper and little bits of wire and things like that. And I had a blast. I really enjoyed it.

I was able to finish it in just about an hour. I'm really happy with the way it turned out. That it was a quick study. I do plan to make it sometime this year. That's now a goal, but now that I can see it, it's easier to envision the final product..

Conclusion [00:10:37]

By using the principle of, There's More Than One Way To Do It, I can find ways to make things quicker and simpler and using easy materials.

So Tim Toady shows up for me a lot in the art that I do and the things that I create.

And it's one that I'm glad that I was reminded of. I now know that as I approach things and I have ideas, I don't necessarily need to struggle to figure out the final idea right away, or how to make something or how to get time to make something.

So that's all I have for Tim toady. I really want to thank you for taking the time to listen to my podcast. I hope that you are able to take something from what I talk about today and use it in your creative works.

If you have any suggestions or any feedback, I would greatly appreciate it. You can contact me at Thomas at creativeshoofly.com I look forward to hearing from you.

Stay safe and be well and put your creativity out in the world.

- Thomas



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