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Q&A 2020-04-28

Tom Sachs. (office-hours)

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Tom Sachs hosts a question and answer session on Instagram live from his basement workshop.



“Uh, I know that I'm doing it right when, um, I feel. Um? You know? Sort of bad that I let something go that I traded money, which is so dirty compared to the love that I put into something that's really what's what's key.”
“You should always let your best work go so it's out there communicating for you. That's the best way to share your message. It's like essential.”
“Max you will never get over the fear. Fear is here to stay. It's not going away. The secret to getting over fear is be afraid and do it anyway.”
“Louis Armstrong invented the idea of playing a song. That you'd already heard and then, um, leaving out a couple of notes so that your mind could connect you with the music and that helped draw you in and make it feel like it was part of your own mind.”
“Never make it that you can ever see the light bulb. Always have a light bulb in some kind of enclosure that blocks the source.”


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00:01:23 Tom Sachs: Welcome back to office hours. Great see all. Thanks for coming in and thanks for your questions. I wanted to um remind you before I take out my magic keyboard and show you what I got for you today on the iPad. That the best way to communicate with me is by sending your questions in here. Just type them on the screen and. Let’s get the conversation going and also the best way to share what you’re doing is by posting it in your stories and Hashtagging tomsachsisru. And we will review those. I will not review, DM’s do not DM me. Alright, so welcome back to the shop, ladies and gentlemen. Can you see that?

00:02:22 Tom Sachs: Boom

00:02:30 Tom Sachs: Play.

00:02:34 Tom Sachs: Next

00:02:37 Tom Sachs: So here are some questions and again, this is really all about. Thinking not so much, the details about how to make stuff, we’ll get to that, but I’m going to start. I’ve been out of the game for the past few weeks, but keen to join ISRU, where to start? And this is from Stuart I McKenzie. Start start here. Start now. Go back and look at a week one. Uh, or start anywhere but just start. Don’t worry, there’s no judgment, just go and do it.

00:03:12 Tom Sachs: Um? Alright, am I getting this right? Yeah.

00:03:20 Tom Sachs: And then I also want to jump to this, this one this question. This is my favorite question of the week from James Russo to having a difficult time participating in ISRU due to an essential job. Machinist. Advice?

00:03:35 Tom Sachs: James, or if you’re not tuning in, James friends of James Um, please ask James to just do what you’re doing. Do what you do best. Thank you for doing your essential job. We all really appreciate it. This is a tough time. We all gotta do what we gotta do. Do not worry about this. This is an elective but my assignment to you is um, if you are in an essential job, there is no doubt that there was something that of your normal version of your essential job that has been affected by this shortage of material. Some techniques, speed, time, limited resources, triage, whatever. Please take a picture of it and and post it or a story it or whatever and hashtag ISRU so that we can sort of share your so you can share your experience of how being in situation whatever your job is, whether that’s artists or EMT or whatever it is. Machinist in your case. Um is impacted by this because we’re on the same situation. Just some of our jobs are more essential than others. Not that being art maker isn’t essential, but it’s, you know, in the hierarchy of needs. It’s nowhere near other things like a doctor.

00:04:52 Tom Sachs: Alright.

00:04:56 Tom Sachs: From Max Nerd, this is my favorite question. Also. How can you sell something that’s so personal as your art? Oh fuck you know what I forgot? I’m sorry guys. I forgot to get Erum On um On a. On Zoom on um. Blue jeans, so I’m just gonna go join. Join meeting of an event, but it’s not. It’s not doing it. Shit this is happened to me last week. So this is going to take me a second. Maybe I’m going to zoom. Well that go? Join. Now. Um, just give me a sec, guys. This is really important. Um? Today is. So I’m going to our zoom page so maybe Erum join me in that. Meeting OK so that we can always have everyone in on this call. Join with video. OK. Using Internet audio. OK, so someone will come and join that.

00:06:22 Tom Sachs: So how can you sell something that’s so personalized as your art? I think that the only way. Is for you too. Um, sell something that’s as personal as your your art. Uh, I know that I’m doing it right when, um, I feel. Um? You know? Sort of bad that I let something go that I traded money, which is so dirty compared to the love that I put into something that’s really what’s what’s key. In a sense, you have a friend who’s a great artist, but he once said to me, hey. Mute please. Until you write a target. Serena and Erum. He said, hey, I made this art but I’m going to keep the good one and make a shitty version and sell that. But I thought that was a huge mistake. You should always let your best work go so it’s out there communicating for you. That’s the best way to share your message. It’s like essential. If that’s not clear I can dig into it more, but I’m just getting warmed up.

00:07:31 Tom Sachs: Other way?

00:07:34 Tom Sachs: How do I get over fear? Max One I U guess what? Max you will never get over the fear. Fear is here to stay. It’s not going away. The secret to getting over fear is be afraid and do it anyway. Those who say they’re not afraid are lying. We are all afraid. Could you imagine being in a beautiful warm womb where everything was taken care of for you? You don’t have to feed yourself or even breathe because your host mother did that for you. And then you were ripped out of this womb and Into an operating room with doctors and lights, and even maybe your Mother’s breast, but that’s nothing compared to being inside the womb. Life is fear. Life is a game in managing your fear. You will be afraid as you dig in and master your surroundings. There are new challenges and they will scare you. Be afraid and do it anyway.

00:08:32 Tom Sachs: My favorite way to make money. What’s your favorite way to make money from the real Joe True? Truesdale. Best and only way to make money is by doing what you love. And if you have a job where you are cleaning toilets for a living. Love cleaning those toilets. Another question from someone later on in the stack is what if the work that’s ahead of me isn’t to my liking? Like cleaning toilets. Make it your liking. ‘cause it’s the work that’s ahead of you or don’t do it. But if you’re doing it and it’s and it’s in front of you, it’s yours and you own it.

00:09:07 Tom Sachs: And, uh. And you can make it yours, even if you’re cleaning someone elses toilet. Just make that thing shine be the Bruce Lee of toilet cleaning. That’s the best way to make money and it’s the same in art. I know that’s not the question you’re asking, but that’s the question that’s the answer you’re getting.

00:09:26 Tom Sachs: Other way? What the?

00:09:33 Tom Sachs: Yeah, I answered that from Griffin is garbage. Embrace it, Griffin. Or do something else. There is no try. There is only do or do not. By the way, do not is OK.

00:09:47 Tom Sachs: Oh from. Hollywood 99 with nines instead of OWS who has the power in the art world, the artist, The collectors or the gallery’s?

00:09:58 Tom Sachs: Obviously the artists are the only ones that have power. Even the most powerful art dealer is forgotten when he is gone. Kahnweiler, ever heard of him? Picaso’s dealer. Um? I haven’t. I think I’ve spelt his name wrong. Um, the artists, obviously. You have the power. I’m not saying those other people aren’t important, but the most important thing the generator, and is the art. Regardless of all the social trappings and the disrespect and the pain and the struggle and the ass kissing and the job of bringing your art to the world. Because when you’re an artist, you’ve got at least two jobs. Number one is doing your job. Number 2, which is equally important, is bringing your job to the world. Communication, sharing.

00:10:51 Tom Sachs: What advice would you give to a 17 year old wanting to pursue footwear design? from will_gates_II.

00:11:01 Tom Sachs: Um? Specialize study medicine, study foot anatomy, study engineering and plastic. Whatever you’re doing something as narrow as footwear design. That’s cool that you want to make shoes. There’s a lot of other stuff into making shoes and it starts with the feet. So study feet.

00:11:22 Tom Sachs: Fuck.

00:11:25 Tom Sachs: Ah, list five books, please found only from the feed from. GQ BAE at GQ bit alright favorite? And then there’s so many but these are the five essential reading of the studio. 00:11:41 Tom Sachs: Number one um endurance, and this is Alfred Lansing’s endurance from the story of Ernest Shackleton’s unsuccessful trans-Antarctic expedition that happened around the time of World War One. Must read is required. All these are required reading for the studio, everyone in the studio has read these books, right? Serena Smith. You’ve read every one of these books. She’s nodding, asking..

00:12:12 Serena Smith: 100% yup.

00:12:13 Tom Sachs: OK great. The philosophy of Andy Warhol. Classic. It’s kind of, I think, in a lot of ways the the um instruction manual to life in New York City. You don’t need to live in New York City, but it’s. It’s the best. Seeing is forgetting the name of the thing that one sees by Lawrence Weschler. Um?

00:12:41 Tom Sachs: Hey babe, can you close the door please? Thank you.

00:12:43 Tom Sachs: Um, if you can just understand that title. Seeing. Really seeing something means forgetting the name of the thing that one sees. You don’t need to read the book, but this is the best book about it. It’s written by my friend Lawrence Weschler about a great artist named Robert Irwin who’s like, you know, he’s the guy in light and space. If you’re maybe you’ve heard of James Tyrrell, this is kind of the man behind the man James Tyrrell Great artist Robert Irwin. Is in a way comes a little bit before what he was doing. An is in the same family of of exploration and art and it starts out with talking bout him gambling on horses as a professional horse gambler and it shows how he turned his life into being a professional light and space artist, meaning studying space. And we can talk about that in another office hours about space, light and space, so seeing Is forgetting the name of the thing that one sees.

00:13:47 Tom Sachs: McMaster Carr catalog. Any addition. Just get it. Read it in particular the abouts the little Gray highlighted areas called about Springs or about screws.

00:14:03 Tom Sachs: The autobiography of Malcolm X is told to Alex Haley is the book about personal transformation. There is no better book that I found. This is the book that I give away most and is probably the most important book in the studio because art, like many other things, is about personal transformation. An I’m really not interested when hiring. people in the studio. How good your skills are. I’m really interested in your attitude. Attitude is everything and there are so many great moments in this book but. This is the story of a man who transformed himself three or four times, depending on how you look at it, and each time towards Greater good. We could almost have like a Malcolm X session, but let’s keep going. Just read this one. That’s I’d say the first one.

00:15:03 Tom Sachs: What’s the worst advice you’ve ever was the worst from? Sorry at Joey dot Hammers? What’s the worst advice you’ve received? Trust me.

00:15:16 Tom Sachs: From at_banjir. How do you save time and money? You don’t, you steal them.

00:15:25 Tom Sachs: How from at 1996 books, how will you be burned? Viking funeral style.

00:15:34 Tom Sachs: OK Oh, this is great. From an A couple of questions here from at lobster_butter_laboratory. Can you point us to further reading on the idea that you mentioned in office hours that the Avant garde has only as a tolerance for incremental innovation, right? This is a tough one. The Avantgarde only has a tolerance for incremental innovation and what that means is if you have a new idea. It’s very difficult if it’s a. If it’s a truly new idea to lay it down where people can take it, Arthur Clark said any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, but what what this is about this? This idea is that if you’re if you’re arts too radical. You’re not good at communicating it. It might not be understood like the the most cliched examples, Vincent van Gogh, who was so far out and such a shit communicator that he. His art wasn’t understood and appreciated, and then whatever a few generations later, it’s the most valuable art ever made, or something crazy like that. The other side of that is if your art is too. If someone’s already done it before, no one’s gonna care because. We’ve done it before, so I think the. The strategy the work around for dealing with this paradox is that there are. Two modes in which you could look at making art which is there is a new idea, and then there’s a new way of expressing that idea and some for some artists just the new way of expressing the idea, the language it’s in itself is the art. And then for other artists. Uh, even old language, but a new way of communicating so very few artists can do both successfully simultaneously. I think that’s why I love Louis Armstrong because he sort of did both the technical virtuosity and new ideas. He, for many reasons, but let’s just pick one like Louis Armstrong invented the idea of playing a song. That you’d already heard and then, um, leaving out a couple of notes so that your mind could connect you with the music and that helped draw you in and make it feel like it was part of your own mind. That was an invention or the idea of the solo, a song that would happen and then the trumpeter would break away and play a solo part and then bring it back to the rest of the song. And then at the same time he was using the the regular notes scale that we all use. So he was using regular instruments and regular sounds that were familiar based on like his mentor King Oliver, who he’s band he played with. But then he just kind of did his own version of it. So he built incrementally. So the secret to survival as an avantgarde artist or someone is pushing the the art form forward is to build on existing stuff and Increment and innovate incrementally so you build on the last last structure. That’s also why we say creativity is the enemy. ‘cause if you do too much creativity at once, it’s capricious and it becomes noise, and it’s hard to follow. And the audience is important. We do these things because we’re in a community and we all share together.

00:19:01 Tom Sachs: And also from lobster_butter_Laboratory Millennials and teamwork tips to stop frigging whining about everything and just work.

00:19:13 Tom Sachs: Well. Serena, what do you think about whining millennials? ‘cause ‘cause You You don’t. You don’t wine, you just work your an your millennial.

00:19:26 Serena Smith: Yeah, I mean, I don’t think that all Millennials are, well, technically. I’m kind of Gen Z, but beside the point, I think it just depends on your upbringing. I think not all boomers are like typical boomers. You know, it’s like you can group people into that category, but I think it just depends how you were raised in the individual values that you have. I don’t think. Grouping people like that is fair.

00:19:52 Tom Sachs: OK so I I like your answer Serena and what I was gonna say Lobster_butter_laboratory is surround yourself with the good millennials. Like the ones that that work hard. And you know whether their upbringing or whatever you know they’re all different ways of being successful in this life andyeah, you know, having having. Having people role models around you that taught you is one thing, but um, get. Ditched those whiners you know, give him, you know, give him a chance or two, but then get rid of him. Get some other Millennials. Don’t worry, there are plenty around.

00:20:28 Tom Sachs: Oh, great question from Trent K lassin. ISRU. Oh, by the way, ISRU just a little station identification means in situation resource utilization. For those of you just tuning in, that’s who we are and what we’re doing now we’re in this aituation with more limited resources than we usually have. How are we going to utilize those resources so? Man. Trent K Lassen has painted plywood and is ready to cut but he doesn’t have a table saw. What is the preferred alternative? It really doesn’t matter but I’m going to advocate if you’re building your tool shop, get a jigsaw and get it by a reputable brand. Get the most expensive one that you can afford, like Milwaukee or DeWalt or Bosch or Makita or something. It doesn’t matter which one. Just get a good one. Anayan, I like the cordless ones. If you can afford it but also by the way accord a corded one are just as good. They’re fine, they’re great. In fact, they’re they’re cheaper, so maybe if you’re limited budget, get a corded one, get the jigsaw right. It’s really all you need. A table saw is excessive. You can do everything with this. You really can. Don’t be afraid.

00:21:47 Tom Sachs: What were you doing at 24 and more more education or work? Um, Alright again there are there are there are no stupid questions, but here’s my stupid answer. It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, this is the point where I if I was really organized, I’d swipe and there would be a picture of Orson Welles at 24 who had just completed Citizen Kane. Some people think the best movie ever made. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing when it’s where you are and where you’re at, I think. Education is important, but it takes all different forms. I think it’s important if you’re in school to to finish whatever program you’re in. You know, get that high school degree at a college degree, get the Masters degree, finish it, but only to finish it like only to finish what you started. It’s not important. An another question that’s coming up is, you know it is important that people on the team be educated an I say Yeah, but there are all kinds of education, the. The prerequisite of working on the studio team is you’ve had to have you have to have worked in a in a restaurant kitchen as a waiter or or as a as a as a busboy or dishwasher or whatever, because that’s like a high stakes job and where everything that you do really really matters for the entire time, intensity and a lot of. It’s a team job, so yeah, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you work hard in school and that you work hard out of school.

00:23:21 Tom Sachs: Use Cardboard for my sculpture. Any idea of essential tool we could again do a whole office hours on essential tool, but I did do it. My favorite and I’m going to bring it over to show you. It’s not plugged in right now. But I think you’re crazy to Cardboard without a glue gun. And my one secret tip, which is essential for working with the glue gun is. Cup of water. If you cool your skin with water room temperature, water as fast as you burn it. You will not have a blister if you cool it as fast as you burn it. You will not have a blister and you will burn yourself with a glue gun. It will happen. So glue gun and a Sharp Olfa knife and a straightedge. Even a piece of wood. Whatever pencil, Sharpie, that’s all you need. That’s those are great tools and I I love the 3M Polygon. But you know it’s it’s a luxury. What matters is that you just is that you go you don’t cut your finger off. Don’t don’t cut your finger. Oh, and that was from fail’s goat fail ago stat fail a ghost is that Fela Kuti?

00:24:46 Tom Sachs: How do I know? Oh from at Danke 4 SS. How do I know in which path I should invest the rest of my lifetime? This is simple. Do what you love and really do it. Do whatever it takes to do that. Lie, cheat, steal, have a second job, whatever and the path will illuminate itself for you like a video game. It will be really easy, but doing what you love is can be hard. It’s simple, but it takes a lot of work, perseverance, dedication.

00:25:25 Tom Sachs: Where can I learn about proper lighting from at MM-3000? Under who from_from at_MM 3000_Where can I learn about proper lighting? Lighting, oh I made it so small I’ll just read it to you. OK, this is how you do lighting. There are three things that you need to know. Four things you need to know about letting number one. Never make it that you can ever see the light bulb. Always have a light bulb in some kind of enclosure that blocks the source. It’s called a lamp shade or a light shade. Don’t make it on an intense bulb that you can never see into it. You never want to blind anyone. It’s hard to do. But um, if you sometimes light lamp shades are translucent. Right? Like that’s a translucent light shade or this is another trans. It’s like a clip light with with a plastic bag wrapped over it. Or like that’s a professional diffuser, right? Make it that you can never see the source. That’s number 1 #2 is. That there is ah. Three types of lighting. OK, so. General lighting, which is illuminate the room. Task lighting, which is like a pin spot on a specific tool, you know the This Is A. This is a task light this little light this. That little light on that shows the pitch of the record player, that only illuminates the pitch indicator dots. So that’s good, but also. This is a task light. Right? So this just illuminates the blade which is a critical area when your cutting. An a third and it’s just as important as the first two is fill. Because you want to generally illuminate the room, and the task lighting and fill the space. So if you do those three things, those three general, task and fill. Um and of course make it so you never ever ever ever under punishment of death see the um the source of the light. Your lighting will be perfect. That’s all you need to know about lighting. These like a life time of information that you could have but that’s all you need to know.

00:27:57 Tom Sachs: Um. From @luka_vertiser on a project how do you make understood to non-creative team members? Well that’s a great question because it’s not just about your team. If you could mute Erum? Please. Umm. MUTE! Umm. It’s not just on your team, it’s when your communicating to others. One of the great survival skills, one of the abilities that I’ve figured out or that’s important to cultivate is um. Communicating your ideas. You can have the best idea but you can’t communicate it to anyone, um. You’re fucked. So that’s why we all learn the same language and where all really lucky because we speak the lingua franca of the of the world. English. So uh. Were spoiled and entitled and priveledged to speak this language natively. It’s also a curse cause it means that learning French is something that is, that is like a elite. Um. Luxury for us. But. Um. Speaking the same language is essential and I mean that not just these words that I’m saying but the visual language and um. And working hard to convey that is everything. Um and that’s not just to your team but to the people outside of your team.

00:29:25 Tom Sachs: From @sirpau. What’s up sirpau? Um. Ola and greetings to Barcelona. Um. Are the next space missions will be postponed? Hopefully not. Well just a little reminder the um Mission to rare earths is happening and it’s happening in September at Deichtorhallen in Hamburg. So ahh. Um. Well be there. Look forward to seeing you there sirpau.

00:30:03 Tom Sachs: We’re probably gonna wrap it up now. Um. I think. Are any last minute questions? Am I forgetting any important anouncements for next week? Children of men. That’s a good movie for right now from @michael_reed.

00:30:25 Erum: I think you’ve got em all. Remind everyone to tune in for week five of I.S.R.U.

00:30:30 Tom Sachs: Are we gonna say what it is or announce that on Friday?

00:30:39 Erum: Well announce it later.

00:30:40 Tom Sachs: Alright so. Tune in to week five. Um. Thanks for watching and ahh keep your stick on the ice.