Frank Lloyd Wright; genius maverick architect, who was one of the first leading ‘modernist’ architects, who followed his gut:
Some personal lessons he’s taught me on photography, art, and life:
1. Organic simplicity
Organic architecture as the modern ideal; fusion of organic, nature, and man.
2. Be honestly arrogant
“Early in my career, I had to choose between an honest arrogance and a hypercritical humility. I deliberately chose an honest arrogance, and I’ve never been sorry.” – Frank Lloyd Wright
Avoid false modesty. Proclaim that you are great. Believe in yourself.
3. Find God in Nature
“I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.” – Frank Lloyd Wright
“As we live and as we are, Simplicity is difficult to comprehend nowadays. We are no longer truly simple. We no longer live in simple terms or places. Life is a more complex struggle now. It is now valiant to be simple: a courageous thing to even want to be simple. It is a spiritual thing to comprehend what simplicity means.”
“If it sells, it is art.”
“Many wealthy people are just janitors of their own possessions.”
7. Never get old
“Grow up without getting old.”
Like Picasso; paint like a kid.
8. Ten principles
- Honest ego in a healthy body (keep healthy body, mind, and soul. And have a healthy ego and self-esteem)
- Eye to see nature (always train eye to see nature, to love nature, to appreciate)
- Heart to feel nature (to have the courage to follow nature)
- Courage to follow nature (to have courage in yourself)
- Sense of proportion (golden ratio — from nature)
- Appreciation of work as an idea, and ideas as work (coming up with ideas is hard work)
- Fertility of imagination (always stay child-like, curious)
- Capacity for faith and rebellion (to have faith in yourself, and rebel against the system or society)
- Disregard for commonplace (inorganic) elegance (anything inorganic is usually aesthetically ugly)
- Instinctive cooperation (follow your gut, but also work with those whose ideas gel with yours).
“An architect’s most useful tools are an eraser at the drafting board and a wrecking ball at the site.”
A photographer’s most valuable tool is the ‘delete’ function. Or knowing which photos not to choose.
Know the importance of photography to EDIT DOWN your photos to the essential; your best work.
Knowing that photography is also subtraction, like sculpting. Chipping away at the superfluous.
“Space is the breath of art.”
Give our photos more breathing room. Negative space. To breathe. Like air. We need to breathe to live.
11. Integration with nature
We should build buildings that are integrated with nature — not separated from nature.
As a photographer we should integrate ourselves with our subject. To photograph the reality we experience.
12. Freedom comes from within
Freedom isn’t money, outside wealth, etc. Freedom is having the courage in your heart to make the art you were designed to make.
Stick to your own artistic integrity; never compromise.
14. Feel bad for critics
“Critics may have minds of their own, but what chance have they to use them when experience in creating the art they write about is rarely theirs?” – Frank Lloyd Wright
Critics are sad artists, who don’t have the ability to create their own things. Or maybe not enough confidence to create their own things. Rather, their job is to criticize the work of other artists.
“Truth is seldom in the critic.”
Disregard the ‘opinions’ of critics. Consider them like babbling, afraid children.
15. Don’t be pretentious
“Pictures deface walls more often than they decorate them.”
Avoid superfluous decoration, to just show off.
“New York has reproduced much and produced nothing; Chicago is distinctly American.”
Don’t just copy other designs or trends. Make your own.
17. Human soul
Men develop the vision needed to reveal the human soul in work.
Show my soul through the work that I do.
18. Lead by example
Frank Lloyd Wright didn’t call himself a teacher, but exemplar.
An ‘exemplar’ is someone who leads by example. Rather than just being a ‘teacher.’
19. Democracy in America
The value of America: freedom, democracy, and individual freedom for all. To have the freedom to create the art you want to.
20. Art and poetry
Every great architect is a great poet; a great original interpreter of his world, time, and age.
Every great photographer is a great poet; a great original interpreter of his world, time, and age.
Use photography as an artistic tool to interpret the world according to your view. To document society, in today’s age. Not to fall victim to nostalgia.
One day someone will find the solutions to the problems of the world, and discover it is a poet (not scientist).
Science is not truth. We will find real ‘truth’ through philosophy.
22. On beauty
Beauty isn’t what you wear, how you look. It is how you represent yourself through your actions:
“What human beings do to themselves is what makes them ugly.” – Frank Lloyd Wright
To Frank Lloyd Wright:
“The more I live the more beautiful life becomes.”
Keep that optimism; to keep finding beauty in life, even as I get older.
23. On humanity
“All fine architectural values are human values.”
What human values do we have? Show the beauty of God, nature, through our human work.
24. Japanese Art
He was greatly inspired by Japanese Woodblock prints; collecting hundreds of them.
25. Usonian homes
Beautiful, unpretentious, natural homes for the mass public.
Shows his love for the public; trying to make affordable, aesthetically-appealing homes for the masses.
26. Inspiration for Steve Jobs?
Note: I remember how Steve Jobs said how he was inspired by good, mass-housing (he grew up in a suburban, simple home).
After doing some research, I found this interesting article: “The house that inspired Steve Jobs” — and here are some thoughts:
Steve Jobs first home (as a kid) was a Joseph Eicher-built home. These homes were one of the 11,000 homes built, in 12 different communities. Simple, clean, single-story, open-plan homes, with exposed wooden beams, and large top-to-bottom glass windows.
Eichler was influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright // after living in one of the famous “Usonian” homes.
Usonia: Idea of architecture, landscaping for the common American citizen. Simple, small, and embedded in environment — bringing this design to the masses.
Steve Jobs had warm memories of this home, told his vision of his design (in Steve Jobs Biography by Walter Isaacson):
“I love it when you can bring a really great design and simple capability to something that doesn’t cost much. It was the original vision for Apple.” – Steve Jobs
Frank Lloyd Wright has inspired me deeply.
To live boldly, on your own terms, to trust your own artistic vision. To have confidence in yourself. To keep creating, until you are 90, and until you die.
Make more art:
- YOU CAN DO ANYTHING
- How Not to Give a Fuck What Others Think of Your Photography
- Is Photography Art?
- Leonardo da Vinci: Art, Photography, and Life Lessons
- How to Make Better Photos
- The Art of Street Photography
- The Art of Photography
- How to Conquer Your Fears in Art
- How to Be a More Productive Artist
- How to Have More Confidence as an Artist
- Make Photos for the Sake of Making Photos
- Make, Don’t Take Photos
- Perfect Pearl
- Make Photos to Delight Your Soul
- Revel in Your Defective Artistry
- Photography is Poetry Without Words
- Labor to Make Your Photos Concise