Last summer in my yearly grab for english language books on our whirlwind summer through the states, I grabbed a copy of How to Tattoo a Banana . It looked like a great opportunity to share with my students a fresh way of looking at the world to inspire them as they build their portfolio of artwork that is meaningful to them. What really struck me about this book was the combination of a childlike approach to non traditional art materials. On the one hand, I could see having fun with the projects in the book with my young daughters. On the other, I could see this becoming an eye opening experience for my high school students to challenge themselves to apply their higher technical ability with meaningful materials gathered from their worlds.
When I started watching his TED Talk, I hadn't realized that Phil Hansen was the author of the book I'd purchased, but when he started tattooing a banana, it was a dead giveaway. What is really great about this talk, though, is that in addition that sense of wonder and use of materials, he talks about the value of limitations.
I love how he combines these ideas- and I love thinking about limitations. The example I give my students every year is why limitations made the original Star Wars films some of the best films ever made, and why a lack of limitations made the prequels some of the worst. When Lucas had to cut corners at every turn, he had to come up with some pretty creative solutions. When he had a nearly limitless budget and no constraints, there was nearly no need for real critical thinking.
Hanson describes his kind of thinking as 'in the box' although its quite apparent that sentiment comes with a bit of irony - what he's really describing is an approach to art that seeks out new challenges with joy.