The Map Already Here

“What do you consider the largest map that would be really useful?”

“About six inches to the mile.”

“Only six inches!” exclaimed Mein Herr. “We very soon got to six yards to the mile. Then we tried a hundred yards to the mile. And then came the grandest idea of all! We actually made a map of the country on the scale of a mile to the mile!”

“Have you used it much?” I enquired.

“It has never been spread out, yet,” said Mein Herr: “the farmers objected: they said it would cover the whole country and shut out the sunlight! So we now use the country itself, as its own map, and I assure you it does nearly as well.”

(Sylvie and Bruno Concluded - Lewis Carroll)

Andy Smithymanthoughts
The Creative Journey Is One Long Bio

Two parts of one photographer’s bio. 1: The journey of commitment and patience & 2: The visual wins.

Both are interlinked. They share the same DNA. That’s the beauty of the creative journey. It’s one long bio.

“Ogawa Kazumasa (1860-1929), a Japanese photographer, printer, and publisher known for his pioneering work in photomechanical printing and photography in the Meiji era. Studying photography from the age of fifteen, Ogawa moved to Tokyo aged twenty to further his study and develop his English skills which he believed necessary to deepen his technical knowledge. After opening his own photography studio and working as an English interpreter for the Yokohama Police Department, Ogawa decided to travel to the United States to learn first hand the advance photographic techniques of the time. Having little money, Ogawa managed to get hired as a sailor on the USS Swatara and six months later landed in Washington. For the next two years, in Boston and Philadelphia, Ogawa studied printing techniques including the complicated collotype process with which he’d make his name on returning to Japan.”


In 1889, he became a founding member of the Japan Photographic Society (Nihon Shashinkai), the first photography association in Japan, and in that same year the publishing company he founded, the Ogawa Kazumasa Photographic Copperplate Engraving Studio, printed Essence of the Nation (Kokka 国華), which is often described as the first mass produced art magazine in Japan. In 1894 he assisted the Tokyo Asahi Shinbun in using the halftone process to reproduce photographs in a newspaper for the first time…. his efforts to expand the use of photography in a range of media – from newspapers to magazines and from albums to popular public exhibitions – transformed the way that people thought of the practical applications of taking pictures as a visual technology.”


Andy Smithymancreativity
Scheming Paradox


the activity or practice of forming a plan or program of action (sometimes a crafty or secret one).


a seemingly absurd or contradictory statement or proposition which when investigated may prove to be well founded or true. Also a story from the complex mind of Andy.

Spot It A Mile Off

Something to think about... because George Orwell believed everything was at stake, he delayed crucial medical care to finish writing ‘1984’.

Six months later, he died. 

Reading through some of his notes and observations from friends, illness did sharpen the content of 1984. In previous works, he rarely pulled any punches, but in this case, all literature gloves were off. Time was short. 

Arguments continue as to whether his decision was wise - ‘just think of the books he could've written’ versus ‘but the very nature of his decision made the book into what it is’. Those debates will continue, but it's clear that today, his 70-year-old prophecy still holds up with its insightful critic about how we live. 

The anniversary of 1984 has made me think about the words we, I, craft. It’s easy to deliver ‘weak’ words - fill the airwaves with phrases that carry little or no impact and cost. But to craft a sentence from a trembling heart due to its hidden backstory, calls on the person to dig deep into what they truly believe. 

That sentence doesn't need to be full of words; it could be an act of compassion towards a neighbour, work colleague or pupil. For others, it might frame itself around solidarity act for justice or involve a decision which impacts the bank balance, work or home location. 

'Weak’ words verses (...?) words. It's hard to find the right description to capture such worth. But you can spot it a mile off when you hear its voice.

Andy Smithyman
Storytelling Is Important

"He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past" - the ever present challenge of Orwell's 1984.

Storytelling is important.

Andy Smithyman
Beauty Of The Now

Over the last couple of years, with this dear friend, I’ve had the joy of hearing artists at the prime of their craft. These concerts always carry the whispers in the air that “maybe, it’s the final round before retirement,” but these soon disappear when they play the first chord. A craftsperson has a way of doing that. There’s no reliance upon fancy gimmicks and elaborate stage shows - just their presence, subtle lighting and a band of fellow crafters. 

But this concert added a new element. The old master told his tale. A tale about his journey of learning his craft and the not-so-glamorous path of following any dream. He showed appreciation for what was before. The sofa-surfing, hitchhiking and endless moments of walking with a bag and guitar case. And thankfulness of where that journey has now taken him. Maybe that’s why he performed a little surprise magic after the show should've ended. 

For someone who is today lugging an IKEA bag full of books around London (complete with strange looks), it's a helpful reminder to savour these moments. Not that I'm expecting to do a talk in the O2, but sometimes it's easy to look ahead and not notice the beauty of the ‘now’.

Andy Smithyman
Embrace The World Of Your Inner Child

"As children, we are driven by our inner desires to learn, to discover and to help others. But as we grow, we are programmed by our society to need extrinsic motivations: if we take out the trash, study hard and work tirelessly, we will be rewarded with friendly praise, high grades and good paychecks. Slowly, we lose more and more of our intrinsic motivation (finds the very action fulfilling, no further reward is necessary). On the path towards adulthood, our natural dedication decreases with age."

"Children often demonstrate great dedication in striving towards small goals: they romp about with great curiosity and sample everything possible in an attempt to understand the world. It is with great pleasure that they employ their hands, mouth, eyes and ears to learn about anything, whether observing butterflies or learning to stack cans. They are intrinsically motivated to a high degree. Over the years, however, they change: their urge to search for challenges and novelties lessens. Little by little, they cease to further their skills themselves. So what happens to their motivation? Intrinsic motivation is gradually lost as a person is confronted with a world in which everything relies on extrinsic motivation"

Two abbreviated quotes from Daniel Pink’s book, Drive.

Andy Smithyman
Stories Linger

The beauty of the stories we tell… they carry the hints of voices beyond our own. And maybe, just maybe, the story we craft might linger beyond our own retelling.

Harry Potter's Forgotten Predecessor: 25 years ago, Neil Gaiman introduced another bespectacled teen boy with a magical destiny.

An unassuming English kid with glasses obtains a pet owl, and takes up his preordained destiny to enter a secret world of magic hidden in plain sight—brought to you by one of the world's most successful fantasy authors. That thumbnail summary of course describes Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling's hit series first published in 1997, which is still a massive pop-culture phenomenon today. But the description also fits The Books of Magic, a DC Comics miniseries published 25 years ago this month by Neil Gaiman. Though largely forgotten, the series foretold much of pop-culture's current (and seemingly insatiable) appetite for the superhero and fantasy genres.

Andy Smithyman
Collaborative Creativity.

‘Creativity is a collaboration between artist and audience.’

A thought-provoking statement.

It teaches me not to become that ‘creative peacock’, strutting around as though what I have formed is a wonder to behold.

Anything created has within its creation the marks of the past, present and future; because what I see is not formed from just my eyes.

Paradox is a book with page 413 stating ‘the end.’

And yet, as this Paradox Sketches Tour continues, I am learning to appreciate the extra words forming beyond the cover.

But even then, it’s very easy to think of creation as a physical product. This journey is teaching me that this story is more than a book. And I’m not the one writing it.

Yes, creativity is a collaboration between artist and audience. But creativity also lets us into an ancient wisdom - it's often hard to distinguish between artist and audience. And rightly so.