November 05, 2019

On Manifestos

In our summer newsletter, we shared how we’re feeling a calling to use our gifts, skills, and experiences in service to our community and beyond. Some of our motivation comes from all the “news” about how our beloved San Francisco has lost its way. Do we pack up our studios and join the exodus? Heck, no! We feel driven to show up more often, work harder, and apply all our energy and resources toward transforming the world around us for the better. 

As we’ve brainstormed how we might go about this, we’ve been thinking a lot about manifestos. How they express what we didn’t even know we were feeling. How they challenge and motivate us to think and act. How they can galvanize people and rally them to causes. 

We’ve been studying other creatives’ manifestos as we get ready to craft our own for In/Visible Talks, and this except from the Museum of Craft and Design’s manifesto gave us chills:

“You’re bold. You question the conventional notion of art. You are inspired by creativity that stirs the soul. And you value designers, makers, and artists who are risk takers and seek to inspire the world.” 

A manifesto is a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or opinions of a person or group. Historically, they’ve been used to define and communicate the ideology of radical and avant-garde political, religious, intellectual, and artistic movements. They’ve pushed boundaries. For example, look at the introductions to now-iconic movements of Western 20th-century art, including Futurism, Cubism, Dadaism, and Surrealism.

In recent years, “brand manifestos” have popped up everywhere. More thorough than a mission statement, more straightforward than a philosophy, this variation of manifesto distills a brand’s message to its most essential components. On a very basic level, it’s putting pen to paper for self-definition and goal setting. It can be comprised of brief, declarative statements. It can be poetic and dramatic while including, quite simply, only what really, really matters—and nothing that doesn’t. 

Here’s one of our favorite examples, an excerpt from “An Incomplete Manifesto for Growth” by Bruce Mau:

“Drift. Allow yourself to wander aimlessly. Explore adjacencies. Lack judgment. Postpone criticism.”

We’ve become so accustomed to having to “deliver”, day after day, week after week. Right? Reading this, being reminded to allow ourselves to be more spacious in our work, gives us such a sense of joy and freedom. We want to encourage more of this creative openness.

Take a look at some of the other manifestos that have given us inspiration and direction for our creative journeys:

“History is a Weapon: Riot Grrrl Manifesto” by Bikini Kill

“The Advantages of Being a Woman Artist” by Guerrilla Girls

Creative Morning’s Manifesto 

The League of Creative Interventionists’ Manifesto 

The Design Craft Manifesto

“First Things First” by Ken Garland

And watch this space for the In/Visible Talks Manifesto—coming soon!

We hope this has inspired you to create a manifesto of your own. If you need help, check out the free Artybollocks Generator.