5 questions with Steve Chapman: rekindling a love for wonkiness

1st July 2019

It’s just over two weeks until the next keynote event in our Vision series where we welcome Steve Chapman, artist, philosopher, TEDx speaker, and all-round supporter of the weird and wonky, to Bristol. 

Steve’s entertaining talk promises to explain how to nurture what makes us uniquely weird so that it becomes our creative super power, if you haven’t got your ticket yet then book HERE.  We spoke to Steve ahead of the event to find out more…

1. What can attendees at ‘You’re Beautiful Wonkiness’ expect from the event?

Some stories and conversations about what it really means to be a creative human being and the importance of weirdness (or as a minimum being just weird enough) if we want to make a difference in the world.

2. What do you hope attendees will take away from the event?

I hope that people will gain a re-kindled love for their natural born wonkiness: those unique talents, quirks, and ways of seeing the world that we consciously or unconsciously traded to fit in better and be more like everyone else.  I hope people will leave with a sense of creative mischief and a bold experiment to make a difference to something that’s important to them.

3. When we first spoke with you, you mentioned that your philosophy was “screwing around with normality.” How do you live by this?

The short answer is that I’ll share some examples of this at the session!  The rather longer answer is that I am constantly curious about how common sense and expertise stifles, rather than enables, change.  So, when I spot stuckness I’m intrigued by how I can create an experiment that is counter-intuitive or the opposite of what is “normal” simply to see what would happen.  And the important thing about an experiment is that you don’t know if it is going to work or not.  So learning to live with failure and rejection is as much part of this as the joy of seeing something take-off and have a life of its own.

4. How should organisations be embracing the idea of celebrating employee weirdness?

The first thing I would say is that there is no point in doing it unless a) you are serious about it, and b) everybody brings more of themselves to the workplace, be you a work experience person or the CEO.  I come across so many organisations that say “We want more creativity in the workplace” but are really saying to me “Can YOU get THEM to come up with more ideas for ME!”

This work is much more difficult than people appreciate as it requires a fundamental shift in the cultural permission to be more “mad, bad and wrong” in the workplace, to be counter-cultural in service of the change they are wanting to see.  This requires loosening the grip of what is regarded as “sane, good and right” around here, just enough to promote bold experimentation, creativity and innovation. I wrote a blog a few years back that I would send to organisations that wanted to speak to me, to check how up for it they really were:

5. If you could only offer people one piece of advice about their approach to creativity, what would it be and why?

Be more obvious and try much, much less.  Work on becoming more of what you already are rather than striving to become something you are not already. And if those around you reject you, humiliate you or shame you for doing this – find some different people to hang around with!

You’re Beautiful Wonkiness: The rise of the outsider is taking place from 12.30 – 2.15pm on Tuesday 16th July at Origin Workspace, Bristol. 



About Bristol Creative Industries

Bristol Creative Industries is the membership network that supports the region's creative sector to learn, grow and connect, driven by the common belief that we can achieve more collectively than alone. 

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