Think of Wreck This Journal as the anarchist's Artist's Way -- the book for those who've always wanted to draw outside the lines but were afraid to do it.
For anyone who's ever wished to, but had trouble starting, keeping, or finishing a journal or sketchbook comes Wreck This Journal, an illustrated book featuring a subversive collection of suggestions, asking readers to muster up their best mistake - and mess-making abilities to fill the pages of the book (and destroy them).
Through a series of creatively and quirkily illustrated prompts, acclaimed artist Keri Smith encourages journalers to engage in 'destructive' acts - poking holes through pages, adding photos and defacing them, painting with coffee, colouring outside the lines, and more - in order to experience the true creative process. With Keri Smith's unique sensibility, readers are introduced to a new way of art and journal making, discovering novel ways to escape the fear of the blank page and fully engage in the creative process.
Keri Smith in conversation about Wreck This Journal.
How did you come up with the initial idea for WRECK THIS JOURNAL?
While it may seem that on the surface "Wreck this Journal" could be seen as a trick or a gimmick, I assure you it is not. The meaning in it is multilayered.
-I am very interested in the Fluxus group, who created "happenings" that in part celebrate the absurdity of life, as well as revel in the mundane.
-I am poking a bit of fun at consumerism (purchasing something you destroy).
-It is a way through creative blockages, pushing you well beyond the fear of the blank page.
-I believe little rebellious acts performed on a daily basis can turn into life changing larger rebellious acts. when you question things on a small scale, you begin to question everything.
-I wanted to create a book that was based on using whatever you had around you in the moment (causing people to be aware of somethings they might not have noticed). Pages ask you to smear them with mud, etc.
One of my favorite quotes:
"To question the habitual. But that's just it, we're habituated to it. We don't question it, it doesn't question us, it doesn't seem to pose a problem, we live it without thinking, as if it carried within it neither question nor answers, as if it weren't the bearer of any information. This is not long even conditioning, it's anaesthesia. We sleep through our lives in a dreamless sleep. But where is our life? Where is our body? Where is our space?" --Georges Perec
How did people first respond to it?
I think there are some who feel a bit challenged by it, feeling like it is hard to go against all the normal conventions and how we've been taught to operate around books. One reviewer wrote:
"Keri Smith’s books can tear down years worth of parenting! "...which made me laugh. That is a huge compliment to me. What was beautiful to me was the difference in how it was received by adults versus how it was received by kids. The adults expressed some fear and trepidation, while the kids jumped right in with reckless abandon, especially with the more challenging prompts (shower with the journal, climb up high and drop the journal, lose this page). I love that kids seem to have no fear with it while the adults have a whole lifetime of social mores to battle.
Why is important to break the rules?
As I mentioned above, I believe little rebellious acts performed on a daily basis can turn into life changing larger rebellious acts. when you question things on a small scale, you begin to question everything. This is important to help develop critical thinking. Our school system is based on learning how to please and obey your teachers, as an institution this is both outdated and dysfunctional. It is very difficult to shake years of programming by our mass culture and our institutions, but it is my hope that by encouraging people to engage in mini revolutions that a small fire is ignited in them thereby beginning the process of "deprogramming".
Who are your heroes and why?
Italo Calvino (because he plays with the reader), Georges Perec (because he invites you to play a game with him), Corita Kent (because she was a revolutionary in her time and a master at teaching us how to "see"), Alan Fletcher (because he teaches us to look at things from different perspectives and not take life too seriously), Carl Jung (because he describes what it means to be human), Bruno Munari (because he teaching us to not take life too seriously), the Buddha (because he teaches us that we are not our ego and to live in the present moment.)