The Trickster’s Hat: A Mischievous Apprenticeship in Creativity
By: Nick Bantock
Publisher: The Penguin Group
Publication Date: January 2014
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
In his latest book, The Trickster’s Hat, New York Times Bestseller Nick Bantock strikes a delightful balance between grounded logic and whimsical flair as he guides the reader through lessons on how to open his or her creative flood gates.
Mr. Bantock’s witty banter places his Trickster in the forefront as he steps the reader through a series of tasks using both painting and writing as his mediums. His Trickster’s mission is to awaken and release the artist’s creative being that resides deep within his or her core. Through an array of 49 challenges ranging in their complexities from simple to grandiose, if the reader reaches Lesson 49 and still has difficulty in connecting with his or her artist, perhaps there were too many distractions to dissuade focus along the reading journey.
As a writer, I was drawn more to the writing exercises versus the painting or drawing. In Lesson 6, the Trickster sets the reader up with a stream of consciousness writing challenge. He or she is to finish sentences the Trickster has partially begun. Emphasis is placed on the importance that there is no right or wrong way to master the feat. Rather, the student’s main focus is to simply get his or her pen flowing. In order to achieve creative flow, the student is disallowed to go back and link the thoughts together until all sentences have been completed: ‘You should now have three sets of three sentences. See if you can find a way to link these sets together in a vaguely cohesive fashion. Once you’ve done that, you can go back in and edit it, changing a few words here and there to help bring it together. By then it should have some life of its own. Try expanding it further, developing any characters or themes that have begun to show themselves…”
For the sketch artist, in Lesson 35, Banktok’s Trickster presents the willing artist with the notion of discounting black and white concepts of ‘how to draw’ and addresses learning technique: ‘it’s about learning to see and letting the retinal images pass through your intuitive grasp of nature’s structural rules, so that your fingers know when to move the pencil up, down, left, or right…’
To take on the challenge of writing a book for many artistic mediums and to do so without a ‘this is how you have to do it’ structure throughout, is an art in and of itself. Mr. Bantock achieves superb artistic delivery in The Trickster’s Hat. Through his consistent use of simple language he provides a solid grounding for each concept with logic that is tailor-made for the mind of an artist. Mr. Bantock had a clear vision when he cast his net: enlist a range of artists and teach them how to discover their artistic abilities. It is abundantly clear that this author resurrected his own artist to write this book through the able assistance of his Trickster. The non-structured exercises translate to adept and authoritative guidance. Congratulations to Mr. Bantock for admirably delivering a balanced blend of solid information. It is a terrific resource for a broad spectrum of writers, painters and sketch artists.
Quill says: Stop taking yourself so seriously as an artist. Enlist and rally your Trickster. He is there and ready to be awakened.