Notes for presentation Peter Bright 10 December 2002

Mavericks & Moms (mentors of mavericks)

Over the past few weeks we have been looking at Methodologies. We have been given examples…..and have had Artists stand up here and explain their creativity, their inspirations and thoughts. Recently on TV there have been several programs about contemporary artists and what they have to say about their work. Some of the explanations and reasoning’s behind their processes have been unnecessary… ….detracting from the actual things they have created. Some have felt the need to over intellectualise their creativity and clutter their work with tedious explanation. Creativity should not be constrained by an ‘ism’ or a dogmatic view point, creativity is a valid starting point and is the beginning of invention. Unfortunately we have to work within this regime….. artists should be left to create, and academics left to invent and spew out the bullshit………the words are more palatable from their lips. I then began thinking about other disciplines, other vocations and occupations, wondering how relevant Art methodology is to them.

I remembered something called Mavericks & Moms

……moms is an acronym of ‘Mentors of Mavericks’…..

Section on’ Maverick Way’, Lanny Vincent, the role of a mom…eg support, enable realisation of invention….protect corporate survival through understanding the ‘Maverick’ method of creativity….through inter departmental understanding. Empower… Shake a coke can, open it and see what happens. The power of conversation, negotiation and chance in creation of new business models and products.


The word Maverick comes from a 19th century Texas land baron…….. Sam Maverick decided not to brand his stock; therefore any newborn or unbranded cattle wandering around on the free range could belong to him. Needless to say he was not a popular man.

A ‘Maverick’ is a person who is constantly having ideas and chasing their tails. Beginning projects with an energy that is uncontrollable. Staying up, working through the night. Forgetting to eat, forgetting to have a bath. Generally being self-absorbed in their own little world. ‘Mavericks fly beneath the radar. They possess the freedom to detect the creative vision that can lead to new products or businesses. But no one – in business …..from the chief executive to middle managers …… really wants to acknowledge their existence.’ Mavericks consider their projects to be different and new. ‘By their nature, they are not people who want to be noticed. Their ability to function as mavericks is to have a great deal of independence. They don't want to get locked into anything.’ However they could revolutionise the Art World, make a computer loop the loop, make air travel safer. Mavericks are generally lateral thinkers and innovators. Mavericks very rarely finish or complete anything and as a result they usually get the sack….. but that’s not really too bothersome, the next innovation/idea is far more interesting. This means that Mavericks are prone to under achieving if left to their own devices.

This definition of a Maverick could quiet easily be the definition of an Artist, Writer or Performer. The principal definition of a Maverick is being able to look at things from a different perspective see the other alternative possibilities.

Who are the moms?

A mom is generally experienced in several fields within an industry or subject. They are usually older, probably have children and are most likely former Mavericks. There are similarities between Moms and agents except Moms are more interested in the creation process, they are like alchemists mixing up the ingredients and watching the reaction. Their pleasure is second-hand but it is still highly pleasurable. Agents on the other hand take existing works or products and sell the ideas and concepts on.

What do Mavericks & Moms achieve?

This process of creation and survival is born out of chaos, initiates subversion and evolves into anarchy, eventually becoming the new order.

Here is part of a review of  "The Maverick Way” which shows how subversive and anarchistic freethinking can be within an established business. 

Cheverton (the principal author) along with Kimberly-Clark veterans Lanny Vincent and Bill Wilson, ……….attribute that company’s transformation from a paper & pulp operation to a formidable competitor in disposable diapers, tissue and other consumer goods to its mavericks,……. their MOMs,……. and the executives who protected them as they broke all the rules and hijacked budgets. The main heroes here are Bill Wilson and his "secret society" which worked so stealthily that supposedly most K-C employees didn’t even know they existed.’

This quote makes their actions sound like a vicious terrorist plot or a military coup….maybe this is what happened? (pull ups alternate direction for survival.)


In theory it should be an easy task to turn this business model back in on itself and adapt it to identify the mavericks in the Art world. This is not a simple task…..there are too many blurred edges. We have been hearing a lot about the role of the curator and the importance that has been placed on them. It has become trendy to say ‘I am a curator’, infact we were asked if any of us wanted to be a curator……as though this was something to aspire to….. This role has apparently a high status….. who is the Artist? Is the creator of the object the artist or is he just the creator of an object for a piece of work for a curator? Are curators, frustrated creators? A similar dilemma is the rise of British Artists like Damien Hurst and co. how important and crucial was the role of Saatchi? Was Saatchi a ‘Mentor of Mavericks’ or was he infact the Maverick? From a business angle Saatchi definitely spotted a market that was ripe for exploitation and by using subtle advertising techniques he created a market. There was an element of the Emperor’s New Clothes in his thinking and execution of method.

The artist Saatchi helped are still working……. so there was some talent there in the first place. Damien Hirst has become an official space artist… Rauchenberg in the 1960’s, who was NASA’s first official artist and Tracy Emmmmmen has teamed up with the Independent Newspaper and produced a drawing of a bird on a twig which is available in a limited print…..just in time for Christmas……or maybe that is one of her jokes.

I have found it difficult to find contemporary Artists that are truly putting themselves out on a limb. The majority appear to be trying to reinvent Art history. The library is full row upon row …..books, piles of articles, gallery catalogues, written by people who suffer from ‘Artistic Amnesia’ claiming to have discovered something new…rehashing the same old clichés……clichés written last century.  Is art about being a magpie, stealing/borrowing shiny ideas and making them into a hybrid?


The Egyptians worshiped gods that were half man half beast. This fascination with Zoomorphics is also evident in Celtic art. Even today artist like Carlee Fernandez meddle with nature, creating fantastic hybrid animals by altering taxadermic beasts, slicing and cutting them, mixing them together with inanimate objects, creating a freak show that is not so fantastic when you consider the possibilities of genetic engineering.

Scientists have recorded all the genes in the common mouse, which in theory means they could create mus musculas from scratch. The possibilities that are open to us are limitless; we could create a Frankenstein or cure cancer etc. etc.

There are practicing artists who follow daVinci’s principles of science influencing art and art influencing science, they are probably the closest we‘ve got to Mavericks, they ask questions about identity, our future, our fate and provide a glimpse at our destiny ….The possibilities of immortality and regeneration go hand in hand with Armageddon and disaster.

Case study one


Is an intelligent telerobotic installation by James Coupe In collaboration with Hedley Roberts and John Williamson. Which was shown at Artsadmin, Toynbee Studios, 28 Commercial Street, London. Between Wednesday 21st - Sunday 25th August 2002.

I, Robot is an art project that explores artificial intelligence, physical computing and remote control. It is an installation consisting of a social network of robots, live video streams and genetic algorithms.

Visitors had the opportunity to compete to parent robots and remotely participate in the robots' evolution within a sealed gallery environment. That is to say have a direct influence on their learning. The thrust of the idea….I think….is about the possibilities of creating an artificial intelligence which can learn and interact with other robots to create a community of cyber citizens. Learning from human interaction, but ultimately choosing which interactive characteristics to use. The logical progression of this idea is to end up with a type of Terminator robot that can interact, survive and compete with the humans that have supplied the original cyber genetic code. It all sounds like science fiction but it is a lot more thought provoking than a print of a bird on a twig. I, ROBOT (PHASE TWO) is coming to Millenium Point in Birmingham during February 2003.

This event sounds like something that would be more at home in a science museum, does this makes them scientists. Their credentials as artists speak for themselves.

James Coupe works with installation, electronics and digital media. Recent projects have focused upon the creation of viral systems, networked communities, remote control and tele-operative structures. Two installations (Digital Warfare Network Project Phase One and Digital Warfare Network Project Phase Two) have explored the relationship between the individual body and total digital system. These installations allow people to remotely control physical devices connected to a computer network.

'Digital Warfare Network (Project Phase Two)' was selected for 'New Contemporaries 2001', and exhibited at Camden Arts Centre. In 2002 he received an Artsadmin Artists' Bursary, for which he has created the installation, 'I, Robot (Phase One)', which employs genetic algorithms to create a remote controlled robot ecosystem. 'I, Robot' was also presented at the ISEA 2002 in Japan. Future projects include work with mobile positioning systems, satellites and artificial intelligence.

He has a degree in Fine Art from Edinburgh University and an MA in Creative Technology from Salford University. He is currently lecturer in Digital Art at the London College of Music and Media, a faculty of Thames Valley University.

Hedley Roberts works with digital media. His main areas of research are digital reproduction, simulation and virtuality. He has a degree in Fine Art from St. Martin's, and an MA in Fine Art from the Royal College of Art. He is currently senior lecturer in Digital Art at the London College of Music and Media.

John Williamson is Senior Administrator supporting the Creative Technologies Networks of the London College of Music and Media. He has extensive cartographic and system development experience, and current interests include the construction of new spatial systems and identifying the potentiality of virtual environments and communities.

In my opinion these people are closest to the Maverick spirit, they possess a Klondike pioneering mentality…….. but who will be their Moms?  The Curators? ……Their Moms will probably come from large companies like Microsoft, Adobe or government departments. Business will support people like these because business is now aware of the importance of freethinking…which is completely opposite to Art institutions who are stuck in a Post Modernist cul de sac.

Expand…too much emphasis on justification not enough support for creation etc…… Tragedy that capitalist businesses value creativity more than the creative arts.