Brian Eno’s Early Handwritten Oblique Strategies Cards Inspire Our Own

Brian Eno

In the 1970s, Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt created a set of cards printed with suggestions designed to  break creative impasses. They were meant to be picked at random when a musician or artist found themselves ‘stuck’ and in need of a shift of view. David Bowie was one of many artists who used them (His well-worn deck, below.)

V&A Images

The roots of the printed deck were cards that Eno hand wrote in a mix of cursive and block handwriting to use in recording sessions. They drew upon lists of “ideas we wanted to remember” that Eno and his collaborator had each collected for years. “Honor your error as a hidden intention.
“If a thing can be said, it can be said simply.” “Don’t be frightened to display your talents.” “Tape your mouth”. “Change the order of things”…

Brian Eno

Wrote Eno,

Oblique Strategies evolved from me being in a number of working situations when the panic of the situation—particularly in studios—tended to make me quickly forget that there were other ways of working and that there were tangential ways of attacking problems that were in many senses more interesting than the direct head-on approach.

Brian Eno

As we looked at photos of Eno’s original Oblique Strategies at Open Culture, we wondered why not try making our own? We’d just picked up some cotton paper message cards at Muji thinking we might use them as business cards. Perhaps THIS is what we bought them for.  We could use our own insights or some of the various sources of wisdom we have lying around, The I Ching perhaps…

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