A Brief Introduction to Tom Sachs’ 10 Bullets

Introduction

This is a list of staff rules at Tom Sachs’ Studio. Think of it as a set of rules given at orientation or during an agency’s onboarding.

Tom Sachs finds his creative aesthetic by the constraints he has chosen for his work, and these rules are here to teach us the importance of our traditions and constraints. This idea is highlighted by Sachs’, Tea Ceremony, as a traditional tea ceremony is a timeless practice involving ceremonial preparation and presentation of tea.

Tom Sachs’ 10 Bullets

Bullet 1: “Work to Code: ‘Creativity Is The Enemy”

  • Working to code means, when working at Tom Sachs’ studio, it’s important to remember that there is a system already in place. New ideas will be carefully built on top of those preexisting. Inventions should be conceived of out of necessity and not convenient to the individual. As the video puts it simply, “Work to code.”

Bullet 2: “Sacred Space“

  • Respect of the studio’s space is as Van puts it, “essential”. People are creating and finishing tasks, and “all respect should be given to a worker completing a task. “In the sacred space, one should proceed as in a Shaker Workshop or a Monastery.”

Bullet 3: “Be on time”

  • Not only does this rule apply to arriving on time, but also to the mentality of being, “On-The-Clock.” The present task is significant and should be treated as such. Being on time can also mean taking care of and being vigilant of one’s personal wellbeing. So sleep, eat, drink water, and most importantly maintain the body and mind.

Bullet 4: “Thoroughness Counts”

  • We should know that cutting corners leads to messes and mistakes. Even worse is that it can encourage others to also cut corners. One’s task can be split up into three sections. One, preparing for the task. Two, completing the task, and Three, leave no trace. Pass along relevant information to those who are privy to such information. Each of these steps to completing a task should be done through and to the studio’s strict standards.

Bullet 5: “I Understand”

  • This rule means that if you clearly understand the instructions you should say, “I Understand”. If you have questions you can say, “I Don’t Understand.” “I understand ensures that the sender and receiver are on the same page.” No confusion, no mistakes.

Bullet 6: “Sent Does Not Mean Received”

  • This one is simple, always get a receipt or proof of delivery of the package to the intended recipient. Use tracking methods or have a paper trail to follow. Using FedEx or email are examples of such. Lastly if needed, follow up with recipient for confirmation. Example, “Please confirm receipt”

Bullet 7: “Keep a List”

  • Keep a list of your tasks on you at all times. This goes without saying to always keep a pen or pencil available to write down new tasks, to check boxes, or alternatively run a line across the finished task. Keep notes like phone numbers, part numbers, or instructions. The lists,”..are your future and your past” of every project one is involved with.

Bullet 8: “Always Be Knolling”

  • Knolling as defined by the film, “To arrange like objects in parallel or 90-degree angles as a method of organizing.” This organizational method and studio standard ensures that everything can be seen, categorized, and accounted for. Everything has a place, and when it doesn’t, knolling provides the solution.

Bullet 9: “Sacrifice To Leatherface”

  • In Sachs’ studio, a small monetary sacrifice is to be given to Leatherface to right a mistake. A mistake is described in the film as poor oversite, weakness, and a lack of personal responsibility made by anyone who visits the studio. Owning up to and taking personal responsibility is the take away from this rule. The monetary fee simply provides a simple way to take such action and provide a fund for fun later.

Examples of actions that may require a Sacrifice to Leatherface.

  • $20: Leaving the studio unlocked and unprotected or leaving a potential fire hazard unattended

The fines may be low but it’s important to remember that a fine after doubles each occurrence.

Bullet 10: Persistence

  • “Nothing in the world can take place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” Ray Kroc, Founder of Mc’Donalds.

Note From The Author:

Our rules and rituals are who we are and will be reflected in the work in which we create and leave behind. These are not rules for everyone, but let them be a guide as you dedicate your life seeking consistency in your practice.

Resources:

A link to the How-To styled video is below. Directed by Van Neistat

Link to Van Neistat’s Personal Webpage

Link to Tom Sachs Personal Webpage

Link to the 10 Bullets inspired Notebook

Link to Tom Sachs’ Tea Ceremony

Link to HYPEBEAST article, Bullets, Boomboxes & Bricolage: A Beginner’s Guide to Tom Sachs By Ben Roazen, 2016

Link to HYPEBEAST article, Nike & Tom Sachs Reveal Upcoming NIKECRAFT Transitions Collection by Nicolaus Li, 2019

Photo by Barn Images on Unsplash

Creative Consultant | Integrated Producer