Are You Artistically Cross-Training?
January 29, 2014 • Leave a Comment
Several careers ago, I worked as a beverage monkey (the technical term for a coffee slinger before folks came up with cool titles like "barista"). During our busy times, I often took drink orders so fast that I would turn to the espresso machine and immediately forget what the customer requested. More often than not, my "phonographic" memory came to the rescue. The only way I can describe it is that while I forgot what the customer said, I could hear the sound of it, and my brain would play back and process that sound as I began to fill their order.
Weird, I know.
The reason I bring up that story is to illustrate that our brains constantly perceive and process information in many different ways. Sometimes as an artist, I can become so focused on my immediate workflow that I overlook other aspects of creativity that might allow me to stretch and grow.
Many of the artists I know are skilled at multiple crafts. Sometimes they are in different media (e.g.- I am also a musician), and sometimes they are different facets of the same medium (e.g.- as a musician, I play bass, guitar, drums, keyboards, accordion, trumpet, etc., and also enjoy mixing and producing.) I often view each of these as separate compartments, as I rarely have an opportunity to use them at once.
But what if I intentionally took these different facets and instead of compartmentalizing them, I began to cross-train with the goal of improving my overall creativity?
I recently rediscovered the orchestral works of Aaron Copland. When I think about the photographer I want to be, I think about grand landscapes, the American West, and a noble, pioneering spirit. To me, this is what Aaron Copland has done with his music. He composed so vividly that when I hear his works, I visualize the places and even the people who inspired him. (I also still want to shout "BEEF!" at the end of "Hoedown.") It's almost as though the notes turn into textures and patterns and begin to weave themselves together.
With his scores in my head, I start to see the kind of pictures I want to make.
Again, weird, but if you've experienced this, you know exactly what I mean.
Like I said, I have a phonographic memory. When I head out into the field, I will be drawing on his melodies and themes as inspiration.
So now I'm curious. Outside of your primary medium, what inspires you?
Thanks for looking,
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