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Dear Little Bobby,
In this age of CEOs going to creativity retreats and the fact that the word “creative” has turned into a noun, how can an artist keep their edge? How can a person still be an artist and not be “A Creative”?
—Creative, not Corporate
Dear Creative, Not Corporate,
I feel like the way an artist keeps their edge is by constantly being open to new ideas—obviously this includes new ideas in terms of the actual art, but it is also important to be open to new EVERYTHING: new people, new jobs, new artists around you, etc. This can be hit or miss.
For example I find new music through the creative people that I trust; we know each other well enough to know what to recommend—but there is always the chance that I won’t like something. That is fine! I keep searching. It never takes long to find new artists who inspire me with their use of modern or classic technologies and ideas…that inspiration is but a spark to the fire inside me.
Don’t be afraid of going over the “edge” that you are looking for either. In my search for personal inspiration I often find myself going to a place I have never been, like perhaps using songs to explore an emotion that I have never put into my music. I remember the first time that I wrote a song about a tragedy that I saw on the news; this came after years and years of writing songs about Love (lost or otherwise). I remember, at 19 years old suddenly thinking, “I love astronomy and all things ‘space’ so much that I want to write songs about THAT, about outer space,” and so I did. In fact, it turned into an entire album.
For me, each time I write a song or start thinking of what the next record should be about, I always find myself looking for a topic that I haven’t covered, or maybe the same topic, even as general as “Love,” but with an absolutely different spin…different co-writer, different musicians, same topic but opposite viewpoint.
The corporate creatives can have their “retreats”—meanwhile I find refuge in myself…always the same, always changing.
p.s. Just remember…Yourself Is Steam.
Dear Little Bobby,
Sometimes I feel like I can’t find my voice in the sea of creative voices. I feel lost as an artist and might want to earn my living at something unrelated, because I think that it might help me to rekindle my fire. Is this a crazy idea or am I on to something?
—Lost in the Crowd
Dear Lost in the Crowd,
This is NOT a crazy idea. Sitting still or stifling yourself with fear or failure or fear of anything is a crazy idea. If you need to make a living doing something unrelated, then do what you need to do, without reservation. It could, POSSIBLY, rekindle your creative fire—BUT don’t count on it to do so on its own.
I suggest that you meditate on, and investigate, what it is that you truly love. For me it can be a partner or a former partner, my circle of friends, the natural world around me as well as “me,” my very “self.” I believe that the unique experiences we each have are the goldmine from which we are to extract, or to create, something else that is just as unique, using whatever technologies/instruments/canvasses are currently available to so many of us. We each know unique when we see it—or feel it.