If you didn’t already know, “art is theft” (Pablo Picasso).
All ideas are recycled from something else, nothing is truly original. Good artists understand that all creative work builds on what came before.
Don’t be afraid to steal, it’s what the best artists do…”immature poets imitate, mature poets steal” (T.S Elliot).
Good theft involves getting inspiration from several sources and transforming (or remixing) a number of ideas into your own. Bad theft involves completely imitating one idea – essentially plagiarizing something. Avoid ripping-off other people.
ONE: Find out what inspires you and capture it
Find whatever fuels your imagination and consume it! Examples include films, music, books, paintings, photographs, architecture. Always carry a notepad with you and jot down ideas of things that get your creative juices flowing. This is exactly what Kaskade does, listen to his interview with Tim Ferriss here.
TWO: Write the sequel!
This quote from Brian Eno sums up his approach to making music: “my interest in making music has been to create something that doesn’t exist that I would like to listen to. I wanted to hear music that had not yet happened, by putting together things that suggested a new thing which did not yet exist.”
When you watch something, or more likely hear something, think about how an advancement of that would sound? What would a version 2.0 sound like? This can help to come up with some new ideas you wouldn’t have thought of before.
THREE: Step away from the screen…
“In the digital age, don’t forget to use your digits!” (Lynda Barry), by this she means hands! Sometimes staring at a screen all day and tapping keyboards can starve us of our creativity. Instead, get away from the computer, grab a pen & paper or a real instrument and let the magic happen.
FOUR: Do some HOUSE WORK!
When you’re busy doing more boring, mundane tasks, you’ll be surprised how much better your ideas will get. Do you seem to get some really amazing ideas when you’re driving on the motorway? Yep, me too. This is why I often decide to wash the dishes myself (even though I have a dishwasher) and iron all my shirts (even though I have a dry cleaner right by my home).
When your mind isn’t focussed on work, that’s when it’s really working.
If you’re struggling with ideas, go for a really long walk, and see how you feel afterwards. I guarantee, you’ll feel just as good as this guy…
FIVE: Stand next to talent and collaborate
Questlove sums this up nicely when he says “the only mofos in my circle are the people I can learn from”.
Find ways of surrounding yourself to talented people. Follow the best people online, these are the guys who you think are smarter and better than you. Collaborate with other musicians and learn from everything you do.
SIX: Live a ‘regular’ life and build a routine (even if it is boring!)
The idea of the creative genius who’s running around sleeping with everyone and taking drugs every night couldn’t be more relevant to DJs, but I don’t believe we work like that. That lifestyle is for whoever wants to become the latest member of the 27 club.
Instead make your life boring! Build your day-to-day around routines and schedules. Gustave Flaubert believes in this too: “be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”
This is the thing. It takes a lot of energy to be truly creative. And if you’re going around pilled up, fucking everyone that’s gotta take up a lot of energy. Look after yourself and be an absolute animal in your studio!
SEVEN: Paradise Theory
I was once explained paradise theory by a member of staff at a music shop here in Leeds. The idea is that in this digital age, we have a limitless amount of possibilities at our disposal.
Take ‘sounds’ as an example, if you’re starting a new idea chances are that you’ll have 100 different ideas for a particular sound you want. You’ll probably jump through a host of VSTs bouncing from sound to sound and before you know it your inspiration and creativity is squandered. This, is paradise theory.
Giving yourself all the colours in the palette kills your creativity. Limit and constrain your creative possibilities and watch your ideas blossom.
Creativity is subtraction.