55 - The hand of the artist

The Hand Of The Artist

The Hand Of The Artist

Hello and welcome to the Spark And The Art creativity podcast. The weekly podcast where we alternate interviews with insight and inspiration to help you get started or, more importantly, finished on your creative projects. 

In our last episode, we talked with user experience designer and musician Davidicus. He was lucky enough to find a career that allowed him to combine his passion for music and his love of design to work as the interface and experience designer on the Guitar Hero video game.

This idea of using all your interests in the creative process is a theme of our chat and he mentions that his visual art instructs his music and vice versa. He said that he had learned the idea that in visual art, especially computer created art, it's important to see the artist in the work. If something looks too polished and perfect it can lack something. Usually you can't tell what is missing though. Davidicus then says that after he really took that to heart that he felt that his own music was lacking for the same reason. It was, in his words, "overproduced" and "very accurate and mechanical" and that no matter what he did, it was going to have that "industrial kind of feel." He mentions a story of Jon Bonham of Led Zeppelin and how on a recording they just put the drum kit in an untreated stairwell to record it and just left in all the squeaks of him playing. Davidicus said, "That’s what I try and do now. I try and keep all the squeaks." Because, as he says, when people hear that, they won’t know why but, they say That’s The Real Deal. When he's ready to share his new music, we'll have him on and we can talk about the differences and similarities between what he's done and what he's now doing.

In my interview with Andrew Ford, one of the lead character animators on The Book Of Life, we talk about how everything in the movie was created from scratch. It had to be thought up, sketched, painted, sculpted and created in the computer. If it wasn’t created, it didn’t exist. From the texture on the cobblestones to the clouds in the sky, it all was created by someone. Even the colour and location of the lights are made from pixels. He called this 'the hand of the artist.' The interesting part is that it's the hand of hundreds of artists all working together with a single vision. Visual artists, concept artists, musicians, animators. It's pretty mind boggling to me that animated movies get made at all. You can hear my talk with Andrew, in episode 26, online at TheSparkAndTheArt.com/26

So, whatever you are creating—whether it's photography or writing or painting or designing cars, whatever—make sure you are putting yourself in your work. Make sure people can see the human in the work. Don't polish it so much that the humanity disappears. 

The only way to figure out how to do that is to create a lot of work. Just keep making things. Lots and lots of things. Ragged things and polished things. Keep creating until you can no longer sense the technique; you can only sense the emotion. That's when the hand of the artist is present. When you can’t see it. 

Here's where you get to do some thinking

  • What are some of your favourite things?
  • What about them speaks to you?
  • Does it seem like different people worked on it or does it feel like a single vision?
  • What about your own work feels a bit off?
  • Is it because it feels like you've worked it so much all the passion is gone? Or does it feel like not enough of your true self is in the work?
  • Is there something you could try right now to change that?

Thanks to everyone who has left a review on iTunes. It seems silly, but it really does help other people find the podcast. 

If you think this episode may help someone you know, feel free to share it with them. The URL to send is TheSparkAndTheArt.com/55

Questions, comments and complaints can be sent to me via twitter @sh_tucker. 

Thanks for listening and remember, you won't get the art without the work and you won't do the work without the spark.