I’ve written about Semi-Permanent 2013 several times on this blog which actually a little bit surprising to me. It was great conference but I have to be honest, I was totally distracted by my own personal pursuit to push myself outside of my creative comfort zone that many of the conference’s tangibles didn’t make it home with me. I was inspired, sure; Pumped? Absolutely! But those practical nuggets of information offered up by the talented line up of speakers got lost somewhere in the 24 hours between leaving the Melbourne Convention Centre and walking into my front door of my home in Perth. Or so I thought.
Two years on, I was reminded of a great piece of advice I heard at the conference. This week it sprung to the front of my mind so clearly that it of course must have been sitting in the recesses of my memory eagerly waiting for the time it could jump right out of its hidey-hole with the most impact.
It was Ben Briand, a talented film maker and director, who offered up the ingenious idea of using music to help inform your creative work. Ben has worked on a slew of highly acclaimed projects with his most awarded and most successful being the Australian TV Series, Puberty Blues (I love this show).
I’m a little rusty on the details but Ben talked about how he would pick a piece of music that either represented his interpretation of the creative brief, answered the creative brief or simply ‘set a tone’ for project. He would listen to this music as he would work on his film projects, and swore by it as a way to enhance his creative capabilities.
When I go back from Semi-Permanent back in 2013 and for a few months after, I actually did try this. It worked. For this Skydiving project, I listened to back to back thrashy Linkin Park-esque sounds because they neatly summed up the sounds this skydiving company uses in their customer sky-dive footage. The project was successful; I was really happy with the design and everything just totally hit the nail on the head for the client. For this project, I listened my way through a few curated Asian playlists on Spotify (don’t ask me which ones). Again, with this project, I was happy with the result and so was the client.
For whatever reason, I stopped after those two projects and didn’t really take the time to dictate my projects’ sounds. Perhaps it took too much time? I can’t remember.
This week I didn’t consciously pick this technique back up. Instead, I was reminded of it. I was designing a website for a luxury apartment builder, and I was in a serious mode of focus. My ideas were flowing, my motivation was high, and my concentration was locked in allowing creativity to flow freely and thoroughly, which it did. I was listening to Johann Strauss II, an Austrian composer of light music who I stumbled across while I was on some misguided search for some “progressive house music” (blergh). I think I had to eat at some point so I took a break and when I returned to my desk, I continued working. However, this time I didn’t put my headphones on and there was no Strauss seeping into my ears. I wasn’t experiencing the same sort of productivity I was that morning but when my headphones eventually found their way to my ears, my productivity picked up again.
I didn’t consciously recognise this transition at the time. It was some hours later in the late afternoon that my little Ben Briand tangible flew out of the recesses of my brain and let me know what was going on. From that moment, I made sure Strauss or some close equivalents were playing, to continue helping my creative process.
I’m not sure if this whole music thing is because of the emotional connection music can bridge between itself and ourselves or if its simply a technique in building habit. Whatever it is, it works. You should try it sometime.
Find out what enhances your creativity and take advantage of that. For me, I've found that it's music