Posted on 13-03-2012
Filed Under (commentary) by Jon Stinson

What’s the difference between someone who is regarded as a creative, artistic person, versus a person who is generally regarded as non-creative?

In my mind the difference is simply a person who actively pursues creativity, and works on their art every day.

Making art is hard work. There are a million forces to fight in any given moment before an idea can be shipped:

  • laziness
  • fear
  • lack of inspiration
  • lack of time
  • lack of money
  • confidence
  • priorities
  • countless other forces

I believe that people often think they are not capable of being artistic, so they never try to be. The funny thing is, applying this logic even people who are successful artists are not artistic.

People who are regarded as artistic by others, are generally perceived as such because they are willing to take the risk of openly creating bad art, in order to ultimately create something that will inspire others. In other words, they most likely get it right 1 out of 10 (or 20 or 100) times. But it’s this one time that they get it right that causes people to compliment them with the “creative” or “artistic” perception.

Pretty much a year ago, my friend Austin wrote a book about overcoming inertia and meeting creative goals, which he published on his website for free. As a creative person willing to do the hard work of pursuing creativity, you owe it to yourself to download and read the short book (it’s 59 pages).

Twitter: @stsn

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Posted on 05-02-2010
Filed Under (art and creativity) by Jon Stinson

Having knowledge of the tools-understanding them-is an important part of your artistic process.

The results and character of what you get with pen and paper is certainly different from what you get with keyboards and electrons.

Recording to tape using a collection of vintage tube mics is not going to make your art any more or less compelling. But there is a specific inspiration you get from recording to tape, and another specific inspiration you get from recording to a DAW. And neither one of these is “better” than the other-they’re just different.

Make sure you understand the tools. Don’t ignore one thing because it’s too “new” and another because it’s too “old.”

Utilize a collection of tools throughout all your creative processes, whether recording, writing, taking photos, or anything else creative. You will be pleased with the way it changes your style and character, and the different nuances within the results you get.

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Posted on 15-07-2009
Filed Under (producing and engineering) by Jon Stinson

Magic Bullet

There are so many magazines, books, and blogs on the subject of producing and recording music. Throughout the years I’ve read my fair share of all these books, often times focusing on each and every technical step to the point of overcomplicating the learning process for myself.

Unfortunately most of these published works put a heavy focus on the “A,B,C’s,” and the “tips and tricks” aspect of record making as if the process of recording can be simplified down to a homogenized operation-with a strict right and wrong attached to that process.

Or that there is some magic bullet that will work for any and all situations. And because some hit record-maker thought up this trick, if you use it, everything the trick is applied to will magically be a hit.

Granted, I have written a few “step-by-step” posts myself, and I think that in the grand scheme of things, there is powerful knowledge and wisdom that can be garnered from learning about the tricks that the hit-makers invented (but you have to understand the theories behind why it works).

But what I really try to shine light on with Producer Notes is the underlying artistic and human qualities within creating and recording music. Every situation has a specific context. Each one of these contexts requires an artistic choice which is congruent with that record, and that artist’s identity and vision. When you understand, really understand, the underlying scientific theories which compose the environment in which you are making these choices, you will realize an empowerment that hit-makers experience every day.

But to get there, ironically, you have to first DO-Learn By Doing

Certainly there is a scientific base point upon which pretty much all recording concepts were invented. But that does not make recording any less of an art form than the underlying scientific base point of music itself makes playing an instrument.

Producing and recording is mostly art, and a little bit science. Approach it that way. Take risks. Think up your own ways to do things. Don’t worry if you’re breaking some scientific theory. And Don’t carbon copy the hit-makers tricks. Study them like a musician studies other musician’s compositions-to better understand music. Record-making should not be cheapened to a “one, two, three” process. There is no “right.” There is no “wrong.” And tricks are not invented to be applied to all things. That also cheapens the trade.

Photo by Licensed under a Creative Commons license.

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