Even the most accomplished artists will tell you – at any given moment — their creative flow can suddenly come to a paralyzing halt. Usually the best talents manage to navigate the choppy waters and find a way to emerge from the work-stopping struggle. We asked four successful contemporary artists from disparate disciplines to tell us where they go to “get unstuck.” Meet an architect, a sculptor, musical composer and a caricaturist who agreed to address the following:
Question: Whenever you feel creatively “stuck,” do you have a kick-ass way to break through the block?
Beau Hufford: Caricaturist, San Diego, California (Pic #1)
Answer: “The worst thing I can do for myself is to force work out. Deadlines exist. Time exists. I get it. But ultimately I have found that I have to be unproductive until I am productive. This definition does not equal being lazy or saying f**k it to the work.
It simply says that in order to really let your ideas flow, you have to take a walk, play a game, shoot a gun, have sex, eat a muffin or involve yourself in any number of distractions that exist in your world. The goal is always on the edge of my awareness but realizing what I control and more importantly what I can’t control really helps me find the best stuff I have ever thought of. The short answer to this question is: have sex.” Click here for Beau’s website.
John Sokoloff: Composer, Los Angeles, California (Pic #2)
Answer: “When (iconic Irish rocker) Bono was asked “What if you have nothing to write about?” He answered, “I write about nothing.”
We are never in a complete vacuum. There is always something to catalyze creativity. If I have nothing and get angry because of it — I will then write about anger. The key is to not pre-judge one’s art. This is what most often stifles creativity for me. Expectations. Remember, it’s inside out — not outside in. Do not allow preconceptions (self-imposed or by others) to limit your spectrum.
Metaphors catalyze my music. Sports, as one good example. Every great athlete is an artist. Watching a Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan or a Magic Johnson in their day was experiencing music. Every athlete has a moment of time to fill with creativity. Think a measure of music. A boxer can fill this time with 2 left jabs and a right cross. (In musical terms that is two 1/8 notes and a half note). A hockey player is going down the middle of the ice — he can pass to the left, or to the right — or drop the puck back at reduced pace. The great ones will do the unexpected. This is creativity exemplified.
In sports, as in music, patterns develop early in an event. A boxer will feed his opponent a certain pattern of punches for the early rounds and then change it up by faking and deviating from the expected pattern. (Like we do in blues — develop a pattern which the audience depends on — then put a pause in certain key areas to give a sensation of expectation abruptly changed.) The road not taken — taken. This allows for the tension, build up and release that makes music such a magical, visceral experience.” John’s website: http://johnsokoloff.net
Flora Kao: Sculptor, Los Angeles, California (Pic #3)
Answer: “I take a stroll through the aisles of Home Depot where I can examine the huge range of materials available for art making … that’s where I found my air plants (See Pic #4).
I catch up on as many museum and gallery shows as humanly possible to savor the great range of creative gestures out there and relish LA’s vibrant arts community…
I take a break with the visual feasts of Huntington and Descanso Gardens… and add a healthy mix of freedom, deadlines, and rules to break.”
Flora’s website: http://floratkao.blogspot.com
Robert Carpenter: Architect, Los Angeles, California (Pic #5)
Answer: “I’m a bath taker…getting stuck during design gets an E-Ticket straight to the tub. Super hot soakings release the bad mojo and brew the senses. When the creative juices are warmed and ready, sketches on the foggy glass enclosure translate to the ideas that bring satisfying completion.
My perfect space for stimulating creativity is an environment with music, light, and all supplies nearby. Whenever possible–outdoors.”
Read an in-depth profile on Robert’s work here.