Consuming art to create art

Since I started doing music, photography and other arts in which I’m interested, when I asked some people for advice at the start, the typical answer was “draw/listen/copy/play someting you like”. I think that trying to imitate a reference artist can be useful and motivating in the beginning to learn some technique, but what happens when all your education is based on learning that way?
Old music sheets
Learning classical piano for example, the common denominator of most schools is that they teach you how to read sheet music gradually, to be able to play more and more dificult songs, songs which most of them were composed two hundred years ago, isn’t there any good classical piano composers at present? Things are quite different in modern music styles like Jazz or Blues, where an significant part of the song isn’t in the paper but in the artist, this forces the interpreter to contribute with a personal expression to the song. Due to this “extra” effort we do have some brilliant Jazz musicians at present, Brad Mehldau for example. I don’t pretend to say that modern styles are for most talented musicians, I just think that some existing (and extended) teaching methods don’t maximize the creative abilities of the artist.

This has happened to me for example, when I try to create a new song, half of the time I have an idea I’ve thought “Cool! Wait a minute…”, and then I realise that that melody was from a soundtrack I listened a year ago. Is it really valuable having listened and learned to all that songs or technique when talking about creating something new? I think it happens the same with photography. In my opinion is like wanting to build a castle with those wooden pieces games, if you have the pieces in front of you, you will build only with that pieces, but if you start with no pieces but you still want to build the castle, you’ll find something to replace them, don’t be afraid of not having the proper education or knowledge about an art, because in my opinion all of that is less important than curiosity and attitude.

What is also interesting is that if you can play a Rachmaninoff concerto you’re a genius, but if you draw a copy of a Monet’s painting, this is not so amazing at the eyes of another artist, to be euphemistic, so innovation is more or less important depending on the art we’re talking about, and I’m not sure if this makes any sense.


Leave it open

Some of you may use idea/sketch notebooks regularly to write down everything that comes to your mind and has value for you, ideas or sketches of something related with your passions.

Moleskine sketchbook

Ideas can emerge at any moment of the day, walking in the street, reading an article, talking to a friend… and it’s important to write them down at the moment you have them, because it may seem easy to remember an idea, but it’s not so easy to get it back, that’s what the notebooks are for. Some prefer to bring pocket-size notebooks everywhere, but I prefer an A5 size notebook, so I can’t carry my notebook always with me. What I do is write a note with some keywords in my smartphone just to remember what I have to write later.

Because of my noteboks’ size, I usually write in my room’s desk, but my notebook is often somewhere else, in my bag or a shelf. It may sound ridiculous but I’ve noticed (or at least happens to me), that I write quite more often if I leave my notebook open at my desk. Sometimes you don’t get any ideas until you pick a pencil (or a brush) and place in front of a blank canvas.

Also, I think it’s important to write only what you think it’s an idea (no matter if good or bad), if you want to write the shopping list or “TO DO” list, do it in another place, this will give more value to your notebook, even a little more motivation to get new ideas. You can feel the same motivation buying a Moleskine, but it’s the content what will make your notebook valuable. So if you need more ideas, no matter if you’re a musician, photographer, programmer, don’t just place the notebook on your desk, leave it open.