meandering creativity, symbols and emotion

Monday, July 27, 2009

What do beards, autotune and photoshop effects have in common?

Beards can be such wonderful monsters. Until recently, my friend and bandmate Nathan had one that was incredible. It was huge, cumbersome and exploded in all the right directions. As you've no-doubt gathered I was jealous and now that he's shaved it off we all miss it. Raise your eyebrow if you must but Nathan's beard was creative effort. Indeed it had a life of it's own and was a reflection of who Nathan was as a creative.

The other end of the beard spectrum is the Beard As Surrogate Jawline. You know the guy - you've been the guy. Gentlemen often use a beard to give them the jawline they lost somewhere 40 lbs ago. But is anyone fooled? Don't kid yourself.

What does this have to do with anything? Let alone auto-tune and photoshop effects?

All of these are perfectly legitimate tools or manners of expression that are often used to mask flaws.

It's extremely satisfying to rant against jawline beards, abusing autotune and the overuse of the emboss and watercolor effects! There is profound pleasure in asking, in effect, "Are you wearing that make-up or is it wearing you?" It's not lost on me. But I hope it's clear that there is something larger at stake.

As someone who aspires to create amazing things you have to be honest about who you are and where you're at. Whether it's your weight - or how good you are as a photographer - or how good of a singer you are. You need to be able to look at your body (or body of work) and give fair assessments. You need to temper these assessments with grace and kindness but you've got to look long and hard.

The tools above aren't the problem. They can be used to accent your work in some really creative ways. But when you use them to mask faults you are preventing yourself from taking the step that help you be the person/artist/whatever you want to be!

Once you take that honest look then you can move on. Will it make your art better? Maybe.

Wouldn't it be awesome if being honest with yourself about your crappy song transforms it into a good song? And I would love to be the guy to tell you that good news.

Most likely it won't. So I can't be the guy. Double-suck!

Being honest means you will have to do the difficult work of improving your craft - but if your goal is to create amazing things then that is good news. If you don't like the process of getting better you're probably not doing the right thing.

Of course a lot of very successful people like living in this self delusion. And if that's you - good luck, we probably operate in very different realms. For better and worse part of living the life I want to live is being honest. I love creating amazing things and being honest with myself affords me the freedom to succeed (or fail) at that.

1 comment:

  1. Good post.

    And in general I think infortunately (I don't know about beards) people use these tools almost entirely to mask flaws. Autotune the news and T-Pain are one thing, but Brittany Spears is another. Basically I agree :-)

    (your openid login is busted it seems).