Tag Archives: creative

!nsp!re – A Trip to the Getty

Several months ago, I had the pleasure of visiting the Getty Museum with friends. Oddly enough this was my first trip; and it certainly won’t be my last. A brisk winter day welcomed us with a cool breeze and slightly overcast skies. Sadly, it had rained earlier in the day and the gardens were closed so we concentrated our time indoors.

The Getty

We spent some time in an excellent exhibit entitled, “The Art of Alchemy”; a wonderfully curated space exploring alchemy and its relation to art and the everyday.

“The Microcosm and the Macrocosm”, Matthaus Merian the Elder, 1678

The Getty collection contains a number of stunning religious paintings, one of which I had never seen before – El Greco’s “Christ On The Cross”, an incredible, almost monochromatic take on the subject.

“Christ on the Cross” by El Greco, About 1600

I was really taken with a painting called “Entrance To The Jardin Turc” by French painter Louis-Leopold Boilly. Though my knowledge of French painters is fairly good, this one had escaped me. The light in this piece is what struck me.

“Entrance To The Jardin Turc” by Louis-Leopold Boilly, 1812

Another piece I was unfamiliar with was “Saint Sebastien Tended By An Angel” (Anthony Van Dyck). I love the use of umber and gray in this sketch for the painting.

“Saint Sebastian Tended by an Angel” by Anthony Van Dyck, About 1630

The museum was incredibly busy and it was great to see families and groups of friends enjoying the collections and learning about art, deepening their appreciation. I left inspired by new visuals; and am excited to return and explore even more.

 

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!nsp!re: Rules of A Creators Life

I’m still figuring out what I want to say on the proposed elimination of the NEA and the NEH. So far everything I’ve tried to write has come out as a string of expletives; which doesn’t really further the conversation. So while I sort out my thoughts on that, I thought I’d just share a quick simple post from Creative Something.

Now, I realize few people get truly inspired by lists; and the quick format often favors somewhat cliche phrases – but every now and then a quick shot of inspiration is needed, so things like this can come in handy.

My faves on this list are:

2. MAKE YOUR OWN INSPIRATION.

Totally agree. Don’t wait to get inspired!

7. SHARE WHAT YOU LEARN

This may just be one of the most important lessons in art AND life. Share your knowledge. Share your inspiration. Share your passion. Use your talents and gifts to bring out the best in others.

8. IGNORE THE CRITICS.

With this one, I disagree. You can learn from critical commentary or analysis of your work from a qualified, thoughtful individual. A better entry might be IGNORE YOUR DETRACTORS.

You can see (and download) the whole list here.

!nsp!re: Read These Books

I get asked, pretty frequently, to recommend reading resources for my line of work (entertainment live show design). Here you will find a constantly updated list of the books and I have found useful, across a variety of related subjects. They are grouped by category.  Enjoy!

Creativity

The Accidental Creative – Todd Henry

Art Before Breakfast – Danny Gregory

The Artist Within: A Guide to Becoming Creatively Fit – Whitney Ferre

Brain Storm: Unleashing Your Creative Self – Don Hahn

The Collaborative Habit: Life lessons for Working Together – Twyla Tharp

The Creative Fight – Chris Orwig

The Creative Habit – Twyla Tharp

Drive – Daniel H. Pink

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything – Sir Ken Robinson

One Little Spark – Marty Sklar

Start With Why – Simon Sinek

Steal Like An Artist – Austin Kleon

Taking The Leap – Cay Lang

 

General

Backstage Handbook – Paul Carter

The Business of Theatrical Design – James L. Moody

Careers in Technical Theatre – Mike Lawler

Digital Technical Theater Simplified – Drew Campbell

Stagecraft Fundamentals – Rita Kogler Carver

Starting Your Career as a Theatrical Designer – Michael J. Riha

 

Audio

Live Sound Mixing – Duncan R. Fry

Sound Check: The Basics of Sound and Sound Systems – Tony Moscal

Sound Systems: Design and Optimization – Bob McCarthy

 

Automation

Automation in the Entertainment Industry – Mark Ager & John Hastie

Mechanical Design for the Stage – Alan Hendrickson

Theatre Engineering and Stage Machinery – Toshiro Ogawa

 

Concert/Touring/Event

Access All Areas: A Real World Guide to Gigging and Touring – Trev Wilkins

Concert Lighting: Techniques, Art, and Business (third edition) – James L. Moody

Freelancer’s Guide to Corporate Event Design – Troy Halsey

 

Control/Data

Control Freak: A Real World Guide to DMX512 and Remote Device Management – Wayne Howell

Lighting Control: Technology and Applications – Robert S. Simpson

Practical DMX – Nick Mobsby

Show Networks and Control Systems – John Huntington

Rock Solid Ethernet – Wayne Howell

 

Costuming

Costume Design – Barbara Anderson & Cletus R. Anderson

Costume Design: Techniques of Modern Masters – Lynn Pecktal

Costume Designer’s Handbook – Rosemary Ingham & Liz Covey

Costume Craftwork On A Budget – Tan Huaixiang

Character Costume Figure Drawing – Tan Huaixiang

 

Design/Drafting

Autocad: A Handbook for Theatre Users – David Ripley

Computer Visualization for the Theatre – Gavin Carver & Christine White

Designer Drafting for the Entertainment World – Patricia Woodbridge & Hal Tine

Drawing and Rendering for the Theatre – Clare P. Rowe

From Page to Stage: How Theatre Designers Make Connections Between Scripts and Images – Rosemary Ingham

Fundamentals of Theatrical Design – Karen Brewster & Melissa Shafer

Scenic Design and Lighting Techniques: A Basic Guide For Theatre – Chuck Gloman and Rob Napoli

Showcase: Developing, Maintaining, & Presenting A Design-Tech Portfolio for Theatre and Allied Fields – Rafael Jaen

The Handbook of Techniques for Theatre Designers – Colin Winslow

Scene Painting Projects for Theatre – Stephen Shirwin

 

Electricity

Electricity for the Entertainment Electrician and Technician – Richard Cadena

Ugly’s Electrical References – George V. Hart

Wiring Simplified – HP Richter and WC Shawn

 

Lighting

Automated Lighting: The Art and Science of Moving Light – Richard Cadena

The Automated Lighting Programmers Handbook – Brad Schiller

Basics: A Beginner’s Guide to Stage Lighting – Peter Coleman

A Practical Guide to Stage Lighting (Second Edition) – Steven Louis Shelley

Stage Lighting Design: The Art, The Craft, The Life – Richard Pilbrow

Media Servers for Lighting Programmers – Vickie Claiborne

The Assistant Lighting Designer’s Toolkit – Anne McMills

 

Makeup

The Makeup Artist Handbook – Gretchen Davis & Mindy Hall

Special Makeup Effects for Stage and Screen – Todd Debreceni

Wig Making and Styling – Martha Ruskai & Allison Lowery

 

Rigging

Entertainment Rigging: A Practical Guide for Riggers and Designers – Harry Donovan

An Introduction to Rigging in the Entertainment Industry – Chris Higgs

Stage Rigging Handbook – Jay O. Glerum

 

Scenery

Stock Scenery Construction Handbook – Bill Raoul

Scenic Art for the Theatre – Susan Crabtree & Peter Beudert

Structural Design for the Stage – Alys Holden & Ben Sammler

 

Special Effects

Basics: A Beginners Guide to Special Effects – Peter Coleman

Sharing: “How Creative Achievement Eases Your Fear of Dying”

Quick share of an interesting article  on “symbolic immortality”, which refers to an individual’s creation of a lasting figurative relationship with life that shapes culture. It’s based on a study published in the Journal of Creative Behavior.

The article, “How Creative Achievement Eases Your Fear of Dying” helps explain why some people create; driven by a fear of death which is then somewhat assuaged by the art they produce.

!nsp!re – An Evening at MorYork

Text Tile Art
Text Tile Art

Recently, I had the opportunity to spend the evening at MorYork. It’s tempting to call it an art gallery (which it is) or a studio (true also) but a better description might be what Los Angeles magazine describes as a “modern day cabinet of curiosities” in this article from March, 2015.

Lighthouse Mirror
Lighthouse Mirror

Located at 4959 York Blvd in Highland Park, in a building that formerly housed a Safeway and a roller rink before falling into dereliction in the mid-80’s when it was purchased by artist Clare Graham, it serves as gallery, studio, incubation, and event space.

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The building, with high ceilings and wonderfully creaky original wood floors, is packed to the rafters with Clare’s work and collections of ephemera.

Floor Detail
Floor Detail

 

Furniture made from soda can pop-tops sits next to a display case filled with primitive carved sex toys. A whole series of art features stuffed animals sealed in plastic and bound together with twine.

An armoire inlaid with teeth
An armoire inlaid with teeth

Still other corners reveal furniture inlaid with human teeth, woodblock art, armoires covered in scrabble tiles, and display cases filled with animal skeletons and doll heads.

Skeleton and Vials
Skeleton and Vials
Caged Doll Head
Caged Doll Head

One enormous section of shelves near the entrance is filled with vintage carnival knock-down dolls while the opposite end of the space is dominated by a stunningly gorgeous lighthouse mirror.

Carnival Doll
Carnival Doll

It’s a mind-boggling, fascinating, and intoxicating environment. Added to the mix is Clare’s recent decision to invite music artists in to perform at MorYork. Alma Sangre (a trio with flamenco) and Edith Crash (LA-based French singer-songwriter) provided a lively evening during our visit, interspersed with drinks and munchies, all surrounded by this incredible collection.

Edith Crash
Edith Crash
Alma Sangre
Alma Sangre

The mix of art and music works, especially because neither is held up as being particularly “precious”. Clare’s work (which has often used recycled materials) is as much about craftsmanship as it is about anything. He’s an approachable artist who has a tremendous respect for, and love of, craft. That’s evident by his work on display at MorYork, and in the musicians that are selected to perform there.

If you’re looking for a deliciously surreal place to spend some time, I’d suggest taking a trip down the rabbit hole that is MorYork.

 

!nsp!re – Guillermo del Toro: At Home With Monsters @ LACMA

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Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the member preview for a new exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) – GUILLERMO DEL TORO: AT HOME WITH MONSTERS. The exhibit focuses on the artistic life and influences of filmmaker Guillermo del Toro (Crimson Peak, Pan’s Labyrinth).

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Costume detail from "Crimson Peak"
Costume detail from “Crimson Peak”

For those who have read his book, “Cabinet of Curiosities“, this exhibit is especially thrilling. In the book, readers get a view inside Del Toro’s suburban Los Angeles home (named “Bleak House”). The home is packed with all manner of unusual oddities, props, artwork, and collections.

Satan and Death with Sin Intervening by Henry Fuseli
Satan and Death with Sin Intervening by Henry Fuseli

 

Arm of Hosts by Dave Cooper
Arm of Hosts by Dave Cooper
Illustration from "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark"
Illustration from “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”

In this exhibit, those collections have been placed on view for the public; and it is horribly magnificent. The show is not a retrospective of Del Toro’s work; but a look at his influences and inspirations. In keeping with that idea, the exhibit is laid out thematically. Paintings, drawings, maquettes, full size sculptures, and more bring Del Toro’s unique visions into full relief in this exhibit that surrounds and immerses you into one mans fever dream.

A Life-sized sculpture of Schlitzie and Johnny Eck, both by Thomas Kuebler.
A Life-sized sculpture of Schlitzie and Johnny Eck, both by Thomas Kuebler.
Life-size sculpture of Ray Harryhausen by Mike Hill.
Life-size sculpture of Ray Harryhausen by Mike Hill.

The work of many artists is on display, and its easy to see where Del Toro derives his inspiration.

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Sculptures by Mike Hill
Sculptures by Mike Hill

Taking its inspiration from the tone and architecture of Bleak House, the exhibit is housed in an architectural shell, with long hallways that twist and turn, opening into room after room. The walls and other elements are in muted tones of black, gray, and blood red. The use of rafters overhead is enhanced by lighting that casts shadows onto the ceiling and surrounding walls.

One room in particular is modeled after Del Toro’s writing room, in which a perpetual rainstorm falls outside the “windows” of the room.

007The exhibit is truly wondrous. It’s a through and detailed examination of artistic inspiration and process. A good example is that there are several of his notebooks on display. Since they could easily be damaged by the public, all the pages have been scanned and patrons can flip through them virtually on a touch-screen adjacent to the actual notebook. It’s a great way of revealing the artist while preserving the work.

El Velo Negro by Pedro Meyer
El Velo Negro by Pedro Meyer

I have only two small quibbles with the overall exhibit. The first is that it appears to have been put together quickly. The finishes on the display vitrines are somewhat slap-dash, with visible paint brush marks and drips. One would think that an exhibit with this sort of “draw” in the marketplace would have warranted a greater attention to detail. My other minor negative comment is that I would have loved to seen LACMA embrace a greater degree of theatricality through lighting and video. The black costume from “Crimson Peak” is especially poorly lit, diminishing its detail and beauty.

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003Finally, there’s also a great book/catalogue that has been published in conjunction with the exhibit (Guillermo Del Toro: At Home With Monsters: Inside His Films, Notebooks, and Collections). The book goes into even more detail about Del Toro’s process, journals, and inspirations.

The exhibit is on view through November 27, 2016. Admission is free to members (which I highly recommend by joining here) or with regular admission ($15) to the museum.

!nsp!re – Creative Traits

I’m not certain that I’ve ever subscribed to the belief that “creative” people are inherently different. For the most part, I agree with Sir Ken Robinson – creativity is nurtured.

That said, this is an interesting read, about 5 creative traits that most people won’t understand. I think one of the more salient observations is that “creative people see the world differently”. Whether that’s by nature or nurture is debatable, but I do believe it’s true. When one considers the paintings of Jasper Johns, the writings of Roald Dahl, or the songs of Nina Simone; what they share is a specific and unique perspective on the world. I would posit that HOW we see is the key differentiator between those who are creative and those who do not consider themselves to be creative.

One of the questions I get in workshops is, “As a creative, where do your ideas come from?”. To me, it’s not a mysterious process: It simply begins with seeing, but seeing in a way that filters the field of view through my experience, sensibility, and aesthetic. The design work that then emerges from that process is my own; even though it’s informed by what I’ve absorbed through art, architecture, music, and design. But it’s also more mundane than that. Inspiration is, quite literally, everywhere; from the way the light streams through the breakfast room window on a December morning, to the way the tomatoes are displayed at the grocery store; from the striking layout of a beautifully designed website to the repeating motif of a pattern in a hotel lobby.

EVERYTHING is input. Is all of the input valid? Maybe not for the project immediately in front of me; but ultimately, yes, much of it will be. The moment a creative loses their ability to truly see (and feel, experience, hear, and absorb) might as well be the equivalent of an artistic death; because that’s where it all begins. The challenge is to continually maintain that openness; that ability to look at the world with “new eyes”.

That’s the challenge I’m setting for myself – to do ONE thing differently each day to keep my vision fresh. Turn left instead of right. Take a walk during lunch. Watch my favorite movie on DVD in a different language. You do the same; and watch how your world can change.

!nsp!re – Word Shadows

NOTA BENE Visual's "In Order To Control"
NOTA BENE Visual’s “In Order To Control”

I keep a long list of bookmarks in a creativity folder. These are stories or posts that I go back to every now and again for fresh inspiration. I love seeing what people create; and it inspires me to do even more.

Today’s share is from a story I bookmarked a couple years ago at My Modern Met. It’s an interactive typographic installation by NOTA BENE Visual titled “In Order To Control”. Spectators step into the installation to read the projected text content. The trippy part happens when their silhouette “covers” the words on the floor and transfers them to an adjacent wall.

What I love about this is the creative use of light and shadow, which work together to craft a different environment where the audience is encouraged to participate in shaping the art.

Read the full story here which features a video, allowing you to see the installation in action.

Learn more about NOTA BENE Visual here.

 

!nsp!re – 19 Daily Habits To Unlock Your Creativity

Today’s share comes from Katherine Brooks at Huffington Post. It’s a list of brief reminders/habits/thoughts from fellow artists than can help with getting out of a creative rut. Here are a few of my favorites:

#10: When in doubt, ask for help.

I’m absolute crap at asking for help, so this one is good for me.

#11: Find inspiration in mundane places.

This one fits perfectly into one of my core beliefs – inspiration is everywhere. We have to work hard sometimes at seeing it, but it’s always there.

#14: Let yourself be impulsive.

This one can be tough. Between deadlines and other obligations, we often feel we can’t just go off and see/do/experience. But every now and again, it’s creatively rewarding to break away from the routine.

I hope you find some new favorites on the full list.

future cre8tors – California’s Creative Economy

Today launches a new section of cre8tivity lab – future cre8tors. This section will focus on creative education and careers.

First up is a quick post to relate this story – the release of the annual study conducted by Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles. The Otis Report On The Creative Economy has focused its efforts on southern California for a number of years. This year, however, the entire state was included in the report and the findings are interesting (if not exactly surprising).

Though the industries that comprise the creative economy are not legally defined, the report includes data from various industries, from automotive design to fashion, to gaming and entertainment. It finds that these combined industries contributed $155,000,000,000.00 to California’s economy and accounts for nearly 8% of the states revenue.

These figures speak to the demand in this sector and hint at potential growth. That’s certainly the hope by those generating this report; to statistically detail that creative jobs are important to the state. Policymakers, citing reports like this one, can then make the business case for arts and design when preserving or (heaven forbid) increasing funding for arts education. Perhaps it can even be used to lure creative businesses to the state with the promise of a skilled creative workforce.

You can read the full report here.