Photo by piccadillywilson
What was the best gig you ever went to?
Stop for a moment and replay the experience in your mind…
How old were you? Where was the gig? Who did you go with? What were you wearing?
How close were you to the stage?
How did it feel when the lights went up and the band came on?
How did the singer look? And the lightshow? How loud was the band? What did they play?
What was the high point of the show?
Notice the goosebumps?
Now, if that’s how it feels to just remember something someone else created – imagine how it feels to be doing it yourself. I know – you’ve imagined it already, many times. We all have. Who wouldn’t want to be John Lennon or Blondie or Jimi Hendrix for a day? Who wouldn’t want to wake up each morning with the opportunity to create the next Ziggy Stardust or Blonde on Blonde or Physical Graffiti?
Bottom line: rock stars create amazing stuff. Stuff that shatters preconceptions and astounds their audience. Stuff that isn’t necessary or expected. Stuff they create for the hell of it, because they can. Because they can’t help it.
Everything else is secondary to the sheer joy of creation. All the money, fame, fans and glamour are mere side-effects, bonus prizes. (The trouble starts when people forget this.)
What makes creative work – the process, not just the product – so compelling? Well, to astound others you need to astonish yourself. Every real creator will tell you about the moment of surprise, when ‘something happened’ that took them beyond what they knew or anticipated – a flash of insight or an experience of finding themselves in the groove, when everything fell into place and became effortless and enjoyable.
No wonder Noel Coward said ‘Work is more fun than fun’.
For a rock star every day is a new start, a new game, a new chance to discover and create something incredible. Monday morning blues never sounded so good.
Have another look at the image at the top of this post. At first glance it looks like an unearthly supernova but in fact it is a massive steel sculpture erected in Manchester, England by the British sculptor, engineer and architect Thomas Heatherwick. It’s a stunning combination of vision and engineering and entirely typical of Heatherwick’s extraordinary imagination.
Heatherwick’s projects include an unravelling handbag, a staircase like a waterfall, a glass bridge, another bridge that curls up like a caterpillar, more gigantic sculptures and a Zen temple like a rumpled cloth. Terence Conran, who knows a thing or two about design himself, has compared Heatherwick to Leonardo da Vinci.
And the thing is, none of this stuff was necessary. People manage every day with normal handbags, functional staircases, concrete bridges that stay still and temples that look like temples. We don’t even notice the ‘lack’ of a giant sculpture in an empty town square.
When you think about it, we didn’t really need Voodoo Chile (slight return) or Anna Karenina or Blade Runner or The Waste Land.
That doesn’t stop the stars. They make it all to delight themselves and us. To sprinkle our lives with stardust.
Over to You
What creative masterpieces do you most admire? What qualities would you like to emulate in your own work?
When did you last astonish yourself?
How did it feel?
How does that feeling spur you on to future achievements?
About the Author: Mark McGuinness is a poet and creative coach.