(This story is sponsored by Digital Nod.)
Some of the biggest and longest-lasting music artists of all time are well-known for their ability to always keep changing. Madonna might be one of the most prominent examples, having been on the forefront of trends year after year, decade after decade.
“It’s in the nature of being an artist to keep growing,” says Senior, an up-and-coming musician. “Yet, artists perform that incredible balancing act of evolving and changing while simultaneously staying familiar and recognizable. That’s not something just anyone can pull off.”
Having a keen interest in all aspects of music, Senior has spent time studying the artists with the most illustrious careers.
Here are some of the things he found that helped them to continue growing, reinventing themselves and their music.
Cultivate a curious mind
Curiosity might be the thing that killed the cat but a lack of it can also kill. A distinct lack of curiosity has murdered plenty of music careers that withered due to the staleness and repetitiveness of the artist’s vision. One of the reasons why music careers stop moving forward is that the artist loses interest in finding new things to draw inspiration from.
Leading a full life and meeting and spending time with all kinds of people can help tremendously when it comes to strengthening one’s creative drive. Musicians come up with things on their own,—that’s true—but they also need the things around them to give them nourishment and artistic sustenance.
Whether it’s a new place to visit, culture with a new sound, person, or love interest, that search for something new, that curiosity, is at the core of growth.
Keep honing the skills
Every artist needs to be skillful to become excellent at what they do. Regardless of what people believe, creating art is hard work. It’s more than just stumbling across some inspiration and knowing how to do something about it.
Artists need to invest in finding inspiration. This is why they have to cultivate curiosity. At the same time, they also need to invest in being able to make things happen, which is why they have to keep honing their skills.
“Singers need to practise and learn how to sing, for example,” explains Senior. “They can become better at their art that way but they also become better acquainted with their voice, its limits, and the rewards. Going right up to the limits and staying in that dramatic, uncomfortable spot, that’s where emotional things happen.”
Study big names from all kinds of arts
What could a singer possibly learn from a drummer? What would either learn from a painter? Even though these fields are nowhere near in terms of techniques, proficiencies, and results, it’s still possible that artists can gain a lot from observing other artists’ practices.
Just like how art exists in a place where the particular and general coexist in a curious interplay that allows deeply personal experiences as well as collective ones. It’s also possible that different arts exist in a bigger space. That space is our world and the culture that exists within it. Inspiration can be a fickle thing—one doesn’t always know from where it will spring.
If you’re a singer, who’s to say your next great idea might not spring from a wonderful painting or a beautiful sculpture. So consume great art, no matter the medium. As an artist, you are inherently a part of the great, artistic conversation.