Jack White on Creativity

August 15, 2012

I’ve come to appreciate Jack White and the White Stripes only recently…upon a viewing of the “It Might Get Loud” DVD, which also featured Jimmy Page and U2’s the Edge. Sure I’ve heard plenty of White Stripes tunes over the years, and I liked many of them. But watching him interact with Page and the Edge and witnessing his approach to his instrument and craft piqued my curiosity.

I especially enjoyed White’s take on creativity in the film. As you hear in the clip above and in others, White is a strong believer in restriction and little (or no) usage of technology in contributing to one’s becoming more creative. This may differ from medium to medium. But what comes to mind immediately for me, at least, is the overabundance of computerized special effects in movies. In recent years, I’ve found myself unimpressed at times when watching certain action films simply because I know the CG effects made things seem too perfect and almost cartoonish.

Earlier this spring, White released his first solo album, Blunderbuss. Like the DVD, it was fun to learn in interviews that White’s approach to recording the album was different this time around. One trick included the capture of melodies that popped into his head in the middle of the night onto a recorder. In the past, White would go back to sleep and hope to remember these melodies when he awoke…most of the time, he failed to remember them. This time around, he took no chances and recorded those ideas immediately…something he says resulted in two new songs.

One other way White approaches things differently is exemplified in his latest tour…which includes two different backing bands, one all-male and the other all-female. In interviews White describes his desire to capture the different levels of energy when playing with these bands. While it does sound a bit “out-there,” I’d have to agree with him that men and women can sometimes create a different energy whether it be in a room or on a stage. I’m not sure how this translates in a performance situation, but I’ll trust White’s judgement about creating a new and different vibe.

Whether or not you’re a musician or an artist, White’s unique approach to his craft is worth considering. What if you were to approach that project at work just a little differently this time around? Could your own unique approach to your job help you achieve different (and possibly better) results? Maybe the risk is worth taking.

He’s been described as enigmatic, a feminist and/or a luddite…whoever he is, I admire him for approach to his art. And while there may be plenty of guitar players that might be more technically skilled than he is…I have a feeling Jack White wouldn’t want it any other way.

How about you…how have you approached your work or your art a little differently? What were your results? I’d love to hear about them.

1 Marianne Griebler August 15, 2012 at 9:23 am

I am a long-time fan of the White Stripes and am really taken with Jack White’s new album, especially the lyrics in Love Interruption. I hadn’t seen the video; thanks for posting. It’s gorgeous. (But that’s not surprising, given the artist involved.)

One sentence sticks out for me in Jack’s interview: “Inspiration and work ethic … they ride right next to each other.” This summer I decided to develop a check list of content I want to write everyday, no matter how I feel about it. While it seems counter-intuitive, it makes sense, as Jack illustrates more beautifully than I ever could. How do you develop a body of work (songs, social media posts, paintings, whatever) if you never actually create anything?

What I’m trying to do differently lately is put myself out there more, be a bit bolder and also more forgiving when I fall short of my standards. Now, thanks to Jack, I’m going to be more diligent about note-taking when an idea pops into my head.

2 Tim August 15, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Hi Marianne:

Thanks for sharing some great thoughts here…I’ve got to investigate more White Stripes and Jack White music. I admire you for putting yourself out there…I sense that, like me, you have occasional bouts of perfectionism that can prevent you (us) from trying new things and expanding our body of work. As you touch on, though, it’s important to push through anyway. Related to this is a book from Steven Pressfield, “War of Art,” which explores ways to get past the things that prevent us from creating and pursuing those ideas in our head. Good stuff.

Thanks for stopping by with such a great comment!

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