Fellow artists and designers may agree that to dip into your creativity you have to reach your "zones." I have identified two zones that I do my work in. The first zone is that state of mind where I'm oblivious to everything else around me that distracts from my inspiration or my creative thought process. In this zone is where I organize ideas and plan a project. The second zone is mechanical, where ideas are executed. Ideas have already been formulated ... I just have to physically assemble the pieces and pause once in a while to step back and make sure the work is progressing as planned.
For myself, the first zone can't have music. Music is like a crying baby during the planning stages of any project. While I'm taking notes, sketching, or arranging a draft layout, I'm already susceptible to distractions. My environment affects this planning process, and that considered — music would be a catalyst to any influence that I seek to avoid while I'm brainstorming. A pencil, pad of paper and some coffee is all I need to achieve my zone.
The second zone is an entirely different situation ... The music is most welcome, especially when a deadline is looming over my head. I'm producing ... done with the major thinking. I'm the machine, and the music is driving me to the completion of my project. Depending on what I'm working on, I could listen to almost anything from big band, techno, industrial or 80s (no country or rap please). When I'm pressured by deadlines or the project has been a beast, I go harder ... the music turns me into charging rhino. Everything else is great for keeping my pace steady, although I have to be careful with the 80s stuff (I tend to sing aloud). At this stage, I'm not concerned about mistakes ... there will always be mistakes. A designer that's bored working on a monotonous layout will make mistakes. That's what proofs are for ... and sometimes, you make "perfect" mistakes, but that's for another post.
That said, I don't like buds shoved in my ears. At the office, I plug in only for deadlines when I'm so annoyed that the ear buds don't bother me. At my home studio, the gloves are off ...
My preferred "Zone" soundtrack:
- Any 80s pop, "big band" era and even gothic songs are easy to listen to and have fun with while working. I'll work to Cole Porter, Sisters of Mercy and Flock of Seagulls just the same.
- Techno and electro (Switchblade Symphony, Curve and Thrill Kill Kult are favorites) keeps my work going at a constant pace.
- Harder techno and industrial music is reserved for deadlines. Ministry, Frontline Assembly and NiN would just throw me off if I listened to them while not time crunching.
- The only exception to my NO COUNTRY would be Kenny Rogers ... The Gambler and Lucille are just too catchy. I'm not kidding.