Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Gwen Stefani on Creativity: Reality, Purity and "Truth"

This past Friday, Gwen Stefani released a casual 560-word ramble on creativity for LinkedIn Pulse. (For those opposed to the age-old high school tradition of the five-paragraph essay, Stefani's is six, with the last being a short conclusion.) In it, she discusses No Doubt, her solo work and her clothing line; in all, she espouses these three ideals:

Throughout my life, three constants are: I remain real to myself, pure about the project and true to my whole aesthetic.

The rest of the article aside, much of which deals with her issues launching her personal brands, these are interesting precepts. Here are how I see them playing out:

  • Remaining real to myself
    • This is something I value in every author and especially in myself. I make a point of avoiding extruded book product. (Note: That article discusses looking forward to A Dance with Dragons. How time passes...) As I always say, someone trying to sell something couldn't pick a worse product than art. Art has to be worth something even if it never sells a single copy, much to the consternation of people who have nothing but ideas for sale.
  • Being pure about the project
    • Trying to make a project something it isn't can result in a lack of internal knowledge of the thing the project wasn't but could be. Adapting a clothing line to a fragrance line, for example, invites the obvious question "How much do you know about fragrances?" A certain level of focus makes the project feel more cohesive.
  • Being true to my whole aesthetic
    • Stefani's explanation is that "By staying true to yourself and your beliefs through work, the overall process can be very therapeutic." Everything I write comes from the same place, whether it's drama, thriller, outsider fantasy, speculative, or thoughts on someone else's work. Maintaining a consistent identity regardless of genre or project is crucial. It's what makes something off the wall like Into the Unknown Bad Religion's prog rock album and not any other. More happily, it makes any artist's foray into a project grounded in that person's experiences, which gives that project its identity in the first place. Works don't pop up by themselves; people need to make them.
It's good advice, if vague and somewhat tautological. (How could someone who's being true to his/her whole aesthetic not be real to him/herself?) By the way, I think this is Stefani's best song.

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