The topic this week on The Creative’s Cauldron show, which I co-host with Holly Marie Phillippe, focused on how independent creatives need to follow their own hearts and not be swayed by ongoing trends in whatever creative realm they are active in (such as books, movie, gaming, art, etc.).
I’ve always seen it as a matter of genuine creation versus emulation. In following an ongoing trend, a creative individual finds themselves emulating a style rather than generating from within.
Inspiration is a different thing entirely. Influences are good and can help spark new creative explorations. The problem is when the creative person focuses on a popular trend or style to conform their work with the hopes of being more commercially successful rapidly.
What happens is that you stray from developing a unique voice, which is the path to getting above the white noise in a market that is flooded with content in the digital age. I term this getting a “signature style”, through which others can identify you as being the creator of a given work almost immediately. Guitarists can be identified when hearing a single riff or solo, a painter by the forms and techniques expressed, a writer by the word stylings.
A signature style positions a creative to be a trendsetter rather than a trend follower. This is where the creative can attain true staying power.
When a trend ebbs, it takes with it most of those who have bonded themselves with it, with the exception in many cases of those who were the original trendsetters. A clear example of this can be found in music with what happened in hard rock in the 1980’s. Those who were in the first wave, the groundbreakers, survived the big music changes in the early 1990’s when bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden swept through the music scene.
A lot of bands who had grafted themselves to the style of melodic hard rock in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s suddenly found themselves in an extremely difficult situation that in most cases resulted in them being unable to continue with their music career ambitions. A lot of them tried to emulate the new trends quickly, and did not fare well as they were identified squarely with the trend that had gone out of style.
However, the ones at the forefront of melodic hard rock in the early 1980’s, who set the trends, for the most part had a different path. While they did experience some ebbs in popularity, there is no denying that bands such as Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Motley Crue, and others were able to endure the shift in trends and today these bands can still draw thousands and thousands to their shows.
In our show, Holly likened this dynamic to a trend taking a creative person around a bend and out of sight, in regard to those who become consumed with following or emulating what’s popular. The creative in these cases bonds their image and platform to the trend, and they are at its mercy when it changes course.
The creative who develops their own voice and creates from the heart, however, stands the best chance at keeping to a path that will keep them in sight during all trends and phases. It is definitely something to keep in mind when tempted to copy or emulate what’s popular.
For my part, I encourage everyone to develop their own signature style, and be themselves, in all things. The creative’s path is a very difficult one, but developing a unique voice will help a creative to endure all the storms and challenges that are encountered on that road.
If you’d like to check out the episode of The Creative’s Cauldron referred to above, you can check it out at: