The Standard Method
In August of 2017, we published a short one-size-fits-most guided meditation on what we consider to be four essential tenants required when attempting to create so-called "good art." We acknowledge that this is – of course – a ridiculous premise, but there is something to be said for being audacious enough to publicly posit such a concept, we like to think. What we can say is that we adhere to these principles personally, musically and otherwise, and we have not been proven wrong yet.
These four cornerstones were quite accidentally stumbled upon in a span of about ten minutes one evening after a day of building out the studio, but picked apart over many months. In the end, we decided to just lay it out one night, print it, and call it a coloring book – because we have only outlined some idea starters, leaving it up to you, the humble artist, to fill in the blank spaces as they apply to you, individually or communally, as it may be.
The following is an approximate facsimile of the final printed piece. Use it well; or ignore it.
The Standard Method™ is a workflow methodology that yields satisfying and extraordinary results to the user, 100% of the time. We’ve assembled a short and guided synopsis of what is involved in working under The Standard Method. There are four tenants to consider when employing The Standard Method:
HONEST. CHALLENGING. TIMELESS. RELEVANT.
Being neck deep into an artistic endeavor and not taking these four characteristics into complete consideration will yield a product that is dull and easy, complete with a short shelf life. So here’s our version of the hard sell: “It really works!”
Read ahead if you’re ready to make the best version of whatever it is that you’re making...
So, I see we didn’t lose you after the prologue. This is very exciting, because you are about to embark on a journey of an as-of-yet-to-be-determined amount of time and endless discovery.
Anyway, so here we are, the first tenant of The Method: HONESTY. In order to light the lamps of possibilities along your creative path, let us begin by asking some questions. What is the true value of honesty? With whom are you being honest? Yourself? The listener? The tonality and editing? The main idea here, which an intuitive and sensitive soul such as yourself has surely already ascertained, is that being honest with yourself and others is certainly key in this four-pronged approach to making art. Or, in straight talkin’ words: People know when you aren’t truthin’ to them about who you are. But, then again...
Let us not turn a blinded eye to the benefits of, shall we say, sculpting the facts so that we may be necessarily captated as we perceive ourselves to be. That is to say, flatly and honestly (ha!), that there is a certain amount of value to be found in DISHONESTY – which is not to be thought of as an opposite and mutually exclusive value to honesty, but instead as a relative level which can help us measure the amount of honesty contained within any given piece of work.
If this all makes sense to you, turn to the next page; if not, meditate on it, but not for too long.
Okay. That’s enough of that, now.
So you’re ready to start creating with honesty. That’s great news. Now the second tenant of The Method is a little trickier to adhere to; for most, it may even be CHALLENGING. Oh, wait.
Making great art shouldn’t be so easy. If we really wanted it to be easy, we would probably be painting by number, or whatever the equivalent to that is – with whatever your medium might be. It’s important to ask yourself if the art you are creating is challenging, and to decide who it should be challenging for. Should it be challenging for you, the creator? In what way? Or should it be challenging for the spectator? Should it challenge you both? And for what reason? Maybe it’s been created with such honesty that it is challenging to create, and to spectate.
Whatever it is, it is important to consider this when creating your masterpiece, and to set your intention clearly. Without challenging yourself (or someone else) with your intent, what are you creating? Rococo fluff, we say!
Ah, the halfway point. We’re moving right along, learning a lot about ourselves so far, huh? If honesty is the foundation of so-called “good art,” and the ability to be challenging is the root cellar, then we may say that TIMELESSNESS is the ground floor. Any reputable and respected work that transcends the barriers of generations cannot, by an almost necessity, be bound by the limits of any fly-by-night, Johnny-come-lately trendiness. #trending work may provide an initial rush of excitement and jumping bean fans, but we can most likely agree that it will not yield the long-term satisfaction or sustainable impact we all desire.
And so, it becomes important to raise the questions of what creates a truly timeless piece. There are certain things that will always provoke the intended response, so why chuck them into the bin now? Study the greats, whoever they are to you! That one song that you always come back to and always feel something about since you were 12 years old – pick it apart. Study it’s pieces and put them back together again in your mind. Is it the simple, unadorned sound of the strings resonating in your headphones? Is it the insistent and uncompromising arrangement of a full orchestra (goats included) that keeps you up at night? BAH! BAH!
We all have experiences surrounded by music in our lives and if you break down the patterns and layers of these recorded compositions, like our forefathers and mothers did before us, we can take one step closer to having that same impact on another generation. Familiarity creates in all of us a sense of comfort and instantly draws us in even further, so that we can really invest – in an emotional sense – into the output of an artist. You want to be that artist, otherwise you wouldn’t have read this far!
But of course, there is merit in knowing when to avoid the standard approach (but not The Method)...
As much as we might wish it is still the summer of 1967, it isn’t. The golden age of whatever has come and gone, and the dust has settled. It is now the present, and you only have the current time to create in. While being honest with ourselves, and challenging ourselves to do our best work, and also seeking to make something that will stand the test of time long after we are gone, we must also consider the man of today. The today man. TODAY, man! Ya gotta be RELEVANT, for [insert your preferred deity, etc. here]’s sake.
What is happening to you right now that might be relatable to someone who could appreciate your art today? This is an important tenant of The Method, and sometimes the most forgotten. It’s easy to slip into your inspirations a little too deeply and be guided by THEIR inspirations. Ever heard that hot band from the ‘90s The Copy Cats? Me neither.
Do something that is now. New! Let’s hear something urgent, and let’s hear it “with the quickness.” That’s a phrase I heard the other day. See what I did there?
Well, it looks like we’re out of pages, but we’d like to personally wish you the most fulfilling journey to wherever it is you want to go. We hope that The Method might provide you with some good company as you travel there. xx
Wow, you made it to the back cover We really do appreciate that! If you’re picking up what we’re laying down in this humble guide, drop us a line and let’s hang out, maybe have a nice dinner, maybe even make a record, just throwing that out there. Alternatively, if you think we’re FOOLS (like a scorned Beethoven defending parallel fifths during their era of harmonic prohibition), you are free do that. Also, we do design & all that stuff, too, so don’t be shy about getting in touch about that.
Alright now, you folks be good out there!