Art, Destacado1, , ,

music is creation: 11 artists and the music they listen to

Monday, October 3rd, 2016 | T: lamono

Music is one of the most powerful elements we share within our global society. Good sounds are undeniable, regardless of language barriers. Few forms of media are able to reach across wide audiences, and evoke emotions of happiness, euphoria, and a state of worry-free, like music often does. One of the most important qualities of music has been its ability to inspire creativity. As Dr. Michael Thaut, Director of Music and Health Graduate Programs at the University of Toronto, has stated, “The arts are the cognitive base for thinking in abstraction” . Though others may argue that music is not essential to a creative process, it does stimulate creative thinking. This form of art often helps artist to reflect deeper, internally and externally, in order to gain clarity and effectively bring their cognitive visions to fruition. Here are a few artists that find music especially helpful when they are creating artwork. T: Paris Patterson-Garner / Imagen de portada: Leif Podhajsky


1.- Benjamin Jean Jean

Benjamin Jean Jean is an artist hailing from the southwest of France. He has gained notoriety for his monochromatic sketches, which blend elements of precise detail and the melancholy of a Middle Age book of anatomy. His artwork has been featured on clothing lines, surfboards, tattoos, etc. He is also a frequent collaborator with RVCA.

What music (genre, group, singer, song, etc) do you listen to while creating your art? In which ways this music empowers you or helps you to concentrate? The type of music really depends on what I am doing, on what motivation or concentration I need; it goes from classic music to blue grass, passing by old Grateful Dead CDs, Can, Taj Mahal, Kevin Coyne. I listen to those when I need to focus or get ideas. Then I go to more lyrical French songs, like Alain Baschung, Gainsbourg, these allow me to concentrate more on the song than on what I’m doing. Then I turn to old French hip-hop, which is super different to modern-day hip-hop; I could spend hours and hours listening to it when I was a teenager.

What kind of music you don’t like at all? I would say electronic or pop music, though I do like instrumental or vocals.

Which are your upcoming projects? I’m recently participated in a group show called Advance, in Darwin, Bordeaux, France, with some other French artists, curated by RVCA .The exhibition was up until the 28th of September. I will be also doing a residency throughout all November at adhocPAD in Vienna; there I’ll be doing tattoos, drawings and many other things.


2.- Leif Podhajsky

Podhajsky is a graphic designer currently based in London. Not only does music heavily influence this artist, but also his psychedelic artwork is often featured on the covers and merchandise of musicians including, but not limited to, Tame Impala, Santigold, and Lykke Li. Podhajsky’s use of symmetry, patterns, and contrasts are as breathtaking as life under a microscope.

What music (genre, group, singer, song, etc) do you listen to while creating your art? In which ways this music empowers you or helps you to concentrate? I usually listen eclectic mix tapes all day; there’s something about not knowing the songs and the length that just works perfectly for getting in the zone. I love listening to a song that just blows my mind and then spending the next hour finding out what it was… I keep a spreadsheet of songs I find and add to frequently. I also really like long drawn out music for working, stuff with no vocals or really slow build-ups. I find it just lets your brain free itself from everyday constraints.

What kind of music you don’t like at all? Psych trance can fuck right off… I listen to almost everything, really, from black metal to flute music. Where ever the mood may take me.

Which are your upcoming projects? I’ve got a few exhibitions planned and some album covers due out soon, also a special virtual reality project, but I can’t say much about any of them at the moment… oh and something that will be in the Winter Olympics.


3.- Mary Jane Ansell

Ansell is a Brighton painter who describes her artwork as Contemporary Romanticism. Her blend of classic style and modern subjects has brought her critical acclaim, from the annual BP Portrait Awards to the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. She also personally recommends readers to check out BBC’s UK digital Station 6 Music, as it is her “go to radio station”.

What music (genre, group, singer, song, etc) do you listen to while creating your art? In which ways this music empowers you or helps you to concentrate? Music is incredibly important to me, in my work (there are any number of references to pieces of music in my paintings!) and in all aspects of my life. I listen from the time I wake up to the end of the day. It lifts my mood, gives me energy and focuses me in the studio, it also relaxes me in the evening, and I often fall asleep to music. Pretty much my favorite pass time, away from the studio, is heading out to anything from a tiny acoustic gig by a previously unknown singer/songwriter to a stadium packed to the rafters, a festival field in the sunshine, a classical concert hall or opera theatre and I am happy! I love such a wide range of music it would be impossible to list, and though I’m not skilled in any real way, I do try my hand here and there. My partner and many of my dearest friends are musicians, and we share so much of the language of creativity, it’s ebb and flow, joys and frustrations, the fact that the two, art and music, seem inseparably linked in a way that is wonderful and ever fascinating is inspiring to me.

What kind of music you don’t like at all? I have favorite pieces of music in almost every genre… there are few exceptions, for example the more experimental or discordant ends of jazz or heavy metal, but it might only take the right gig to change that!

Which are your upcoming projects? I am currently working on two major solo shows, one at Corey Helford Gallery in L.A., in June 2017, and then for 2018 in London, with Fairfax Gallery. In the meantime I will be exhibiting a new painting at the Corey Helford Gallery, 10th Anniversary Show, followed by the Women Painting Women exhibition at RJD Gallery, at Sag Harbor, New York, starting October 10th, 2016.


4.- Alex Kohanin

Kohanin is a self-taught illustrator who has become a master of the dip pen and India ink technique. He uses a mosaic of design elements and patterns to create intricate details that form a larger picture. Currently he is working on a project that highlights his meticulous design process.

What music (genre, group, singer, song, etc) do you listen to while creating your art? In which ways this music empowers you or helps you to concentrate? Music is really essential in my creative process and it plays an important role in my work. Music can create a certain mood and take you to another dimension, to another world. But for me it’s only in the case of music, not songs, as for me songs contain unnecessary information (words), which may easily distract you. I love to work best with classical music on. It’s magical. It brings out powerful emotions, both positive and negative. My favorite composer is Bach. His music is like a pill against cerebral chaos. I also listen to modern music. Ambient is perfect for concentration.

What kind of music you don’t like at all? I don’t like any kind of aggressive music. I hardly can imagine how one can create something in such an environment.

Which are your upcoming projects? Right now I am working on the series of Mandalas, which illustrates the stages of creating an artwork. It will be revealed soon!


5.- Kot Bonkers

Bonkers describes herself as a “a regular girl who likes drawing and doodling.” Her drawings and doodles are typically colorful, juxtaposing portraits, done in a Picasso-esque style. Bonkers artwork also features interesting quotes that can err on the side of positivity, or criticism; they can be satirical, or just plain blunt. Sometimes these quotes come from her musical influences, like Gucci Mane, whose iconic reminder of “Don’t get lost in the sauce”, is featured in one of her pieces. She mentions more incredible artists in her answers.

What music (genre, group, singer, song, etc) do you listen to while creating your art? In which ways this music empowers you or helps you to concentrate? I listen to all kinds of genres, depending on my mood. I can’t pick out one genre, group or singer, simply because I listen to whatever sounds good to me. I stumble upon new artists and tracks daily so the playlist keeps on constantly building up. Music is a part of my creative process and it helps me concentrate, it can inspire me, energize me or calm me down. It’s very powerful. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Robert Glasper’s projects (often collaborations with other amazing artists like Bilal, J. Dilla, Erykah Badu, etc.). I have also been replaying tracks by Grace Jones, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Moodymann, Shabazz Palaces, Alice Coltrane, Grover Washington, The Isley Brothers, David Bowie, Gil Scott Heron, SA-RA, Steve Spacek, Neneh Cherry. I loved the latest album by D’Angelo, it’s the perfect music to listen while working. I could go on forever, but I think it’s best to just mention some of the artists who have inspired me lately.

What kind of music you don’t like at all? I don’t think there’s a type of music that I ”don’t like at all”. It’s all about the right timing.

Which are your upcoming projects? I simply draw everyday. No projects, just a visual diary.

La música muchas veces ayuda a los artistas a reflexionar de manera más profunda para así obtener una mayor claridad y representar más efectivamente sus visiones cognitivas


6.- Wasted Rita

Rita is a Lisbon based graphic designer and illustrator whose work often features “life and human beings, the in-betweeners, and the all arounders”. Rita’s hand drawn artwork features her explicit, thought provoking ism’s, which read like a book of quotes a mom would try to keep away from her children. Though they are graphic, it does not mean they are any less honest or poetic. Take this one for example: “I might be a fool, karma ain’t.”

What music (genre, group, singer, song, etc) do you listen to while creating your art? In which ways this music empowers you or helps you to concentrate? I grew up listening to punk rock, Riot grrrl, hardcore and R’n’B music. Nowadays, pop and R’n’B music have a bigger influence on my work process, but somehow its results always come with a punk attitude attached. Lyrics are essential to this. I don’t really use music to focus, quite the contrary, since my work is a constant reaction to what surrounds me, lyrics function as a trigger to an overloaded train(wreck) of thoughts.

What kind of music you don’t like at all? If you ever want to banish me from any place, here’s the trick: reggae music.

Which are your upcoming projects? I am working on two solo shows, one in October and the other in November, one in Montreal and the other in Porto.



7.- Rubenimichi

Rubenimichi is an artistic collective composed by Rubén, Michi and Luisjo. They often produce surreal, refined portraits, laden with occult symbols (such as skulls, all seeing eyes, and geometric motifs). Their art is captivating to say the least. In addition to their portraits, you can see their creativity and dedication to detail in their ceramics collection.

What music (genre, group, singer, song, etc) do you listen to while creating your art? In which ways this music empowers you or helps you to concentrate? We have always listened to music while painting. It’s something that’s really tied together for us and which we cannot break apart. We listen to a lot of music, any genre, though it’s true that to paint, we need to create a special environment that helps us get isolated from the rest of the world, and we achieve this with a determined type of music. Vainica Doble might be our fetish band, it has been with us from the beginning, since when we first started painting together. There’s no painting by Rubenimichi where they haven’t been part of the soundtrack. We also listen to Nico, Yoko Ono, music from the thirties and forties, bands from the label Italians Do It Better (Chromatics, Glass Candy), easy going music that keeps us remain focused on the canvas. We also make a lot of playlists in Spotify, mixed compilations we listen to while painting.

What kind of music you don’t like at all? Honestly, there’s not a kind of music we don’t like at all. We are pretty eclectic and like almost everything. It’s true that there are some types of music we avoid listening to while painting, since it’s not the appropriate moment, nor the right type of music to concentrate. Though we can listen to it in other situations, but when we are working we need to create the adequate environment, hence we avoid dancing music, or any kind that is too loud.

Which are your upcoming projects? Right now we are focused on our most recent exhibition, “Sol Negro” (Black Sun), currently running in Valencia at the Plastic Murs Gallery. It has already been present in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. So it’s already time to come together and think about new topics and ideas for the up-coming exhibition.



8.- Rune Christensen

Music is just as essential to the artwork of danish illustrator Rune Christens as his vibrant colors and pattern making. Christensen’s signature elements of his characters — tattoos, balaclavas, abnormal body movements — stand out against his simple, pastel — sometimes gradient — backgrounds.

What music (genre, group, singer, song, etc) do you listen to while creating your art? In which ways this music empowers you or helps you to concentrate? I listen to music for about 8-10 hours a day, so I wander through many genres and artist, everything from Indian traditional, jazz, 90s NY hip-hop, indie, blues, country, electronic and much more. But among my favorite genres and artist, and music I keep going back to, is blues and country. To mention a few artists, I would say Howlin’ Wolf, John Lee Hooker, Robert Johnson, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Hank Williams, Sturgill Simpson, Scott H. Biram, CCR. A Sunday morning comes with Billie Holiday, Patsy Cline, Miles Davis. And maybe an all time favorite is Tom Waits, I simply just love his universe, and he seems to keep popping up in my daily choices. I find his lyrics very inspiring. Also bands like The National, Bon Iver, Fat Freddy’s Drop and so many more. I often listen to a New York radio station called Chances with Wolves, which I highly recommend. Music is a huge part of my life and art making, it’s hard for me to see art without music.

What kind of music you don’t like at all? Heavy metal, and the mainstream radio in Denmark

Which are your upcoming projects? A solo show with Fifty24SF Gallery in San Francisco and Urban Dawn Vol. 2 in Beirut with Galerie Wolfsen.



9.- Super Future Kid

The paintings of London based Super Future Kid, take you deep into her psyche and imagination. The landscapes, animals and objects that highlight her paintings often feature a cotton candy color palette. Super Future Kid also uses her artwork to make comic references to classic art and pop culture icons, like one of Sandro Botticelli’s Venus wearing a Supreme Beanie, or Snow White as Napoleon, in her remake of Jacques Louis-David’s, Napoleon Crossing the Alps.

What music (genre, group, singer, song, etc) do you listen to while creating your art? In which ways this music empowers you or helps you to concentrate? Music plays quite an important role for me to get ‘in the zone’ in my studio. I’m either streaming or listening to the radio most of the time. BBC 6 has some great programs over the weekend, and I like them as they often play weird and less well-known stuff. Their shows such as Stuart Maconie’s Freak and Freakier Zone, Iggy Pop’s Confidential, Don Letts, and Tom Ravenscroft’s Guest Mixes are amongst the most interesting. My favorite genres are quite broad and go from anything electronic (Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada, Jon Hopkins, etc.) to American folk and acoustic blues (Woody Guthrie, Mississippi John Hurt, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, etc.) or dub reggae (Scientist, King Tubby etc.). Then I also listen to stuff like The Doors, Neil Young, kitschy American country music or BadBadNotGood, which is more like jazz and instrumental hip-hop. So it kinda goes all over the place.

What kind of music you don’t like at all? Any kind of commercially produced music that gets forced onto you by radio stations can drive me nuts, especially when it gets played several times a day, every day. Its annoying as I know that they have such a vast archive of great music and then they play the same uninspiring, brain-dead, monotonous trash over and over. Apart from that, soul, R’n’B and, sometimes, funk, can really make me run away.

Which are your upcoming projects? I’m currently experimenting with some new painting techniques. I’m also working on a series of cloud and sky paintings as well as a series of Wild West Rodeo and Cowboy and Horse paintings, and I am really digging having my ambient electronics and country playlist running in the background.



10.- Marcos Cabrera

Cabrera is a graphic artist based in Barcelona that blends elements of the skate culture with that of macabre. He has an affinity for “monsters, zombies, screaming demon vomiting skulls that will eat your brains” and other creepy creatures. It’s no surprise that punk is one of his favorite musical genres. Though his art features morbid elements, he employs poppy colors, which energize his vivid artwork.

What music (genre, group, singer, song, etc) do you listen to while creating your art? In which ways this music empowers you or helps you to concentrate? I like listening to rock music in almost all of its variations, from the seventies until today: folk, metal, punk hardcore, industrial, stoner, doom… Sometimes I can listen to the same song for hours, as if it was a mantra that helps me concentrate on a specific task or process. Other times I need a diverse playlist as soundtrack, accompanying me while I draw.

What kind of music you don’t like at all? Reggaeton and all of its variations.

Which are your upcoming projects? I just finished a new collection of skateboards, I’m also working on some album covers, and immersed in the creation of a limited series of stickers that’s coming out soon.



11.- Joana Santamans

Santamans is a Spanish artist who features aspects of life in her work. Her paintings transcend the traditional genre of nature, as her work typically displays a mix of unnatural yet elegant colors, personifying animal subjects. Santaman artworks’ duality, of natural and artificial, is attributed to her background in the metropolitan city of Barcelona and the mountain community of Montserrat.

What music (genre, group, singer, song, etc) do you listen to while creating your art? In which ways this music empowers you or helps you to concentrate? Music widens my perception and balances my energy. It helps me find the adequate tone. But in general, when working, I like to listen to music free of dialogue that makes me float and can be present with me anywhere without invading my space. I love listening to celestial music when I’m painting, for example St. Matthews Passion by J.S. Bach takes me to paradise without spending a dime nor intoxicating my body with any drug; I often listen to Jordi Saball, the music the viola da gamba makes grounds me and offers me warmth.

Something I must point out is that I think that once you have entered into the sublime depths of classic music, is very hard to go backwards and content yourself with pop music, at least that’s what I have experienced. Jazz also seems to me that shares those universal characteristics. While I’m painting I often listen to jazz, the album Kind of Blues by Miles Davis gives me a refreshing sense of freedom. Nina Simone and Billie Holiday are goddesses to me when it comes to feminine singers, their voices have an incredible human sensibility… in general I like feminine jazz singers, like Amy Winehouse. I’m drawn into psychedelic music; the album Forever Changes from Love is amazing and I’ve played it thousands of times while working. I adore Damon Albarn, apart from considering him incredibly sexy, I find his creativity and sensibility fascinating, I’ve been following him since I was a teenager and he was with Blur. When I’m tired and falling asleep but want to keep on working I put on some hip-hop or funk, bands like De La Soul, or punk like The Clash and Pixies. I really like Prince, Bon Iver, Tweedy, Eliot Smith, The Black Keys, Chet Baker, John Coltrane, Anímin i el Petit de Cal Eril, and a long etcetera! I like so many different kinds of music that answering this question is turning out to be something really difficult.

What kind of music you don’t like at all? The music that is repetitive and catchy, which instead of widening your horizons, it reduces your cerebral capacity. I call this music “soul-less”, mega commercial, trendy, almost toxic, and which is sadly designed for teenagers, who are the ones that should receive all of our attention, be given the right wings to fly and understand the world in a more profound manner, since they are the future and are in a formation and nutrition phase to start being aware of the environment that surrounds them. In general I hate reggaeton, machine music and heavy metal.

Which are your upcoming projects? I’ll soon be launching “Vida”, my third illustrated book, which is the most personal, large and adult-like up to date. This time I’m working with Bridge Publications. It’s due to see the light of day in November. Amongst many other things, I worked on three murals throughout September, a really big one in an old restaurant in l’Eixample, Barcelona. The second one, not any smaller, in the garden of the beautiful new studio-gallery of the renowned interior designer Meritxell Rivé, and the third was in a house in one of the emblematic buildings made by Lluís Sert in Pedralbes, Barcelona. Quite an honor! I was really happy with all these projects since I had full creative freedom.



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