Who's Influenced Your Work?

Who’s Influenced Your Work?

This week’s question:

Who are some people (famous or not) that have influenced your art?  How have they affected your work?

Beyond all the art I’ve come across in my life and all the wonderful artists and non-artists I’ve interacted with, there are a handful of people that came about with the right thoughts at the right time in my life:

My friends in high school who discovered their own music- I had always just listened to top 40 radio up to that point.  They introduced me to exploring music outside of what’s served to our ears everyday and curating your own music listening experience.

Ben Folds- I had a time-slows-down moment when I first heard a song of his.  His mesmerizing punk/pop/classical/jazz approach to piano playing made the piano cool and really opened my eyes up to the possibilities of the instrument.  My desire to mix the sophisticated and heady with the relatable and catchy was probably first realized in listening to him.

Allen Shawn and Nick Brooke- Allen and Nick were my composition professors at Bennington College and had a profound impact on how I approached my music writing.  At Bennington, the modern, bizarre, and heady were all put up on a pedestal.  I was a bit of a misfit for not being a misfit as I generally wrote tonal and pop sounding pieces.  Allen and Nick helped me straddle both worlds by exposing me to a plethora of out-there music while stressing that I stay true to my style.  They guided me in continuing to write catchy pieces while adding the skill of blending in complexities borrowed from all the stranger and more academic music.

Matt Hanna
Musician/Composer/Teacher/Ecommerce Strategy Consultant/Personal Coach/Lover of Thinking and Learning
Boston, MA

Miyazaki Hayao and Stefan Sagmeister are inspirations for my works. I admired Miyazaki Hayao’s reason behind his work which is to use a more relax tone to raise public awareness of different issues. His style of work brings happiness to everyone. If you go out and ask 10 different graphic designers who is their favorite inspirational artist, for sure you’ll hear Stefan Sagmeister. He is a very courageous artist who would do anything to achieve his goal. He also knows how to find a good balance in life; play hard work hard. One of the main reasons why I fell in love with typography is because of him.

Kitty Huang
Graphic Designer
Toronto, Canada

Who has influenced my art? I’m going to say the city of Nashville and it’s creative entrepreneurs.

In the past 2 years, I have expanded my resume from graphic designer to creative entrepreneur (co-owner of a beard + grooming products company). I also began working out of a co working space here in Nashville called The Skillery, which is filled with small business owners. Ok, one more…8 months ago I helped launch the Nashville chapter of CreativeMornings. If you have a chapter in your city, GO!

The combination of creatives I have met and worked with over the past two years have given me the confidence to keep creating, especially work that is meaningful to me. It’s easy to take that job with the mundane projects and steady paycheck, but this city has taught me to give things a try. It has influenced me to leave my mark on the world, maybe thru design or beard products or what is still to come.

Kristin Schleihs
freelance designer | creative entrepreneur | CreativeMornings Nashville: chief morning officer

Seth Godin has been my biggest influence. His books push me and his daily blogs keep me thinking. His consistency, his boldness, and his way of seeing the world all have challenged the way I do my work.

Some of my other influences include Malcom Gladwell, Dave Trott, the CreativeMornings community, Ryan O’Neal (Sleeping at Last), Jon Foreman (Swtichfoot), Dr. Seuss, Kid President/Brad Montague, and Gary Vaynerchuk. I love passionate people who aren’t afraid.

Drew Gneiser
Social Media Specialist at Feed My Starving Children
Social Media Strategist at CreativeMornings/Minneapolis

I’ve been influenced by many other artists, photographers, performing artists, etc…but below are the 3 most influential people in my development as an artist.

My beginning influence was my Mom, a prolific photographer, who urged me to use a camera as expression. She gave a Brownie camera and a Kodak developing kit to me when I was around 8 years old and taught me how to use them. She saw that I was troubled and extremely frustrated at school and needed an expressive outlet. This was at a time when ADHD, which I was diagnosed with a few years ago, was not recognized. She put a light on the path for me.

My most intense influence was Angelo Percoco, an astro-photographer and the father of a girl I lusted after. He had a state-of-the-art darkroom and took me under his wing.  I was 14-16 years old and he taught me how to use a camera as a tool, along with advanced darkroom techniques. His input was perfectly timed in my life.

My most artistic influence was Martha Everson, a Boston-based photographer who’s work is inspired. She was the first real photographic artist I knew personally. What she can accomplish through imaging is awesome.  Her input started just before my first exhibition, which was a very questioning, self examining and delicate artistic time for me. She showed me the escape from mediocrity. Though her influence began about 25 years ago, I still use her work as my high standard.

Chuck Baker

My father was a large influence of my art. Before I truly understood what an artist was, around 4 years old, my father would draw football players on large poster size paper. I would look at him wondering how he could create such amazing work with only a pencil. I knew I wanted to do what he did, I wanted to show him I was truly his daughter and make amazing artwork. Along with him there was my first art teacher in first grade, Mr. Columus. He did an artist test, which was telling us to draw a stick figure. If you drew the stick figure, with shoulders, elbow, knees, feet, etc. then chances are you were an artist. I remember to this day, he came to my desk, kneeled down, and told me, “Good Job, you are an artist. Keep doing this, and just bubble it up and put muscles on them.” I was happy, and continued to draw every moment I could.

There is also another one who I consider as one truly amazing art gallery owner, Fraser Kee Scott at A Gallery in the UK. He reminded me it’s about the art and also the artist, and that I should work on building my both aspects. Since the talk in one year I have been in about 15 shows, 2-3 publications, and 2 interviews. I find myself, pushing myself to do more, exploring and traveling. Basically many of my friends and family, have influenced my work, as well as my personal growth, and I am so thankful for all of them.

Paula B.

Who has influenced my work? That is a very tough question! I can’t really say that any one person has influenced me. Certainly my professors and friends who are designers like I am have inspired me and influenced me in many ways. Guiding me to grow and continue to learn in my craft. Also the people I have worked with have influenced my work as well. They taught me new ways of doing things and learning new techniques that have aided me to strive to create the best work possible.

I would have to say I have been influenced by James Victore. His work is unique and unmatched. His speaking engagements really have inspired me to keep doing what I do despite adversity and self doubt. I look towards professionals for inspiration where I want to ultimately end up in my career. I have always loved movies and just seeing the professionals specifically in the art department work creatively to make the movie come to life is amazing. I believe everyone I have come in contact with have shaped my work. For one, I have enjoyed more motion, interactive, and animation graphics over print. I hope to pursue those avenues closely as time goes on.

Desiree Zielinski
Graphic Designer
Scranton, Pennsylvania

As a games writer, one of the people who’s had the most influence on me is Stuart Campbell. Campbell has worked on various games magazines, most notably Amiga Power, which was a huge influence on me when I was younger. The magazine was a fairly unique among the gaming press – it was anarchic, ruthlessly honest and it had an enjoyably Byzantine house style that was packed full of in jokes (head to AP2 to unravel the myriad humour of the magazine). Stuart was one of the most outspoken journalists on an already anarchic magazine, and his reviews were always packed with biting satire or inventive ways to liven up the text, like doing the review in character or writing it as a screenplay. Reading AP, and Stu’s reviews in particular, showed me that the scope for creativity, even in the limited constraints of a game magazine, is unlimited.

Lewis Packwood
Games Writer
Edinburgh, Scotland

I find most of all the people that influence my work are those closest to me. I mean this both in the physical sense and the relational one. I’m constantly finding inspiration from coworkers as well as colleagues in the field, and I’m also typically inspired by people I know. I work with some very bright and accomplished game developers, and they are a constant source of advice and inspiration, sometimes in an unusual way. For example, the creative director I work with is a bit of a curmudgeon; I’ve worked with him for years now between a couple jobs, and from this I’ve become intimately aware of what he doesn’t like. He’s been in the industry for eons–was just labeled one of the top 50 game developers of the year–and he’s worked on everything from critically acclaimed MMOs to facebook and mobile games. He’s been around the block and he knows his shit. So, when I have an idea I want to spec out into a feature, or perhaps a simple level design concept, I’ll often run it by him before I set pen to paper. I trust his judgment more than most, and if he poo-poo’s it at an early stage it saves me time and effort down the line. Additionally, since I know him so well at this point, I know what concepts are dead in the water before I even start: “no escort missions!”, “don’t bury me in lore!”, “no additional currencies!”, etc., etc.

The other side of this comes from people I know as friends. While I have developed my own list of do’s and don’ts for the free-to-play market, occasionally a friend will casually mention something they really like about game x, or maybe they’re huge fans of a particular mechanic. While I know what tropes, mechanics, and themes resonate most within the freemium mobile market, features-wise I’ll often consider what my friends really like, particularly when they are avid mobile game players. I might not stick with it, but when scrubbing my mind for high-concept ideas to get off the ground with a new level or feature, these people are occasionally great resources.

Josh Hufton
Senior Game Designer
Cambridge, MA

When it’s just me and the computer my art is influenced by all of my past experiences. Most of my art is well researched writing about conservation and environmental issues so utilizing my experiences to bring people in on the discussion definitely influences my art. The more experiences I have, the more rich my writing.

My art is definitely influenced by my creative partners. My work benefits from experiences and collaborating with people. Bouncing ideas and topics around with other like minded and sometimes not like minded individuals, makes my art what it is. From close friends, colleagues to someone I met for fifteen minutes, they all add value to what I do. The best advice I keep close to me that influences my art, was given to me by someone I spent less than an hour with. After chatting about what we did, what we were passionate about and where we were going, he soundly said, “Do not lose your spirit.”

I’m also influenced by what came before me. Who has done what, how they did it and how successful they were in getting their message across. That means many writers have influenced the writer I am today. Their work makes me dig deeper into a story, find creative ways to look at the content and most importantly, never give up.

Naima Montacer
Environmental Adventurer
Dallas, TX

For me my work has been directly inspired by artists, music, history, architecture, nature etc. The individuals that have influenced my art have done so directly and indirectly. By this I mean their influence has help mold my creative process.

I admire Kanye West’s vision and how he approaches creative via multiple disciplines; Yohji Yamamoto; Edgar Degas’ artistic style and approach to colors and composition; and last but not least Miles Davis.

Julien James
Founder of byJulienJames Creative Firm

What do you think? Who has influenced you the most? Share your thoughts below.

Photo by Matt Hanna