Besides being a renowned rock star and painter, Peter has another very unique talent; he inspires people to be the best version of themselves that they can possibly be. He has channeled that talent into his new business, Big Muse, through which he uses song-writing to inspire creativity and communication. Peter is a really deep thinker and fast processor, taking in information and feelings at a rapid speed, and discussing them in a very funny, yet eloquent manner. I just spent a week with him in New Mexico at a creative retreat, and one of the things we discussed is the creative process. I'm sure you'll enjoy his thoughtfulness and honesty as much as I do.
Peter's Creative Process :
First, think about the most creative thing you have made or are most proud of. Since you asked, I've got to say I'm most proud of my marriage and my four children. I'm aware that you might have been referring to things like art and music, I get that, and we can discuss those things as well, but since you used the terms 'most proud' and 'creative things' in one sentence, it brought me to this global place. The art, the music, the businesses we create, they’re all wonderful no doubt, but it seems to me that the urge, the compelling reason we have for creating in the first place (whether we're conscious of it or not) is to somehow be imitative of actual Creation - with a capital C. Actual creation being; making something from nothing. The closest we can get to that might be as parents. The fruits of our creativity, being able to reproduce infinitely (through our progeny) is a thing very close to the way one might suppose God creates.
When you create something, do you follow a linear path? Non linear? is it fluid and organic or planned out? chaotic or organized? If I were to talk briefly about my 'process' or if one were to observe it, it might look very messy, very chaotic. The truth is that it's a combination of highly structured, dogmatic principles in concert with a dreamy, evanescent, mindlessness. There's a plan - but it's nascent - or it's just barely felt. I then use my concrete skill sets (whatever they might be and at what ever stage of development they might be at) to chase the idea down fully and make it manifest.
How does time affect your process? Is your process fast or slow? I
tend to work very fast at least initially. The germ of the idea, the conception
of it, is very quick. Funny how the words - conception, gestation, seminal
idea, birth of an idea - all relate so easily to the human birth experience. I
might take quite a while to see whatever it is I’m working on into its final
shape or sound though.
Do you remember how you made things when you were young ? Has your method of creating changed or evolved over time? No, my process hasn't changed much at all. When I was a kid I created this whole universe called Glirchville. They were these monsters that I made. I’d first put down random shapes on paper - random snouts or noses I guess, and then fill in the details like eyes and teeth and claws. I had a whole parallel universe going on in the kitchen. My mom thought it was great and nothing was better than when she'd put a Glirch or two up on the refrigerator.
Where or when do you feel most creative? I need to feel good physically to get in the mood. I think that getting over a depressing period, where I’m just at that moment when the sun is cracking through again, is the most auspicious working condition for me.
What environment did you grow up in that helped foster your creativity? I was third of four kids. My older sister got attention because she was the oldest, my older brother got attention because he was the oldest boy and my younger sister got attention because she was the baby. For me, getting noticed meant I had to be skillful and smart, had to create something wonderful. I'm not sure if this was just something I picked up on own (my parents were both very supportive) it may well have been something I just imbibed and called - my problem. Nevertheless, 'need' made me be become creative. It still does.
Where does the initial seed come from? Like I just mentioned, I think it's a will to survive. There's some desperation there. I don't imagine it's all fun and games. There's something deep in the limbic brain that says: in order to survive you must do something brilliant - or else. It's the 'or else, that's so fu&ing motivating.
You create both music and art, when and why do you choose one medium over the other? I have more developed skills in music but I think both in terms of the aural and the visual equally as much. The one area where I feel I have a particularly developed skill-set, and it's kind of a joke when I say it, is as cook. I love to cook and I'm very good at it. In my mind, and excuse me for not being able to articulate all the 'connections,' the cooking and the art and the music are all really coming from one place.
When do you create at your optimal level? When I'm showing off for people. Just being transparent. When I know someone is waiting for something I will create - or has paid for something, as in a commission, I tend to do my best work. You see, my fearful inner-critic has been assured by the patron’s pre-existing support and I feel emboldened to create in a more fearless manner.
What do you do to push yourself to dig deeper and go past your comfort zone? Need, financial and otherwise often tends to push me in a deeper direction. The circle is looks like this - and you can imagine these words in the round: fear - inspiration - deep engagement - productivity - satisfaction - display/marketing - malaise - stasis - fear…
Click on the above video to watch a very touching and moving interview by his son, Isaac.
Whose creative process are you curious about? I'd love to have been able to spend some time with Thomas Edison in his workshop. From what I've read, he seemed to possess this incredible, childlike enthusiasm for creating. I imagine he was tremendously unencumbered by the fears that keep most of us tied to the status quo. I'll bet he was hilarious too.