Whilst it wouldn’t be completely accurate to say that I’m totally out of date when it comes to modern culture (eg: films, games, books etc..), I’m probably at least slightly out of date with large parts of it. Sometimes, this has been for financial or practical reasons but, over time, it’s also kind of turned into something of a choice too.
But, I’m also something of a creative person. So, you might ask, why aren’t you up to date with current culture and interacting with it? Why aren’t you keeping up with developments in comics, art, film, fiction etc..?
Well, here are some of the advantages of not being totally up to date with current culture if you’re a creative person:
1) Imagination: Simply put, being slightly out of date with current culture is good for your imagination in all sorts of ways. First of all, it means that you have to actively search for inspirations rather than just being inspired by whatever is “in” at the moment. If a topic or a genre interests you, then you have to actually go looking for things in that genre that will inspire you. This generally means that you have to have a better understanding of how your imagination works, how to take inspiration properly, your own creative sensibilities etc..
It also means that, if you are an artist or a writer, there probably won’t be as many tutorials out there for how to make things inspired by the older things that inspire you. As such, you’re going to have to work out how to do it yourself. You’re actually going to have to study the things that inspire you to see how they “work”, rather than just reading a pre-made tutorial. As such, you’ll become better at learning how to do new things – which is an essential skill for any artist, writer etc…
Secondly, hearing about things that you probably won’t watch, read, play etc.. for ages can really fire your imagination too. And, well, using your imagination regularly is great for creativity.
Thirdly, if you take most of your inspiration from slightly older things, then you either have to work out how to bring them “up to date” or how to make something original that seems like it could have come from that time period. Either way, your imagination will get more of a workout than if you just take imagination from more modern things.
2) Originality: Whilst not being totally up to date with current culture might seem like it would make your work less original (because you’re being inspired by things that lots of people have already been inspired by), the opposite is true.
Being out of date with current culture generally means that you’re more likely to have a more interesting mixture of inspirations. The more different inspirations you have, the more original your work will be. If you buy most of your DVDs, books, comics etc.. second-hand or you have a computer which can only play retro games and retro-style indie games, then these limitations will usually push you towards looking at a slightly more diverse range of things.
For example, here’s a digitally-edited painting of mine that was posted here about 1-2 weeks ago:
The initial inspiration for this painting was a second-hand DVD of old “Jonathan Creek” episodes from the late 1990s/early 2000s. But, that wasn’t the only inspiration. Other inspirations for it probably include old episodes of “Poirot” from the 1980s/90s, “Blade Runner” , various comics from the 1980s/90s, old heavy metal album covers, this set of modern fan-made levels for a game from 1994 called “Doom II” etc..
Because there’s only a finite amount of old stuff out there (or old things within your price range), being out of date usually means that you have to look for a slightly wider range of inspirations. Which translates to more originality.
3) A different perspective: Not being 100% up to date with current culture can help to give your creative works a more unique perspective and outlook on the world. Because you aren’t being swept along with what everyone tells you that you should watch, read or play then you’re likely to look at things in a slightly different way.
A good example of this is probably the approach that an American TV show called “The West Wing” takes to political drama. During the late 1990s when it began, it was a modern, optimistic show for a more optimistic age. But, if you look at it today, it seems poignantly naive in so many ways. It’s about a million miles away from current politics on either side of the Atlantic. Yet, a modern political novel or comic inspired by this show would be absolutely hilarious. But, it’s an idea you wouldn’t have if you only watched modern political dramas.
Seeing how people viewed the world during the past can have an interesting influence on things that you create in the present. Whether it’s the bizarre mixture of optimism and cynicism that the 1990s had. Whether it’s how science fiction writers and film-makers etc.. in the 1980s viewed the future etc… Being slightly out of date with current culture can allow you to see the present day from a slightly different perspective.
Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂