We recently spoke with the Flaming Lips’ wildly prolific front man for The Fire Theft Project, the new interview series we publish on creative fire. Here are a few of the key insights we learned from the conversation.
Do your thing Instead of wasting energy trying to emulate the latest muse of coolness, Wayne stays focused on what truly interests and inspires him. It’s just a plus when it ends up being so well received.
Create all the time “If you’re creating all the time, you will occasionally get lucky and something will hit. If you’re not doing it all the time, you won’t notice when something hits, or if you do, you won’t know what to do with it,” says Wayne.
Make it personal Whether it’s a project spurred from a long-standing relationship or just something that seems super cool, go after the ones you can’t resist.
Let curiosity be your guide Always ask “what if?” and “why not?” and then follow the idea through to completion. You too could find yourself shooting laser beams from a pair of giant hands at a mirror ball.
Find freedom It may have taken an incident at gunpoint to open Wayne’s eyes, but figuring out what really matters is the crucial first step to unleashing your inner creative wildebeest.
No formal training? No problem Wayne fearlessly plunges into any artistic medium, always with interesting results. Inspired amateurs often find the breakthrough because they don’t know the rules exist in the first place.
Question assumptions If everyone is doing things a certain way just because “that’s the way they’ve always been done,” it’s a great opportunity to do something unique by heading in the exact opposite direction.
Go hard… or don’t “Some projects require a great deal of intensity or they just drift along forever. That doesn’t mean you need a tight deadline; the amount of time you spend is part of the conceptualizing,” he says.
Know yourself If creativity isn’t your thing, no worries. “Creativity is a characteristic of personality,” says Wayne. “I’m not saying that I’m superior; I’m just saying I do this thing and other people don’t.”
D.I.Y. or die From stage shows to graphic novels to feature-length films, everything Wayne releases has the inherently personal touch of the handmade—because it was! Grab a roll of duct tape and get in there.
Never give up “If you’re stubborn long enough, you’re considered ‘determined,’” says Wayne. “And when you’re determined long enough, you’re considered ‘bad-assed.’”