Read Nate Staniforth's Mind

Read Nate Staniforth's Mind

Reverb Into Fuzz

“I think on some level, you do your best things when you’re a little off-balance, a little scared. You’ve got to work from mystery, from wonder, from not knowing.” – Willem Dafoe

I have been making some crazy shit recently—music, maybe, or at least intentional noise. I love groups like ‘Sigur Ros’ and ‘Explosions in the Sky’ and wanted to see what would happen if I took a little time out of every day to explore that landscape for myself. I set out on this particular expedition about two years ago and still haven’t found my way home. Who knows where this will lead, or if it will lead anywhere at all, but for now I will say this:

For artists of any kind, the vision is always bigger than the medium you’re using to chase the vision. Stories are larger than language, music is bigger than notes, magic is more than the duplicate three of clubs you’ve hidden in your shoe in an effort to create a moment for the audience that feels impossible.

And in any effort to reach the ineffable through the effable, you’re going to run into problems. Each medium has its own limitations. Magic certainly does, but I also know that I can do things as a magician I’ve never seen anyone do as a writer or musician. So, every kind of art has its own advantages and shortcomings.

Here’s my point. If you’re a painter, learn to write. If you’re a writer, learn a good piece of magic. And if you’re a magician, spend some time thinking about how to do magic without doing tricks. Start a sketchbook. Or take up the piano. Or learn how to take good photographs. After fifteen years of hard work in professional magic, I’ve been astonished at how trying to tackle a new creative medium has allowed me to see new solutions to problems I’d abandoned as lost causes in my work as a magician.

At the very, very least it will keep your imagination lithe and pliable and supple and strong. It will push you off balance and force you to think on your feet. If you’re not careful, expertise can breed certainty, and certainty destroys curiosity. And curiosity is where all the wilderness and mystery is at.

So push yourself into new territory. How can you take the gift that lives at the heart of your work and wrap it in different paper or put it in a different box? What if you set out to share the same creative vision but forced yourself to use a different set of tools?

In this crisis of fear and death, worry and isolation, cancelled shows and empty schedules, give yourself some time to strip everything back to first principles. Get lost. Find your way again. Forget your training. Trust your instincts. All the technique and mastery of craft will never do any good without vision, and vision needs imagination, and imagination needs time. So now, even in a time of sickness and danger—especially now, now more than ever—take the time to dream something wonderful, and then make it real.

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  • Brett Barry

    Very inspiring piece. Thanks so much Nate. Since I have been through something like this before in 2007 and was at the front lines of that crisis, I can tell you that reinvention is a key to survival.

  • Bro Gilbert

    Beauty Nate.

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