A few days ago Andy and I were interviewing Nathan Daughtrey, a musician and owner of a music publishing company. He gave a lot of great entrepreneurial advice, but one statement resonated with me. Nathan said he strives to learn as much as he can about his art. I strongly agree, because to truly know an art, one should investigate every aspect of it. This is especially important for arts entrepreneurs because each new piece of information can sharpen our thinking and refine our methods.
Artists tend to focus on the act of creating art, and I’m suggesting we broaden our scope to take a 360° view and examine the many ways art is created, distributed, marketed, sold, etc. To highlight this approach, I’ll present a series of blog posts to take a deeper dive into some of these activities.
In this post, we’ll consider implements used to create art—think paint brushes, pointe shoes, and saxophone mouthpieces—and visualize how they could have more or less utility by changing their attributes. The following example is from my experience designing drum sticks, but the approach could be easily applied to implements used in any art form.
In drum stick design, changing one element affects the others, which in turn affects the techniques used, the resulting rhythms and phrasing, and the timbre of the sounds produced. Percussionists prefer sticks that complement their technique, so the “right” combination of attributes can make a top-seller, while lesser-quality models cause percussionists to compensate by adjusting their grip or technique. Without going into detail, here are four elements and some attributes that are affected when designers develop a new stick model:
This is the basic shape of the stick. Changes in design affect the degree to which the stick bounces; the fulcrum; articulation, volume and timbre produced; feel in the hands; the amount of projection; and so on.
Weight usually affects the timbre and projection a stick produces, as well as price.
Drum stick materials and their densities affect articulation, durability, timbre, price, visual appeal, and degree of bounce.
Lacquered sticks and uncoated sticks feel differently to the touch, and there is also a visual consideration when selecting a coating.
By adjusting these elements (and those not addressed), some models will become more popular than others. What are the implements used in your art form, and how might they be reimagined to add greater value?
Thanks for reading,
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