Davy Kesey: Be a better artist by being an interested artist

“The point is that you only have to understand your craft, and then apply another craft to it.”

Photographer Davy Kesey has spent the past three to five years building his craft by exploring other types; for good reason.

To Kesey, the goal of our work as creatives (from photographers and artists, to poets and scientists) is to capture a moment, tell a story, and invoke emotion. Which means the more interested you become in other mediums, the more you can learn about how to improve the stories you tell through your own craft. Kesey explains in a conversation I had with him:

“Early last spring I went to a percussion concert in which two gentlemen performed….one of the gentlemen rubbed a violin bow down the edge of different xylophone keys, producing a slightly-erie and lasting note each time….So I asked myself, how does that translate to me? I have no idea how to do ‘blank’, but I do know photography and I do know visual art. What could go in the blank?”


He continues:

Every medium is interconnected because it’s all pursuing the same objective: capturing moments….So I can improve how I do that by investing time into my craft, but I can also invest time in discovering how other creatives are doing it. We’re all chasing the same goal.”

If one of the primary points of creativity is to capture moments and convey a story, understanding the story we’re attempting to tell with our work and how we can ensure it’s seen, heard, or experienced, is the process we must go through in order to create longer lasting and more appealing work.

Kesey experienced this first hand when he took a fairly generic photo of a car beneath the New Mexico night sky. While the photo itself is captivating on some lower level, it’s the attached story – written in plain text – Kesey gave with the photo that he believes allowed it to spread across the web. The photo has since been shared more than 72,000 times.

Understanding not only how to capture moments, but to describe them with such humanistic prose improves the experience of the photograph and the story it tells.

Kesey explains another example where he was able to overcome creative block by collaborating with a friend. The friend would take printed photographs from Kesey and sew or embroider elements onto the physical photograph.

To improve your ability to be creative, you should find yourself interested in many diverse subjects.

Whether you’re a photographer who is interested in writing, or a painter pursuing jewelry making. The more aspects you combine into your experiences, the more fuel you have for when it comes time to create.

Like the musicians Kesey witnessed pulling a violin bow across a xylophone, it’s when we combine interests that new and exciting results are born.

Follow Davy Kesey on Tumblr.

This article is part of the Creative Something Footsteps series, exploring the stories of creatives from around the world to share insights and wisdom. Submit your story here.

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