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Podcast: The Spark & The Art

142 - Art as a secondary power

Category: Arts and Design
Publish Date: 2017-04-13 23:38:26
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Hello and welcome to the The Spark & The Art creativity podcast. Thank you for subscribing to our weekly podcast, where we alternate between interviews with creative folks from all different career levels and insight and inspiration episodes. All with the intention you’ll get what you need to get your creative projects started and, more importantly, finished.

I’m your host Tucker and this week is about using your talents for other purposes. 

I'm not really sure how to describe this. Super power seems like it would be the main power but what is it when your power isn't the main thing? What if you are a brain scientist who wants to talk about brain donation and your audience starts to get uncomfortable. What if you have a cool role-playing podcast and need incidental music to  enhance the mood?

These are two of the people I'll be talking about today. 

First let's talk about The Adventure Zone. The adventure zone is a great role-playing podcast bases on Dungeons and Dragons where the host creates a story arc for the players. The story just keeps getting better as the episodes progress. And that is the main thing. The McElroy brothers and their dad have a series of podcasts that they create. This is their main thing - podcasts. The get sponsors and are part of a large artist owned podcast network at Griffin McElroy is the games master for the show and has been using his musical skulls to enhance the show. It started slow and has been growing more and more as the show has progressed. Even using Japanese Vocaloid software to create a character of sorts on the show.  

Music isn't what he does he's not trying to sell albums or tour. Music is his secondary power but he uses it to fantastic effect on the show. 

In our interview with Chase Reeves we talk about how he has done music all his life but never really pursued it as a career. What he does do though is use that power to supplement his podcast by creating music tracks for TheFizzleShow podcast. Although to be fair that podcast is also a secondary power because his main focus at fizzle is to teach entrepreneurs about what it takes to get through entrepreneurship and build something worthwhile. 

So, now we’re on to the brain doctor. 

Jill Bolte Taylor was a Neuroanatomist or as she calls it a brain scientist for short. She got into the field because her brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and she wanted to understand how the brain worked and why her brother’s worked differently. She also worked at Harvard at the Brain Bank where there are more than 7000 donated human brains stored for research. 

I read about this in her book My Stroke of Insight a chronicle of her journey through a massive stroke that rendered her unable to speak or feed herself and the 8-year recovery she went through to get to the point she could write a book. It’s a fascinating book and I really enjoyed it because it’s a book about recovery and perseverance but also about the physical and psychological side of spirituality which fit nicely in my personal understanding of such things. I’d recommend it. I’ve put a link to her TED talk in the show notes for this episode. 

The part that struck me was Ms. Bolte Taylor was describing all this scientific and academic work in the brain sciences then just through this passage in.

"I realized that early on in my “Tissue Issue” presentations, the subject of brain donation would make some

of my audience members squirm uncomfortably. There was this predictable moment when my audience would realize,

“Oh my gosh, she wants MY brain!” And I would say to them, “Well yes, yes I do, but don’t worry, I’m in no hurry!” To combat their obvious apprehension, I wrote the Brain Bank jingle titled “1-800-BrainBank!” and began traveling with my guitar as the Singin’ Scientist. As I neared the subject of brain donation and the tension in the room began to rise, I’d pull out my guitar and sing for them. The Brain Bank jingle seems to be just goofy enough to effectively dampen the tension, open hearts, and make it okay for me to communicate my message." 

First, to my memory, she never mentioned previously in the book that she played guitar so that was a surprise. But second, this was her secondary power at work. This was her musical skill being used to soothe and entertain an audience during a somewhat squirmy part of here presentation about brain donation. 

She didn’t want to record albums. She didn’t want to tour. She didn’t want to get radio play. She wanted to get people to understand the importance organ donation was, and brains in particular, in the effort of human understand of how the brain works. 

This is what Emilie Wapnick talked about in here episode about being a multipotentialite. It’s the word she’s chosen to describe and officialize the Jack-of-all-trades or Jill-of-all-trades idea of people with multiple interests. And her philosophy is about using them all together to do your best work. 

All these examples are music related today but I’m sure there are examples of Motivational speakers that use their personal photography to illuminate their speaker slides. There are Yoga instructors that use their cooking background to augment their physical teaching practice with healthful recipe ideas.

Here is where you get to do some thinking

  • What is your why? Jill Bolte Taylor’s was understanding how the brain works and the importance of tissue donation. Chase reeves was inspiring and teaching entrepreneurs. 
  • What is your super power? Singing? Painting? Photography? Writing? Cooking? Parenting? Teaching? Geology? Math? Science? History? 
  • Did any of those strike you as a secondary power? 
  • Do you need to be or strive a full time artist?
  • Is art and creativity more important as a supplemental purpose? 

Do you know someone who feels like they aren’t getting anywhere with their creative pursuits? If you think today’s episode would be helpful to them to look at the reasons they are doing their work then I’d really love it if you share it with them. The easiest way to share is to send the short url and the hardest way to share is to think about nothing the but that url until it is coded into your cognitive pathways so that when you donate your brain to the brain bank the url will be visible in the physical structure of you cerebral cortex and your friend will see it when the weird picture streams through their Facebook feed one day. “they cut open this brain and what they found inside will blow yours.”

Get me on twitter @sparkartpodcast or come join our Facebook group with the shortcut url

Thanks for listening and remember: you won’t get the art without the work and you won’t do the work without the spark. 


- Links for this episode -

Griffin McElroy -

The Adventure Zone -

Chase Reeves - Chase Reeves 

My Stroke Of Insight TED Talk -


Total Play: 3

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