There's so much to learn from other fields - any other field - that can be applied to an artistic practice. In reference to Jack White's favorite song, what DOES "Grinnin' in Your Face," sung by Son House, LOOK like? Those off-beat hand claps? How much of our practice can/should be, not only absorbing/reading/listening/watching information and fiction from other fields, but also doing? What about learning other skills? Is it a waste of time or does it inform a visual practice to learn to play the guitar or try stand-up or learn about botany and start an ambitious garden? Is there a line that can be crossed, when a hobby/seemingly unrelated education/practice just becomes a distraction? I played a minor lead in a musical last summer; I auditioned on a lark - it was fun, it did reduce my studio hours for six weeks, but it also triggered a painting binge for several weeks after.
Today, reading through Steal Like an Artist, by Austin Kleon, I was chewing on the notion of collecting influences, from a variety of fields, learning all about them, and then learning all about those that inspired them. (and the people that inspired THEM, and so on...) Of course artists need to immerse themselves in ideas outside of art; what is this art going to be communicating beyond art history, composition, and self? What metaphors can we learn from, as we move between fields of study? As great artists of history have often been multilingual, and children are taught instruments to create new connections in the brain, broadening our experiences is critical to making complex, informed work. So, what do upholstery, Larry Bird,and Steve Martin have to do with the music of Jack White?
In Jack White, I value the (hand of the artist and) passion for raw elegance. Intentionally doing things the hard way, not relying on technology or the best tool for the job, stripping it all down- kinda wabi-sabi. How much can I strip away in my own work? (Also, nice validation for never following accepted rules for materials and tools.) Experiment. Work hard. Got it.