My Creative Hero: Brian Eno

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CHEAT senior colourist Tim Smith on how the multifaceted musical pioneer and all-round creative thinker influenced him in his process and development
My Creative Hero: Brian Eno
Discovering the ambient opus that is Brian Eno’s ‘Music for Airports’ was a formative creative moment for CHEAT senior colourist Tim Smith. Ever since, Tim has taken inspiration from the famously collaborative musician and producer and channelled it into his work, grading in a similarly collaborative way.

Here Tim tells us why Brian Eno is his creative hero.

Q> Who would you say is your creative hero?

Tim> I have so many influences and creative heroes, for this I have chosen Brian Eno. He doesn’t directly relate to my work in a literal sense as he is a musician, but he has definitely been a major influence on my creative process and development.


Q> How long has this person been important to you and what are your first memories of meeting them or coming across their work?

Tim> Eno has been a huge influence on me since I was pretty young. My father was really into collecting his music and a lot of the music that was being made in a similar vein. The first time I really noticed his work was when I heard the first record in his Ambient series, ‘Music for Airports’. I had never heard music that translated a feeling and a mood so directly with such simple and minimal elements. He had tried to create music which was as ignorable as it was interesting and I suppose sometimes that can be very similar to colour grading in the fact that we try to make sure our work doesn’t stand out too far but also keeps the viewer drawn in to the piece they may be watching!



Q>How did you go about finding more about them and their work?

Tim> I suppose I went on a journey through his discography with other artists and his own material. Eno was a keen collaborator with other artists and worked with such a wide array of different people including Roxy Music and David Bowie to mention a couple. I managed to track down a lot, if not an almost complete physical discography of his work.

Tim (oblique strategy cards just out of shot)

Q> Why is this person an inspiration to you?

Tim> Some of the notes I have touched on above. The fact that he is a very keen collaborator really resonates with me as I think colour grading is a fine example of how wonderful work can be created via the art of collaborating with each other. Another reason for this would be the use of minimalism in his work. I think that simplicity is the key to producing the best work you can (obviously sometimes you really need to get technical with certain jobs), often I find myself stripping back work I have done to it’s bare minimum and working from that as I think it can be easy to overcomplicate things thus leading to what could be an inferior or overworked result. This isn’t always the case, but sometimes it can stop you from chasing your tail.


Q> What piece or pieces of this person's work do you keep coming back to and why?

Tim> There are a couple of works from Eno I will always come back to. One of them is Oblique Strategies. This is a box of cards made by him and a man called Peter Schmidt to help with any kind of creative obstacles. It was subtitled ‘Over one hundred worthwhile dilemmas’. They are cards with short statements on them and they can really help with the way you approach creativity. Some examples of the cards:

  • Try faking it!
  • Honour thy error as a hidden intention.
  • Ask your body.
  • Work at a different speed.
  • Gardening not Architecture.
I found these have helped me a lot over time and I always keep them close by.


The other is the LP ‘Another Green World’. It contains a wonderful and moving song called ‘The Big Ship’. This was the first LP aside from his ambient works I had heard and it is just a perfect album in every sense.

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CHEAT, 3 months ago