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5 Podcast episodes to spark your creativity


From artsy interviews to hands-on conversations about creativity, here's a list ready for you to just hit that play button

Illustration: Maddie Fischer

Podcasts are such a great way to get inspired, discover new talent, learn, and expose yourself to new ideas. When you need a boost of creativity or are struggling to find direction, a well-produced episode can be all you need. Asking for recommendations can be tricky, though. Most people will probably direct you to a great podcast, but then you’ll find yourself scrolling endlessly through the episodes, trying to decide which one to tune into, before getting overwhelmed and maybe even giving up altogether. We're here to get specific! Here are 5 top episodes to hit that 'play' button on and immediately immerse yourself in some wonderful creative talk.

Listen if you... Feel a burnout creeping up and want to find inspiration in the seemingly simple act of rest.

Jocelyn K. Gley is an explorer of creativity, work, productivity, and the many ways these intersect and influence each other. Following the success of her newsletter, and her shift in focus toward slower living and working, Jocelyn started her podcast Hurry Slowly, dedicated to “how you can find more calm, comfort, and clarity through the simple act of slowing down.”

In this episode she hosts Jenny Odell, author of the book ‘How To Do Nothing’. Even if you haven’t read the book (it’s great!), you can guess from its title that these two are like-minded individuals who share a lot in how they view the world. The conversation with Odell taps into themes of time and creativity: cultivating open-ended exploration in the creative process; the importance of activities that can’t be optimized; and why truly taking time to pay attention to the little things is an act of resistance.

Listen if you... Just finished a big project and are feeling depleted.

2020 provided us with countless challenges, but it also left us with a few silver linings along the way. One of those has got to be the BBC podcast Grounded with Louis Theroux. It’s the first time Theroux—documentarian and journalist—takes on this medium, and what a joy it is. This episode is definitely one of the season’s highlights, with a guest from a similar caliber of storytelling and uncompromised honesty, actress, screenwriter, director, producer and singer Michaela Coel. Naturally, the bulk of conversation revolved around Coel’s TV series ‘I May Destroy You’, which aired during the pandemic to much critical acclaim. It’s an absolute intellectual delight listening to these two exchange ideas, and an inspiration to hear Coel talk about everything that went into the show. Coel dives into the creative process, dealing with the responses to the show, and the aftermath of releasing a very personal story out into the public. One of the most impactful moments is when Louis tries talking about what’s next and Coel replies: “I’m just grieving, I’m not even busy. I’m just sat here, running, walking, meditating. I am really just in that artist depression-y bit. I’ll be out soon, I just need to go through it a little bit.”

Listen if you... Need a reminder of the profound power of art.

The long-running BBC radio show turned podcast Desert Island Discs has a very sweet premise. The host, Lauren Laverne, asks public figures from all walks of life to choose the eight musical tracks they would take with them to a hypothetical desert island, in addition to a book and one luxury item. Scattered throughout with anecdotes that relate to the music, listeners discover the stories of the show's guests in unexpected, special little ways.

This episode sees Maria Balshaw, Tate’s first female director, sharing bits of her life, from growing up in Northern England to making it all the way to the top of the art world. As someone who describes herself as drawn to non-conformism since childhood, her unusual choices in life, fashion, and of course art, add up to a fascinating episode (with great music as well! You know you’re in for a fun ride when you start with David Bowie and end with Stormzy).

The way she speaks about her mission in making art accessible, and challenging the idea of creativity, makes you hopeful about the future of art and museums, even after this turbulent year.

Listen if you’re… Inspired by nature and need encouragement to get out there.

And speaking of Tate, this 2017 episode is an oldie but a goodie. At 22 minutes it’s a short and sweet listen. Hosted by Dolly Alderton, a tried and trusted podcaster, you are invited to join her as she travels along key points on the River Thames and explores their history through the lens of the artists who painted it. The walk is chronological both in following the state of the river—from 19th century sewage to the 20th century investment in the riverbank development—as well as the artists who lived by it and were fascinated by it. Included in this elite group of artists was Monet, who created his famous Thames series depicting the London fog, in no less than 80 or so canvases. At each point Alderton engages in conversation with curators, artists, or river enthusiasts, eliciting a strong desire in the listener to step out and revisit that little piece of nature that’s hiding in their own city’s backyard. Who knows what it will inspire you to create?

Listen if you’re… A politically-aware Gen-Z creative who still loves Instagram.

Katy Hessel is a curator, broadcaster, and art historian, focused on women artists. Her brand ‘The Great Women Artists’ includes a very successful Instagram account, talks, TV shows, and this podcast. The weekly episodes celebrate female artists, and in this particular installment she interviews the Canadian-American painter Chloe Wise. Their conversation begins with ‘Not That We Don’t’, Wise’s 2019 show which, in hindsight, turned out to be far ahead of its time, and in a very peculiar way. The show dealt with themes of cleanliness, human gathering, purity and sanitation, with several paintings depicting well-known brands—one of them being the hand sanitizer Purell—which only months after the show ended, became the most desired product of 2020 amid the completely unprecedented pandemic. Drawing on this eerie coincidence, they go on to discuss Wise’s style of painting, culling inspiration from the zeitgeist (while also being part of it), and the duality of being a Millennial who’s both a participant and a critic of her generation. Listening to Wise talk about America, consumerism, brands, commodification, gender and politics, while also owning her personal brand and digital identity, is a refreshing take on what it means to be a young, female creative in our time.



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