The National Alliance For Media Arts And Culture Interviews Hank Shocklee

The following was originally published by NAMAC on August 30, 2012.

The NAMAC 2012 Conference, Leading Creatively takes place this week, September 6th-8th in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Join the discussion on digital rights, artist leadership, technology and innovation! #NAMAC12

NAMAC 2012 is thrilled to announce that the Founding Father of this Future Frequency, breakthrough music producer, audio innovator and founder of the group Public Enemy and the BOMB SQUAD music production outfit, Hank Shocklee, will be in attendance at our national conference to discuss issues of internet privacy, copyright, and the future of new media.

In preparation for this momentous conversation, NAMAC 2012 sat down with digital pioneer Hank Shocklee to ask his thoughts on arts leadership and arts innovation in the coming age.

You’ve made quite a career as a leader. And your website includes a beautifully written, inspiring treatise on the unparalleled role artists play in shaping human experience. What advice would you give to young artists who aim to become leader-innovators in their field?
Becoming well rounded is key. Just because you may have a specific talent or area of focus doesn’t mean you should tune out the rest of what goes on in the world. In order to be an innovator, you have to be tuned in to the world at large. You have to be comfortable with saying no, you have to be comfortable with not being popular or people not seeing or agreeing with your vision. That’s part of the territory that comes with being a leader or being ahead in your field so to speak: you’re always open to criticism. If you care about criticism, then you’re in this for the wrong reasons.

How do you help novice artist-professionals navigate the bureaucratic and fiduciary components of their work?
To an extent, as a creator, you can’t care about the rules. Creating is mostly about exploring new territory, experimenting and doing things that haven’t been done before and understanding what is missing out there. In order to create and formulate concepts, you have to think free. You have to be unrestricted in your thinking and technique. Once you are ready to bring your ideas to life, then you can figure out the best way to do that taking into consideration the lay of the land.

When you started out, the media industry was qualitatively a different landscape. Given your wide range of expertise and exposure, as well as your commitment to stay future-focused, where do you hope to see the industry in five to ten years?
I hope to see the rise of the independents. A future where it’s possible for people to be independently thriving and the creation of more organizations and distribution systems that can assist in the networking and collective power of independent businesses and leaders.

What do you most look forward to discovering at NAMAC’s 2012 conference, Leading Creatively?
I’m looking forward to seeing and hearing what’s on the minds of people who are actively creating, innovating, organizing, leading. Those are very important aspects to our culture and it’s important for us to be able to connect up at gatherings such as NAMAC, especially during this time when we are seeking ways how we can move this country forward through our art, culture and technology.

What projects are you working on now that you’re really excited about?
Right now I’m building what I call the Future Frequency. I’m in the studio developing music, visual, tech and art projects that inspire me to make use of the new technologies out here and hopefully will inspire others as well. Everything will be distributed through my online hub, www.shocklee.com.

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