Ever been to a really hip store in a mall and felt claustrophobic, looking for your way out the minute you got in? 

This may have more to do with external factors than you think (that and the fact that you’re probably not in that store’s age range anymore).

And it’s not just because of the type of clothing they sell. It’s the way things are displayed, and how much of it is displayed. It’s the location of things, the smell of the store, how polite and caring the sellers are and what kind of music they’re playing. Yes: even the music. It helps to set the mood and will either make it or break it for you. It can make you feel welcomed or have you running for the door.

Hip Stores on the mall and Rocky Balboa - flavia bernardes art blog

Never thought of it before?

Do pay attention to it next time you find yourself anxiously sweating, looking for the nearest exit in a department store when you listen to something that closely resembles a tone deaf cat being strangled.

Music influences us more than we care to think about.

I’ve only recently started to notice how what I listen to influences the kind of work I do. It sets the mood and has the potential to put you in flow. You know, that state when you feel completely immersed in what you’re doing and energized by it. When you’re in your zone.

When I exercise for example, I like to have a playlist at hand that will make me feel like Rocky Balboa (don’t judge). I need to feel like I’m going to get my ass kicked, and that it’s going to feel good - even thought it totally doesn’t.

I need to feel like I’m going to climb those damn stairs and will be jumping up and down at its top, feeling exhausted and really proud of myself. I need motivation. 

And when I’m painting, I need to listen to something that will put me in the mood for that scene or character. When I was painting a series from the film “La vie en rose”, for example, I listened to Edith Piaf… a lot. It transported me to the scenes I was painting and helped me connect with them. It helped me feel what the character was feeling in those scenes. And I needed to feel those things. I needed to feel her losses. Her absolute sense of despair and loneliness. And I needed to paint those feelings if I wanted to do her any justice.

film la vie en rose

Sometimes I need to listen to something light and sweet. Sometimes I need something more energetic. Other times I need silence. And I need to paint that silence, that void. 

But I can’t think of a time when I was not influenced by what I was listening to. Even if what I was listening to was silence.

I do have my preferences (Joni Mitchell) and tend to gravitate towards specific genres and artists (Joni Mitchell), but I don’t have a specific one that I always listen to (BS - Joni Mitchell). Ok, I might have one… or twelve. But the thing is: music, or the lack of it has a direct impact on the work that we do and on our general mood. Don’t believe me? Think about the last time you took your dog out for a walk. You were probably listening to your favorite tunes, weren’t you? The world feels different when you have headphones on. It’s like seeing things from a completely different perspective. You see and feel things differently. 

So, next time you’re feeling stuck or looking for your way out of work that you actually love doing? Look around. It may have something to do with what you surround yourself with. Even the music you listen to.