DiscoverSpark & Fire: Fuel Your Creativity
Spark & Fire: Fuel Your Creativity

Spark & Fire: Fuel Your Creativity

Author: WaitWhat

Subscribed: 201,972Played: 986,372
Share

Description

Every creative work you’ve ever loved has a hero’s journey behind it. On Spark & Fire, you'll hear creators tell the story of bringing one beloved work to life. 

Iconic creatives — like Wicked composer Stephen Schwartz, Pixar director Domee Shi, comedian Patton Oswald, musician Wynton Marsalis, and novelist Isabel Allende — share the endless iterations, the inevitable setbacks, and the breakthrough ideas along the epic process of creation. But this isn’t an interview show. It’s a story — told entirely in the artist's own words.

With host June Cohen, co-founder of WaitWhat and the former executive producer of TED Talks.

Transcripts and images for every episode are available at sparkandfire.com

Sign up for the weekly Spark & Fire newsletter.

37 Episodes
Reverse
From the team behind Spark & Fire, we're happy to share the first episode of Offsite Adventures, our newest show uncovering the gems, magical moments, and unique learnings in iconic business travel destinations.Three minutes before midnight in Times Square, one of the most trafficked commercial centers in the world momentarily transforms into a vibrant digital art installation, providing a refreshing pause for locals and tourists alike. It’s called the Midnight Moment, and you won’t believe how something so unexpected came together. In this episode, Janet digs into the history of this unique collaboration between the advertising and arts communities before experiencing it herself with innovative, boundary-breaking artist Shahzia Sikander.Offsite Adventures is a Masters of Scale Production presented in alliance with Capital One Business.Special thanks to Jean Cooney and Times Squares Arts and artists featured as part of the Midnight Moment episode:  Artist: Shahzia Sikander | Title: Reckoning | Video by Tatyana Tenenbaum Artist: Nora Maité Nieves | Title: Eyes of the Sea | Video by Tatyana TenenbaumArtist: LuYang | Title: DOKU: Digital Reincarnation | Video by Phatt FeaturesSpecial thanks to composer Du Yun for music featured in this episode.See this story come to life in our video series on YouTube. Click here to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERpUrWKdCjESee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
There’s a commonly held belief that great creative work comes from pain. But comedian and writer Phoebe Robinson says that this is a myth. Instead, Phoebe believes great creative work comes from a place of joy. As Phoebe shares her personal story of writing her debut essay collection, You Can’t Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain, she draws on the things that bring her the most joy in life, whether it’s her Peloton bike, or her obsession with the band U2. Her joy is what allows her to hone her unique creative voice, which she describes as having “a lot of pop culture references, but there's also some smarty smarty pants stuff that's going on.” Phoebe will inspire you to tap into what brings you joy, whatever it may be, and use it as fuel to create — and have fun doing it.Content Warning: This episode contains explicit language.Go to sparkandfire.com/download to download Spark & Fire's free creativity guide and access 100 activities designed to fuel your creative practice.Follow along (with transcript and photos) at sparkandfire.com/Subscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Creative conflict can destroy a work-in-progress — or it can push your work beyond good to great. What matters is how you respond. We’re going to hear from 5 creators in 5 very different fields who share actionable strategies (and great stories) about how to recognize, resolve, and harness conflict to create work that is visionary.Featuring “Frozen” songwriters Kristen Anderson Lopez and Robert Lopez, actor and comedian Cristela Alonzo, choreographer Bill T. Jones, salsa legend Rubén Blades, and “Queen’s Gambit” producers Bill Horberg and Allan Scott. Listen to the full episodes that inspired this mixtape:“Frozen” songwriters Kristen Anderson Lopez and Robert Lopez: https://sparkandfire.com/frozen/ “Cristela” creator Cristela Alonzo: https://sparkandfire.com/cristela/ “Afterwardsness” choreographer Bill T. Jones: https://sparkandfire.com/billtjones/ “Pedro Navaja” songwriter Rubén Blades: https://sparkandfire.com/rubenblades/ “Queen’s Gambit” producers Allan Scott and William Horberg: https://sparkandfire.com/queensgambit/Follow along (with transcript and photos) at sparkandfire.com/Subscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
To make something irresistible, get to the fun part — fast. That’s how Exploding Kittens became one of the world’s most popular games. When cartoonist Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal) and game developer Elan Lee (former Xbox) designed the card game Exploding Kittens, they took fun very seriously. This mindset unlocked their creativity in unexpected ways: They transformed a Kickstarter into a wildly successful interactive game, and radically simplified their instructions so their players could get to the fun part faster. In their story, you’ll find surprising lessons for any field on serving your audience and feeding your own creativity.Get the transcript, photos and original game sketches at https://sparkandfire.com/explodingkittens/Subscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Behind every masterpiece — comedic, artistic, or otherwise — is a deep well of trust. Case in point: the legendary sit-com, Arrested Development. As Comedian David Cross shares the story of bringing to life the brilliantly absurd character Tobias Fünke, you’ll hear how every moment of comedic gold on the show was made possible by trust — trusting his collaborators, trusting the writing, and trusting his instincts (“Send the stunt double home. I can do that my own…”).See David Cross on tour: https://officialdavidcross.com/pages/appearancesFollow along (with transcript and photos) at sparkandfire.com/Subscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
This episode follows the composer Kris Bowers’ personal story about composing the score for the culture-shifting and emotionally devastating work When They See Us. This award-winning series follows the true story of five boys, wrongfully accused in 1989 of the brutal rape of a jogger in New York’s Central Park. The narrative spans a quarter-century, from the night of the incident to their eventual exoneration as grown men. To tackle this project, Kris let emotion be his North Star. Allowing his emotions to guide him led him straight to the heart of the story — and inspired a score that connects the audience to the characters.Follow along (with transcript and photos) at sparkandfire.com/Subscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Failure is a normal part — even an essential part — of any creative journey. But that probably isn’t what you want to hear after experiencing failure yourself. It’s easy to just want to crawl into a hole for a while. Today on Spark & Fire, we’re going to crawl out of that hole long enough to hear from 5 iconic creatives who have learned how to overcome failure to create something truly great. Featuring actor and writer Randall Park on Always Be My Maybe, novelist Ann Patchett on The Dutch House, songwriting duo Kristen Anderson Lopez and Robert Lopez on Disney’s Frozen, producers Allan Scott and William Horberg on the hit series Queen’s Gambit, and singer/songwriter Ben Folds on the breakout album Whatever and Ever, Amen.Follow along (with transcript and photos) at sparkandfire.com/overcomingfailureListen to the full episodes that inspired this mixtape:“Always Be My Maybe” writer and actor Randall Park: https://sparkandfire.com/randallpark/ “The Dutch House” author Ann Patchett: https://sparkandfire.com/annpatchett/“Frozen” songwriting duo Kristen Anderson Lopez and Robert Lopez: https://sparkandfire.com/frozen/“Queen’s Gambit” producers Allan Scott and William Horberg: https://sparkandfire.com/queensgambit/Singer/songwriter Ben Folds: https://sparkandfire.com/benfolds/ Subscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
When the ABC show Cristela premiered in 2014, Cristela Alonzo made U.S. history, the first Latina to write, produce, and star in her own prime-time comedy. But this dream didn’t come easy: Cristela had to fight for her vision at every stage of the process. As she takes us on the journey to making the sitcom, you’ll hear how she found her first opportunities by simply doing what she loved — which “accidentally” led to a show based on her life. You’ll hear how she fights for the show she wants, to the very end — and never waits for permission to chase her next dream.Get transcript and photos at sparkandfire.com/cristelaSubscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
In the 1990s, Aasif Mandvi was a struggling actor looking for roles that didn’t seem to exist. So he wrote Sakina’s Restaurant — a solo show about an Indian immigrant family who owns a restaurant in New York City. When Sakina’s Restaurant premiered off-Broadway in 1998, there was really nothing like it. In this episode, Aasif tells the story of writing and starring in this pioneering one-person play. Perhaps more than any other medium, a one-person show appears to be the work of only one person. But Aasif’s story shows it takes a number of people — who share your dream — to bring it to life. In order to break new ground, you need to find allies who see your dream.Follow along (with transcript and photos) at https://sparkandfire.com/sakina/Subscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Nataly Dawn and Jack Conte started the band Pomplamoose together in 2008. The band found success with their viral YouTube videos, which have hundreds of millions of views. And while we usually tell the story of a single work on this show, in this episode, Jack and Nataly share the story of the band itself. The story of Pomplamoose is one of constant iteration, which is a skill any creative can take into their own practice. As Nataly and Jack take you through the journey of Pomplamoose, you’ll hear how — through years of starts, stops, and iterations – they adapt what they make and how they make it so they’re able to keep creating — with everything life throws at them. You’ll see that in order to keep creating, you have to continually adapt your work to the conditions of your life. Follow along (with transcript and photos) at https://sparkandfire.com/pomplamoose/Subscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a creativity master. Many of us know him as an actor and director, but Joseph also co-created the collaborative media platform HitRECord. Joseph shares the journey of developing HitRECord: how it evolved from a single page of HTML to a global community of creative collaborators. Joseph’s story reveals that you have to take responsibility for your own creativity. Don’t stand by until an opportunity finds you. It’s in your power to participate, find collaborators you love, and share your work with the world.Follow along (with transcript and photos) at sparkandfire.com/hitrecord/Subscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
There’s an intimidating blank page. A blinking cursor staring you down. A looming deadline for a project you haven’t touched. Sometimes, starting something new is the hardest part of the creative process. In this episode, you’ll hear from 5 creative people in 5 different fields offering 5 different strategies for how to start something new.Featuring novelist Ann Patchett on “The Dutch House,” Pixar director Domee Shi talking about “Turning Red,” “Wicked” composer Stephen Schwartz, the designer Thomas Heatherwick, and salsa legend Rubén Blades.Follow along (with transcript and photos) at sparkandfire.com.Listen to the full episodes that inspired this mixtape:Novelist Ann Patchett: https://listen.sparkandfire.com/AnnPatchettFullEpPixar director Domee Shi: https://listen.sparkandfire.com/DomeeShiFullEpWicked composer Stephen Schwartz: https://listen.sparkandfire.com/StephenSchwartzFullEpDesigner Thomas Heatherwick: https://listen.sparkandfire.com/ThomasHeatherwickFullEpSalsa legend Rubén Blades: https://listen.sparkandfire.com/RubenBladesFullEpSubscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Stephen Schwartz has a motto for songwriting: Tell the truth, and make it rhyme. In this episode, Stephen tells the story of composing the Broadway musical Wicked. Not only does Stephen reinvent a beloved classic for the stage, he also commits to drawing out the universal truths — like the experience of friendship, betrayal, and love — that connect us all. This allowed Wicked to resonate with audiences in a real way, making it one of the most successful musicals of all time. Stephen’s story shows that when your work expresses a universal truth, the widest audience will respond. Follow along (with transcript and photos) at sparkandfire.com/stephenschwartzSubscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Felix Barrett, MBE, is the artistic director of Punchdrunk, a British theater company that specializes in immersive storytelling. In this episode, Felix shares the story of Sleep No More, Punchdrunk’s most famous and longest-running show. Sleep No More is a reimagining of Shakespeare’s Macbeth through a film noir lens. As Felix experiments with the production, he doesn’t get lost in the grandeur of it. He stays focused on the details: from finding the perfect abandoned building, to secret passageways, to the music playing in the background. Getting those small details just right — again and again — created a larger-than-life experience for audiences. Follow along (with transcript and photos) at sparkandfire.com/punchdrunkSubscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
When Pixar asked Domee Shi to create a feature film, she ran to her friend’s office and rolled on the floor with joy. It was a dream come true. But Domee had to learn how to own her unique creative voice with all eyes on her, which meant embracing her inner weirdo. As Domee shares the story of directing Turning Red, you'll hear how she commits to seeing her outlandish ideas through and surrounds herself with people who can recognize a great, weird idea when they see one. When Turning Red released on Disney+ in 2022, it immediately broke viewership records on the platform, showing Domee that her specific quirks were more universal than she thought. Follow along (with transcript and photos) at https://sparkandfire.com/turningredSubscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Finding the right collaborator, and growing together, is a creative feat. While songwriting duo Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez were writing the iconic songs to "Frozen," they discovered the key ingredient to a successful and lasting collaboration: generosity. Kristen and Robert offer insight on how to be a generous collaborator — from not walking out the door when things get tough, to offering space to play together. Being generous with your collaborator creates an alchemy that is truly magical. For Kristen and Robert, that meant writing songs like "Let It Go" for two of the most successful animated films of all time. Follow along (with transcript and photos) at sparkandfire.com/frozenSubscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Musician Kayhan Kalhor shares the story of composing and performing “Silent City,” his epic 25-minute piece for the kamancheh (Persian spiked fiddle) and ensemble. It’s a specific story about writing music to memorialize a devastating event, the massacre of innocents in Halabja, Iraq. But the takeaway is universal: When life feels too much to bear, create art that means something — for yourself and for others. As Kayhan takes us on the journey of creating “Silent City,” you’ll hear him find ways to bear witness to tragedy — and also celebrate the life that comes after. You’ll also hear how music-making, for him, is an ongoing quest for beauty, humanity, and meaning. Follow along (with transcript and photos) at sparkandfire.com/kayhanLearn more about Silent City on Kayhan Kalhor’s website:: https://kayhankalhor.net/albums/silent-city/You can hear the final movement of Silent City on Silkroad’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s804M9uGiAM See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
Deep in the pandemic, visual artist Mark Bradford began work on an epic series called “The Unicorn Tapestries.” It’s inspired by the iconic medieval work of the same name, but created with everyday materials that speak to Mark’s experience: comic book papers, caulk, and other materials from the hardware store, layered and glued and then scratched and etched away to create a tapestry like no other. As he shares each stage of his process in his own words, Mark also shares a mindset that every creative person can apply to their own work: Find what you need to fuel your creativity. Mark Bradford is one of the most renowned visual artists working today, working in painting, printmaking, video, sculpture, and installation. He was the United States’ 2017 representative to the Venice Biennale, and his work is collected by museums around the world, from LA to Hong Kong. In 2009 he was awarded a MacArthur “genius” grant, among many awards and honors. He is based in Los Angeles and is represented by Hauser & Wirth. Learn more about Mark Bradford: https://www.hauserwirth.com/artists/2838-mark-bradford/Visit the Agora Exhibition to see Mark's body of work in an expanded context, along with several other works from 2019–2021. And, check out Museu de Serralves to learn more about “The Unicorn Tapestries” premiere in Porto, Portugal.Follow along, with transcript and photos, at sparkandfire.com/bradfordSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
When Ann Patchett sat down to read through her first draft of The Dutch House, she realized she had made a terrible mistake. A wrong turn, on page 36, sent the entire rest of the novel careening down the wrong path. So what’d she do? Deleted it and started over. Sometimes, committing to doing your very best work means destroying it and going again. In her own words, novelist Ann Patchett shares the story of writing her award-winning novel — from the prolonged period of preparation, and the active defense against distractions, to the advice from friends that she took without a second thought. Plus: hear how she recruited Tom Hanks to read the audiobook.Follow along (with transcript and photos) at sparkandfire.com/annpatchettSubscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
What do you do when you fear you’ve lost touch with your creative voice? You let yourself feel it, and then open yourself up to inspiration. When comedian Patton Oswalt suddenly lost his wife, he also feared he would lose himself. As he processes his grief, Patton takes us on the journey of finding his voice again, through the making of two very different comedy specials: “Annihilation” and “I Love Everything.” You’ll hear how grief can give way to creativity — and creativity can forge a path through grief. With grace and humor, Patton recovers his voice by, first, opening his eyes to the world around him, and then, making himself available for the inspiration to come to him.Patton Oswalt has been a stand-up comedian since the ’90s, coming up in the alt-comedy scene. He’s starred in feature films and beloved TV shows like Ratatouille, Parks and Recreation, AP Bio, and King of Queens. His latest Netflix comedy special (and Grammy-nominated album) is We All Scream.Follow along (with transcript and photos) at sparkandfire.com.Subscribe to the Spark & Fire weekly newsletter for images, stories and creative prompts: http://eepurl.com/hkmyMrSee Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.
loading
Comments (18)

Hessa

It is beautiful to know that sparking joy is still the aim of many game developers. This was such a beautiful story to share!

Jul 22nd
Reply

Hossein Shahkamal

The story with the great presentation of the host is inspiring. I recommend to hear and enjoy from it.

Feb 10th
Reply (1)

rory gehman

Iranian I'm very proud of keyhan kalhor. https://www.krowddarden.net/

Jan 6th
Reply

Javad Shamsi Goushki

Our great musician and the best Kamanche player ever, Dear Kayhan Kalhor. Your in our hearts forever 💕

Dec 29th
Reply

Hank Veal

BTC

Dec 26th
Reply

N. Mirzaee

As an Iranian I'm very proud of keyhan kalhor.

Dec 17th
Reply

Best Zen

😲

Feb 8th
Reply

Okamifan1 Productions

how do I block a show from coming up in my feed 1/10 for shoving it in my face.

Jun 18th
Reply

Rodeŕick Gogal

lifes on peeps, stand and be counted!

Jun 13th
Reply (1)

Tobias Adams

Do Woo

May 25th
Reply

Burhan Lakdawala

Starts at 1:52

May 21st
Reply

Nasir Uddin Betagi

nice speech

May 17th
Reply

Jennifer Thompson

I love you Alex! I've been listening to u since 2014 and the King James Bible speaks what you speak! Thank You!

Jan 27th
Reply

mahan

slm

Jan 9th
Reply

Joshua Builds

This show is a solid 2/10. Just not my cup of tea I suppose.

Jan 7th
Reply

alireza alihosseini

Great!

Dec 24th
Reply
loading