By: R. Michael Brown
Most 8 year-olds learn how to write, draw, and paint by grabbing a piece of blank paper and just get started. Not me.
I grew up in Italy and in 3rd grade I found out how Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci started a creative project. They learned it in the Medici family gardens in Florence where they were apprentices.
The rich Renaissance family set up the garden as a teaching studio.
Student artists were assigned to master artists and the apprentices leaned their craft by copying the work of their mentors. The masters taught them to immerse themselves in a subject to learn everything about it. They studied not only the form but the history, stories, everything they could find out about a subject they were going to produce.
I call this “immersion therapy.”
The combination of immersion and copying the styles of the masters helped the apprentice learn the techniques of discovery, learning, materials, tools, and technical craft to paint, sculpt, and more. It helped them learn how to feel a subject and see it deeper from many angles.
The young artists found out how to visualize a story in their work.
Apprentices did this until they were competent enough to create their own style. They continued immersion therapy on each project but no longer needed to copy. They created from the knowledge and feelings they had about the subject and could tell stories with a painting or statue.
Leonardo da Vinci took it to extremes and it inspired him into engineering, architecture, and invention – well beyond art.
This model for learning and the creative process has been the most effective method I’ve seen or used for producing content – writing, illustration, painting, sculpture, video, film, and photography. Most of the best producers of content use this process to learn and continue it throughout their careers.
I use it every day.
The process helps especially in producing in-depth content marketing material like feature stories. It inspires ideas for creative non-fiction, not just straight, grind it out, news or marketing copy.
The Galapogos: Connect & Conserve. R. Michael Brown, Writer & Producer. Picked up by Discovery Channel International.
My story in the Galapagos Islands is a modern day example of “immersion therapy” to produce the story. My cameraman Abdiel Vivancos, audio Frankie Linero, and I were there for 2 weeks getting aerials, chartering boats, hiking mountains. But I studied the islands and project for 3 months in pre-production, plus worked with Equador government agencies, before going. The islands don’t have electric power…. interesting logistics to charge camera batteries. The segment was picked up by Discovery Network International.
When used effectively, I’ve found that producing content using immersion therapy makes a more emotional connection with viewers, attracts a larger audience, encourages more engagement, and works to draw customers to a story and brand.
Immersion therapy isn’t easy to master, and takes time and effort, but the benefits of richer and more insightful stories will payoff in a stronger brand connection with the audiences you want to reach.