Many people, myself among them, have a need to “have something going” in the background when working. Some people like to work in complete silence, though to be honest, I haven’t met many who say that. I tend to want silence when I’m in certain stages of a piece, usually when I’m at the very beginning, at the concept phase, at least for my own work. When I’m concepting for others I tend to want energetic music at the beginning.

Back in the 90’s , before the internet got into full swing and so many distractions became readily available, we had fewer sources of media to occupy that side of the brain that is less engaged when doing work. I don’t think its as cut and dried as delineated left brain/right brain but that’s probably a good enough description for our purposes. Back then I would listen to books on tape or cd and of course music on cd. Now, everything is on my phone. I do music subscription services, audiobook subscription (thru Audible) a myriad of TV and Movie subscription services, etc. 

Cassette Tape Player

Lately, I’ve been diving pretty deep into Horror Podcasts. I’ve just recently listened to 100+ hours of the Magnus Archives. Which isn’t on the List below because I blew through the whole 100 hours already. (It is really, really good)

Horror Podcasts

To be honest, when I have a television series on its usually something I’ve already seen and I don’t have to watch actively, such as Supernatural or the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, so they are effectively like listening to an audiobook or a podcast as well.

Angst Bros, Sam and Dean

On curious note, when I think of an audiobook that I’ve recently listened to, like for instance, The Strain…when I think of it I don’t hear the voice of the narrator. I see words on a page in my mind. If I force myself I can recall the narration but the pages come first. The visual first.

The Strain on Audible – (

Another quirk I have is that if there are multiple versions of a story I’ll indulge in all of them, for example:

The Shining exists as…

a book,

a movie,

and a limited series TV show.

Recently I started again with the book and then the movie and then the series. It doesn’t really bother me that I know the story so well. I just like seeing the different treatments.

The Shining Book Cover

Same thing with the Stand…

47 hour audiobook,

3 hour limited series,

and recently a new 10 part series.

It’s no surprise that the books are usually my favorites but that being said I am *very* forgiving of the media I consume in the background. It doesn’t HOLD my attention, it seems to just occupy that back recess of my mind so that I can continue on with the “job” at hand, so to speak.

The Stand Limited Mini Series on CBS

[The Stand- Audible Book-]

I tend to pick audio books based on length rather than ratings because most of my attention is on my work. One exception recently… and the only time I’ve ever returned an audiobook purchase. The narration was the issue, not the content of the book. Sometimes voices can make or break the story and in this instance the narrator sounded…well, he sounded like the narrator from Thomas the Tank Engine and this was a horror story. It was disconcerting and not in an ironic sort of way. “…and she bounced her bucket and torn his limbs off” (this is really only funny if you have children that were deep into Thomas when they were small)

The interesting thing that Vicki and I were discussing was the different media I seem to “choose” or lean to when doing different art activities. As I said before, concepting for a piece can be a very quiet time, a silent time. It goes hand in hand with my “Ritual of Seeing” as I have written about before. Where I go through old sketches and activate ideas to use.

When I begin painting I seem to fall back on a playlist of a strange mixture of esoteric music that then turns to industrial, techno, dub, glitch, trance, etc. Vicki will always comment that she knows when the painting has started when she hears that music.


When I get onto the the technical aspect of a piece, whether it is painting or pencil or digital that is when I fall back to the old favorites. The movies or television programs I have seen over and over. That I can quote backwards and forwards and inside and out.



Though the article is called Left Brain Occupation, the idea that each side of the brain does specific things or is separated like that has actually been debunked. So it may be that I just need the sound… the stories… the music… to help me along the way. I definitely get an energy from it. The one thing I cannot do is work AND talk on the phone, despite being able to sketch during our Live Feeds. I think the reason I can talk and answer questions while doing the feeds is that WHAT I sketch is generally something I’ve explored before.

What is your favorite “other brain occupation?”

Allen Working and Listening (quite some time ago…)