His films are always satisfying and exciting on multiple levels, and I’m looking forward to Tim Burton’s new project Alice in Wonderland. What are some of the aspects of his life and way of working that help him be so creative?
Costume designer Colleen Atwood also admires Burton as an artist, and explains: “He is able to open himself up to the world, through his own world, which is very unusual. His work has a very separate and personal voice and it comes from a very true place. At the same time it’s incredibly entertaining.”
Burton has commented on the importance of inner drive: “The tricky thing about being in the entertainment industry is that basically no matter how much money is involved, how good the life is, the thing that still compels you is that thing inside.”
[From his book Burton on Burton.]
In a newspaper article, writer Michael Dwyer commented, “Several people warned me about Tim Burton. He is decidedly eccentric, they whispered, totally wrapped up in his wild imagination, and consequently, very difficult to interview.”
But Dwyer went on to say, “Perhaps they were confusing the man with his movies, because they got it all wrong. Burton proved to be delightful, very talkative and bubbling with enthusiasm.”
Burton has talked about his early life: “I think the atmosphere that I grew up in, yes, there was a subtext of normalcy. I don’t even know what the word means, but it’s stuck in my brain. It’s weird. I don’t know if it’s specifically American, or American in the time I grew up, but there’s a very strong sense of categorization and conformity.
“I remember being forced to go to Sunday school for a number of years, even though my parents were not religious. No one was really religious; it was just the framework. There was no passion for it. No passion for anything. Just a quiet, kind of floaty, kind of semioppressive, blank palette that you’re living in.”
Sleeping and calming
He said in the same interview [Rolling Stone, 1992-07.23], “To this day I’m happiest when I’m… I look forward to sleeping. And I did, even then. And I love talking to people who like to sleep.
“There are a few things that just calm me down: when I hear about somebody making mashed potatoes and when I hear about somebody sleeping and liking to sleep. I get this sense of calm, and it’s a wonderful feeling. And in Hollywood, nobody likes to sleep – they’re losing out, they’re not on top of it. I love to sleep.”
Tim Burton – like many creative visionaries – seems to have high levels of emotional, imaginational and physical intensity and activity. For more about this, see the post Dabrowski Excitabilities – Michael Jackson.
One of the key ways he develops creative ideas is to make drawings, and Burton comments in one of the video interviews about how often teachers may discourage individualistic creativity. See related post: Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?