Whether you’re an illustrator, designer, visual artist, costume-maker or set-builder, a lot of your working life will be spent with busy hands and empty ears. So, why not fill your creative time with some aural pleasure. Here are our favourite podcasts to work by…
Desert Island Discs
The greatest combination of music and talking since R Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet. The Desert Island Discs format is so simple and so brilliant that you can find yourself listening to the musical biography of everyone from a 90-year-old crossword compiler to astrophysicists and, of course, a metric heckload of artists, writers, actors and musicians. My personal highlight is the fat lady Clarissa Dickson Wright talking about the time she punched an Alsatian dog in the face, before introducing Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler as her fourth disc.
This American Life
If you have one of those clever, swipey, Pop-Tart-shaped phones, then you can get the entire This American Life archive to listen to and download whenever you ruddy well fancy. With their brilliant mix of investigative journalism, anecdote, fiction, comedy and social comment, this is probably my favourite American podcast. Ever. Also, Ira Glass – the presenter – is a dish of epic proportions. Favourite episodes include Break Up Songs, Habeas Schmabeas (interviewing people in Guantánamo Bay), Frenemies and Slow to React.
Unless you particularly like working in a creative vacuum, then it pays to stay up-to-date with what’s happening in the arts. Mark Lawson is one of the greatest arts interviewers to have ever lived and the show’s combination of reviews, interviews, features and discussions is well worth a listen.
That guy from The Daily Show! That guy from Political Animal! Making a topical, hilarious, transatlantic podcast about rotten politicians, rotten journalists, rotten economies and the super-insane millionaire children of dictators. Yes please.
Adventures in Design
Two graphic designers specialising in gig posters chat about their practice, interview other artists, gossip about the industry and just generally shoot the visual breeze. Good episodes to start with include Kevin Tong, Rob Jones and Mitch Putnam (particularly when they start talking about the legal side of design).
From Our Own Correspondent
Radio 4’s international correspondents report from their where they are stationed with tales of daily life, under-reported news and sometimes beautiful portraits of a relatively unknown culture. One of the best Radio 4 podcasts by a country mile.
Drama of the Week
If you like a little narrative with your audio fix, check out the Drama of the Week. It’s amazing how much you can get done while listening to a full-length radio play. Atching Tan: A Gypsy Wife was brilliant and Craven: Looking for Mr King stars the glorious Maxine Peake.
This is more of a playlist than a podcast, I suppose. But, hey, who’s counting? Rose Blake (the daughter of legendary designer Peter Blake and the founder of Print Club) invites illustrators, artists and designers to make playlists of the music they listen to while working in the studio, with a little description of each. Nice. I’m particularly enjoying the Anthony Burrill one at the moment.
If you fancy a smattering of science, politics, philosophy, culture and history, courtesy of Resonance FM, then this is your lucky day. Described as “a live talk show about ideas and culture with an emphasis on ideas of the Enlightenment” that “actively promotes science, freedom of expression, scepticism and secular humanism,” Little Atoms is like a great mix of university lecture, pub discussion and Radio 4 arts show.
And the best of the rest….
The Moth Podcast – recordings of brilliant open mic spots.
Utter Shambles – Josie Long and Robin Ince are funny with guests.
The Bike Show – you know, if you like cycling.
Do the Right Thing – a panel show too funny and too smutty for the radio.
WTF – Marc Maron talking ridiculously seriously about the craft of comedy.
The Guardian Book podcast – like reading, but easier.
What are your favourite podcasts to work to? Let us know in the comments section below.
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