Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Creative Advice

I didn't make this graphic... But it is advice I have given out many, many times, and I couldn't agree with it more.

For some people, creativity is an elusive or magical process... but the truth is, the secret sauce is just time and emotional resilience.

I can honestly say - and I believe most of my artist friends would say this as well - that there is not a single thing I've ever made in my life that I have been perfectly happy with. I've never done anything creative that I look back on and think, "well, that couldn't be any better". I have hours and hours of recordings from bands and musical projects I've been in - a few hours solely of music I've written, even - and every one of them has flaws and shortcomings.

Everything I've written and produced, all the videos I've made, all the infographics, my attempts at animation... It all falls short of what's in my head.

I think this is true for nearly everyone if not absolutely everyone.

What makes an artist successful is that they push past their own creative failures and try again. And again... And again. The disconnect between what you "see" internally, and what comes out on the page, canvas, instrument, camera, etc., is what's usually the disappointment You'll be annoyed that the thing you wanted to make isn't the thing that you made, and in the early stages, you won't know enough about what you're doing to know how to fix what's wrong with it - and sometimes you won't even be able to express to anyone else what you meant to do. As the graphic above says, a lot of people never get past the phase of having their work disappoint them, and they quit.

The biggest trick of it is just not to quit.

Don't decide you can't write, or you can't draw, or you can't make a film based on your first attempts if you want to be serious about creating art - especially if you think you might want to be serious about doing it professionally. The reality is, barring the handful of freak prodigies out there, no one gets it right on the first try... and the only way to get better is to practice.

That's why the best thing you can do is just... create. And create a LOT.

The more you create - in any medium - not only will you improve your technical skills in that medium, your taste will be refined and your artistic sensibilities will be sharpened.

You'll start to be able to anticipate problems and correct for them before they become problems. You'll eventually be able to articulate the things you like and dislike aesthetically in very specific ways - and once you can do that, then you can start making choices with your own art, rather than creating purely by trial and error. And once you can do that, then you will find that the art you make is far closer to what's in your head and your heart than it is when you start - and you will have moved beyond the phase where you experience that constant disappointment.

Then, you get to move from anticipating and correcting "mistakes", to honing in on what you really love aesthetically & creatively.

I have an uncle who was a professional, and literally "international award-winning", chef for many years until he switched careers in the 90s. He used to have a home kitchen which he had remodeled himself. On the floor was painted a timeline of his own work and experiences. The timeline started at the garbage can, and on the floor next to it, he had painted the words, "This is shit."

It was brilliant...

Nobody ever sees the "shit" (if we're lucky) as artists. So people who aren't artists tend to think that it's all just pure talent or alchemy. There's something mysterious about it because the amount of time it takes to get really good at art is the same as the amount of time it takes to get good at anything else, but nobody in their right minds spends that kind of time on learning how to draw or paint, or sculpt, or make movies and music.

It's not magic, though. It's just putting in the work, and caring about making it better.

1 comment:

Ashavari said...

that's sooo true, omg! It really does take a lot of hardwork that many don't understand.