I used to be an artist.
When I worked in a job that was, let’s say less than fulfilling or creative, I was an artist. I made lots of work, I had lots of ideas, I had some shows. It was great, and it seemed that the ideas and the drive to work were very present. Working led to more ideas, which led to more work…
Lately, I am stuck in a very different cycle. No time to think means no ideas to start from, which means no drive to create. I have a studio set up very nicely in my new house, mostly ready to go, but not quite the intuitive and comfortable space I am used to. It is actually bigger and better organized than before, but still unfamiliar. There is also a work space with all the tools out back – this time not so organized, but a nice little home for saws and drills and things. Waiting...
Creativity is an imprecise concept, and it is something I have begun to think about in new ways. Rather than being the territory of so-called ‘creative people’ – the artists, writers, designers – I am interested in creativity as it is present everywhere else. It is true, people at the top of their field have succeeded through creativity, innovation and tenacity, but what about the rest who haven’t had the opportunity to really develop or appreciate their nascent creative potential?
And more personally, how can I find a way to tap back into the artist that I used to be?
My first step is always to look at art. A great museum visit or pictures in a magazine – either will work, though the challenge of the museum visit now is that it just triggers the museum educator side of me, and that takes over the artist side and I spend all my energy thinking and experiencing art through that lens. This is one of my blocks. Another of course is the time – commuting, living with a perfect little person (who is two), trying to have a tidy house and three meals a day. We all have those blocks, but art still gets made.
My biggest stumbling block is how to get started – how to jump into the cycle. This is true of many people that I work with too – fear of making a mistake, fear of not succeeding, fear of doing it wrong. Just start playing with some materials I tell people. Just start with a tiny idea and see where it goes.
Lately I’ve been feeling the itch to make something. It is getting stronger, and my museum brain is making a bit of room for my artist brain. It is coming.