ARE YOU FRUSTRATED OF FEELING LIKE YOU have to please your audience, bank balance, followers, your tutor or teacher and pretty much anyone else before you are happy with your art or design work? I am a tutor and it’s common for people learning to think variations of this. Knowing who your audience is, is important but not essential for making art and design you believe in. Being creative is a confluence of your experience and interests. That’s why this story is about discovering your own creativity. Not someone else’s but your own innate ability to connect to the soul of the universe. When you are out in nature you can’t help but marvel at the abundance of creativity. Have you ever asked yourself how does nature keep doing it, time and time again. Replicating itself with mathematical precision and uninhibited variety.
I have mentored artists and designers for over two decades, and have been lucky to work with individuals from different backgrounds and countries. Through this I have learned how to help people find their creativity and this is my first lesson. It has 3 ideas for making great art and design.
NUMBER ONE: Be yourself.
The first step seems obvious but you would be surprised how many people have been misdirected outside of themselves. Be yourself, be the individual you were born as. No-one else shares your unique experiences, your ancestry and you must tap into what’s inside.
This is a moment of fearless self–discovery.
Never try to be anyone other than you and if anyone suggests that you do something like someone else or compares you to someone else – Don’t listen. Never prioritise an outside opinion of your creativity over your own. Many creative people have fallen into a trap that was set for them a long time ago. Probably at school or even at home. It may have been a passing comment about your creativity that made you think you need to please them and it probably made you think their opinion was more relevant than how you feel about what you are creating.
Be the individual you have always been
No flower is the same, not even the same species of flower are alike. Every petal is an expression of the creative power we can all find inside our own nature. Alan Watts, the spiritual entertainer says, ‘We do not “come into” this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean “waves,” the universe “peoples”. Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe.’
We are nature expressing itself subjectively, find your nature.
NUMBER TWO: Be curious about everything.
Don’t look, SEE. Seeing is very different to looking. Seeing is not passive it is intentional observation. The answers are already out there to all your questions (as well as inside you) remember you are nature. If you are curious and record your observations in your imagination you will never have another creative block. And if you do have a creative block, you know all you need to do is turn on your natural curiosity for life.
What this means is, if you train yourself to SEE the world, to consume every shadow, texture, composition you will always encourage your creative mind to think of ideas. If you ask an artist or designer where do their ideas come from, they will often say ideas come from observation.
SEE the world.
When you start this, you will notice lots of people rush around preoccupied with their phone (looking down). This is how life passes you by and you miss all the accidental clues and random happenings.
Guy Debord founder of the Situationist International wrote an essay for movement without purpose called the Theory of Dérive. In it, he goes as far to suggest that from time to time we should stop all reasons for activity in favour of exploration and movement. He called it a playfully constructed behaviour.
Playfully constructed behaviour is a great methodology for encouraging curiosity and we all know what the truth really is – curiosity killed no cat – they (Cats) have many strategies for playful behaviour there is a lot we could learn from the cats grift. When you see the world you will know all nature is playful at heart.
NUMBER THREE: Collaborate.
Collaboration is how creativity works best. The flower is pollinated by insects by giving nectar freely, the flower created the nectar because of the sunshine, rain and earth working together. Everything is an exchange of energy. Nature knows this and all you need to do is remember you are nature.
Whenever I share knowledge as a teacher I am always learning, in learning theory it is called elision: defined as the process of joining together or merging things and ideas. Combining teaching and learning means they become one and the same thing. The integration of teaching with my own art is an exciting prospect. It makes it possible to create knowledge collaboratively with students. The historical role of the master is forgotten and co-creation comes to the foreground. In this instance the goals of the tutor and student are entwined within an activity and we learn together. The exchange of energy is seamless like the sun to the flower to the butterfly and honey bee.
An environment where you can form a creative community is essential for learning. Remember to always respect each other and be prepared to GIVE your knowledge and you will RECEIVE the knowledge of others. Some people think ‘isn’t this cheating?’ In fact, one student said to me years after they graduated, I always thought working with someone else was cheating because I didn’t create everything. Now they run their own company and collaboration is at the heart of everything. When we met up for tea, they admitted to me they now understood. No-one is an island.
Collaborate and you will be more creative.
HERE’S A QUICK RECAP…
If you make these three simple principles part of your creative life and commit, you will never have a (really bad) creative block again and your creativity will bloom in beautiful abundance. Just like nature.
NUMBER ONE: Be yourself and discover your own natural creativity.
NUMBER TWO: Stay curious and see the word.
NUMBER THREE: Learn to collaborate with others.