I am a selfish artist. I have no problem admitting that, as well as the ways in which I am selfish.
- I create for myself. I am interested in satisfying my curiosity.
- I create by myself. I like to work alone.
- I create because I love to test my potential.
- I create I hope people will like what I contribute to the world.
Up until a certain point, those were my reasons for creating. I started noticing a pattern in how I was working. I was rushing to get an image finished, excited to see the finished product, ignoring the idiosyncratic pieces of the process. I was addicted to sharing.
When that realization hit me, I had to take a step back from what I was doing. I realized just how un-lasting that finished product truly is. It may stand the test of time, or it may be gone with a hard drive crash. It may be remembered in museums or forgotten in a matter of days. Once you finish your art, it is released. It is not yours to control, it is for the public (if, of course, you are sharing your art at all). What remains, despite anything, is the process.
That was when I began thinking about CREATION in a different way from CREATING.
One puts emphasis on the product, the other on the action.
In no way do I think it is bad to enjoy the product of your efforts. You should.
ART SHOULD BE SELFISH.
But, what about cherishing the in-between? What about the moments, minutes, hours, days, months, years it takes to create your art? As time moves on, even the mundane experiences build up to influence what you create and how you create it.
How often do you find yourself rushing through the creating process to get to the creation? I’ve done it hundreds of times. Hundreds. I’ve rushed through thinking deeply, rushed through creating with care, overlooked editing mistakes, and all so I could congratulate myself for making something. Tangible. Physical. Finished.
What an error in my judgment these years past. What an error in my life.
Over the past nine months I’ve been planning a new photo series. For most of that time I didn’t have a single vision that stuck, not a single sketch made that would lead to something finished. It scared me. I felt like a fraud. I felt like a lair of an artist. I felt like an imposter.
I mean, look at the facts. I am an artist who has created quickly, churning out a lot of work in short periods of time. I became addicted to the pace, to the praise, to the CREATION. It was time to learn how to love CREATING.
So I had a talk with myself. It went something like this:
Brooke (Subconscious): Slow down. Let’s take a while to think through what you need to say as an artist.
Brooke (Conscious): Nope. Let’s make something every single day to prove my worth as an artist.
Brooke (Subconscious): Wouldn’t you rather find your worth by creating meaningful art?
Brooke (Conscious): Nope.
It was somewhere around month 5 of thinking about my new series and coming up empty that I had a breakdown. I felt like such a failure as an artist. I felt I had let myself down.
What I had really done was let myself go.
I let go of the artist I was.
I let go of the expectation I put on myself.
I let go of the expectation I felt from others.
And I opened my mind to the idea that thinking is an art form in itself. That being with my thoughts and letting them play their course is just as valuable, and often more so, than churning out work.
That was when my mindset changed. I no longer wanted a CREATION, I wanted to CREATE. I have never felt more clear in my intent, more centered in my message, more secure in myself as an artist.
Do you create for the product or for the experience?
(This is a really difficult one to admit.)
How do you see yourself as an artist?