SWARTZ et WORDS
CREATIVE LIVING – Part 3: Mental Roadblocks & Being An Artist

Yes! Back into some real content. Been putting my own words into action this year as my wife and I saw the birth of twin daughters at the beginning of the year. I’ve had to be more focused and intentional with my time than ever before. And so, the subject of living a creative life is even more dear to my heart than ever.

Previously, I’ve discussed ways to open up more time to be creative as well as some practical ways to declutter our lives. Now it’s time to delve inward and break down some of the mental roadblocks that can cripple the creative process. 

BE AN ARTIST
I talk with young art school students regularly. I often hear them say things like “I’m working/studying to be an artist.” My response is always something to the effect of “Well, you’re either an artist or you’re not.” If you want to be an artist, start calling yourself one. Own it. Take on the mantle. Get that mentality now and you will see a distinct change in how you approach everything you do. We’re not promised a tomorrow, so claiming that title puts one into a present frame of mind that requires action. (i.e. “Well, if I am an artist, what have I done today that’s creative? Nothing. Well, how can I change that?”) This doesn’t mean you have to be creating something every day. But it does mean that if we are going to call ourselves artists, then our craft must become a conscious part of our daily lives whether it be in thinking, planning or executing.

The other thing about calling one’s self an artist and taking on the mantle of having a craft, is that it’s important not to aspire so much on being “discovered” or “making it big.” We should aspire to master and this requires an ongoing process. One must always be sharpening their craft. There is no resting in what you’ve done. There’s always a refinement taking place as you complete one thing and move on to the next. Like a good reduction sauce, it’s always a simmering process that never really cools. It’s the journey, not the destination, that shapes us.

In many ways, art of all kinds has more to do with language and dialog than it does the creation of a physical form or movement. To master the language of our craft empowers us to create work with dialog and meaning and allows us to effectively participate in the mediums we are affiliated with. Just as someone who loves a particular foreign language and fluently masters it shouldn’t expect to be trumpeted in the press as being wonderful or brilliant, artists shouldn’t expect critical praise for mastering the language of their craft. We dutifully carry on because we love the language and the process of the craft. The fruit of this love brings about some form of conversation, refinement of ourselves or challenge to our thoughts and notions about everything around us.

Be an artist. Own your talent. Sharpen yourself and your craft. Broaden your scope of vision and look for a big picture or framework in which you can see yourself working. Learn the language, vocabulary and the technical and aesthetic benchmarks of the craft you are seeking to master. Do all these things and you will begin the metamorphosis from the artist “I want to be” to the artist “I am.” 

Next time, I’ll begin talking about other forms of mental roadblocks and some practical ways to maneuver around them and get back on a productive path. Until then, go make/do something you love.

  1. swartzet posted this