Working in education for 8 years now, I have heard the following phrase uttered disdainfully in one way or another on a number of occasions:
“What’s the point of art?”
Mostly heard from students in snarky, sulky tones, but also from misguided parents, narrow-minded educators and as an insidious message from government bodies.
Now I may be biased here, but for a damned good reason. There’s a HELL of a lot of point, and it’s not what you may immediately think. Let’s look past the paint and the canvas to explore something far more important and integral to what the people of this world need right now – a Creator’s Mind-set.
It’s not about the art work
The paintings, poems, sculptures, drawings, photographs and other art pieces are just the by-products (don’t get me wrong – inspiring, thought-provoking and masterfully crafted by-products, but hear me out). Although the world would be at a serious loss if there were no more songs, stories, or images, they are not crucial to our survival. We would still be breathing if there wasn’t any (although it would be shit).
But I would loudly argue that the skills and experiences learned and practiced from the making of these art works are 100% crucial.
It’s all about the process
On the journey of making an art work, you have to do many things. There’s the envisioning, the research (either into subject or technique), the mock-ups, the practice, the re-working, the long hours and the final touches, all before sharing your piece with the world.
That journey in and of itself is character building. But there’s even more to it than that.Let’s take a moment to break some of that down right here:
1. In order to be inspired, you must become open to the curiosities, beauty and suffering in the world.
2. In order to have a vision, you must become someone who has trust in their own perspective and voice.
3. In order to take the first step in making, you must become someone who can live with uncertainty and put doubt to one side.
4. In order to generate ideas, you must become a problem-solver and a lateral thinker.
5. In order to make the vision you have in your head into something concrete, you must become action-orientated and dedicated to mastering your craft.
6. In order to keep going when it’s all looking like crap and you feel inadequate, you must become resilient and believe in your reasons over your fears.
7. In order to see your project through to the end, you must become accountable to your values and push past self-sabotage.
8. In order to share your work with the world, you must become courageous and know your expression is just as valuable as anyone else’s.
9. In order to know if it’s all worth it, you must become someone who understands the unique value of your contribution, and in turn the contribution of others.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg there bud.
Now just imagine, for a moment, if we took what we had to become – what we had to practice, be and do – in the art making process and applied that to other areas of our lives. Holy shit.
Moving from Victim to Creator
The opposite of a Creator’s Mind-set is a Victim Mind-set. And we all know what THAT is like. The feeling of powerlessness, the ‘Why me?” mentality, blaming others or our situation for not getting our shit together.
Being a creator over a victim comes down to one single, crucial difference:
Believing that your power comes from within yourself, instead of from outside yourself.
Victims wait for permission, Creator’s give it to themselves.
Victims see dead-ends, Creators see challenges to be navigated.
Victims wait to be given what they want, Creator’s go and make it.
Victim’s are focused on what they get (or don’t get), Creator’s see themselves as contributors.
Victims default to apathy, Creator’s bravely engage.
Victims shy away from the pain and fear, Creator’s understand they are the gateways to truly living.
And, more than ever, I truly believe this world needs empowered creators.
So I ask of you – be brave. The greatest art you will ever make is the life you live and the person you become. Find a creative outlet – journaling, cooking, carving, song writing, drawing, whatever speaks to you. And let it be the training ground for a more engaged, courageous, resilient and powerful you. So when the times comes to be brave off the canvas – that muscle is already strong.
What qualities or characteristics have you developed from your own creative practice? Or what qualities would do you wish you could cultivate?