If you're like me, you probably complain about the number of hours allocated to one full day. Twenty-four? They may be great for a Keifer Sutherland show but when you have to manage all the professional and personal tasks that come with being a modern and responsible citizen, there's never enough time to do all the crap you have to do.
Surprise! It just got worse.
With low costs of production, massive distribution, and proliferation of devices, those around you can now geek out on the stuff they love. Your friend likes crochet? Lovely. She can follow professional crocheters on Twitter (is that actually a thing?), watch instructional videos on YouTube, sell her stuff on Etsy, and join a private group on Facebook.
Who has time for small-talk when there's a listicle on the "Best Tea Cozies of 2016" to consume? You have a personal crisis? Too bad, so sad. She'll get back to you right after she watches the latest needle unboxing video. She may view it on her phone but devices aren't to blame. Hey, it's not the thing, it's the interesting stuff on the thing. And there's never been more of it.
We're at the point that we're not even trying to earn our family's love or our colleague's respect any more. We just want a little bit of their time and attention.
For that to occur, we need to be creative.
As we explored in our recently published book, Everyone's an Artist (or at least they should be), it's creativity that can get you noticed, get you heard, and give you the edge in everything you do. To do it, just think and act like an artist.
Wake Up Your Inner Artist
Artists can teach you everything you need to know about being creative. Don't worry, don't get your Dockers in a twist. You don't need to actually sculpt or paint or perform an expressive dance. You just have to think like those who do.
Realizing you're an artist is the first step in starting to behave like one.
Deep down, you're already an artist anyhow. Your creative spirit just got sucked out of you over the years. As a kid, you were a creative being who expressed yourself with complete disregard for others opinions. Now you're an adult who requires signature approval before you get tagged in an Instagram pic.
Admittedly, those of us in creative professions didn't help. We repeatedly re-enforced the notion that creativity was the exclusive domain of those who wore black and listened to indie music. Apple may have armed us with great creative tools but they extended the stereotype. Surely, you remember, "Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes." It's one of my all-time favourite spots but it's wrong. You don't need to be a freak to be creative. You just need to commit to letting your creative spirit out, mini-van and all.
Realizing you're an artist is the first step in starting to behave like one. Here are some others.
Do it to do it.
Creative ideas aren't usually the problem, it's the motivation to see them through. How many times have you been engaged in conversation and said, "You know what would be fun? If we...". There's a spark in the energy and some giggles of anticipation but before long, you regress back to doing what you've always done. You retreat to the safe, the logical and the traditional even though you get excited about the idea of doing something fun and different in the discussion phase. See it through. Do it. You'll be happier (and more successful) when you do.
Focus on your art.
What always impresses me about successful artists is their focus. I'm sure they procrastinate but the good ones seem to fill their day with the creative task at hand. Painters paint and writers write while the rest of us spend the majority of our time on everything but our art (however we define what that is). Our calendars are filled with meaningless activities that take us further away from what we should be doing. By the time we get around to the important stuff, there's no time left to actually be creative. Prioritize your schedule, become efficient at low-value tasks, eliminate the time-wasters, and focus on your art.
Tame the trolls.
My background is in comedy so I'm well aware that there are people who like nothing better than yelling, "You suck!" from the back of a comedy club. That's what happens when you've made the bold choice to put yourself out there. Artists don't let the critics get in the way and neither should you. Every untraditional choice you make will be accompanied by a critic who disagrees and five more who hop on to the Negative Nancy bandwagon. No bother. They're just jealous that they didn't have the confidence to do it. You did. Be proud of that. Haters gonna hate but true artists keep creating.
Live for your own applause.
Standing before an applauding crowd is a pretty satisfying experience. All the work that goes into an artistic expression is realized when the process comes to an end. The external endorsement is great but there's no better ovation than the one in your own head. Creativity is hard and giving up along the way is a tempting option. Don't. The wonderful feeling of accomplishing something unique -- regardless of external praise -- will be far greater than the complacency of not trying anything at all. There is gold at the end of the creative rainbow but you'll never experience if you quit along the way.
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"The beginning draughtsman or painter should avoid drawing from photographs. This practice causes bad habits to form. "To start, always draw from life -- and not necessarily a model. Simple convex objects like apples, pots, opaque bottles, or smooth rocks or seashells are tremendous subjects of study. Training the mind to see form and understand how it sees form, and the hand to represent that understanding, is the start to gaining the visual artist's tools of expression." -Daniel Maidman, artist (Image: Daniel Maidman, The Red Pipes, oil on canvas, 24"x30", 2013)
It is good to study a photographic scene slowly and carefully, observing how objects interact in space. Simply shifting your angle in space in relation to your subject can make or break the dynamism of a photograph. "Start out at a central point, then walk five feet to the left, five feet to the right, and keep photographing, observing how the spatial relationships shift with every step. Before you know it, you'll discover the 'sweet spot' from which to take your photograph." -Jade Doskow, teaches Architectural Photography and Modern Ruins at SVA (Image: Jade Doskow, 'Green Mystery House,' 2011)
"Collage, whose invention originally is attributed to Picasso, presents as a simple technique: the utilization of assorted printed paper, which is then altered and rearranged by cutting, shaping, and then gluing to construct something entirely different from the original supply. An attractive advantage to constructing a collage is that ability to draw is helpful, but not at all necessary, as collage is design-oriented; allowing the artist to 'sketch' by manipulating glued bits of paper together to create both abstract and narrative compositions. "Unlike mixing oil or acrylic medium, complex printmaking, or sculpture, you can get started in a jiffy by selecting interesting sheets of the printed page and then cutting them up with a scissor or simply tearing them into pieces to reposition them and form the collage. Even though the paper materials are appropriated from another source, the adaptively re-used collage elements become unique, original and completely your own -- with collage, if you don’t have a particular plan in mind you can just begin on a whim!" -Bruce Helander, artist (Image courtesy of Bruce Helander Studio)
"If you can cut, fold and paste (as in paper, poster board, etc.), you can make metal sculptures and small steel objects. "Cut shapes in thin sheet steel (18 gauge, less than 1/16 in. thick) with 'aviation' snips. Wear gloves and smooth any sharp edges with a metal file or sandpaper. Fold/bend parts using pliers or a table vise, or anything that can act as a wedge. Small non-weight bearing pieces can be epoxied, or notched and folded together. To attach bigger parts, make holes with a metal hand punch or electric drill using a drill bit for metal. Join pieces with hardware -- nuts and bolts, hammer rivets, pop rivets and riveter, or wire." -Marsha Trattner, teaches Metal Sculpture, Metal Furniture Fabrication and Creative Blacksmithing, as well as a Weekend Welding Workshop and Metal Works Without Welding in the summer at SVA (Image courtesy of Marsha Trattner)
"Here is a quick and easy project with great results: 1) Mix gel medium with a small amount of water to create a more liquid consistency. 2) Apply mixture to the surface of the base object using the paintbrush. 3) Cut the fabric and arrange the pieces onto the object as desired. 4) Apply another coat of the gel medium on top of the fabric to ensure that it remains in place. 5) Cover the entire object and you're done!" -Saya Woolfalk, artist (Image courtesy of Saya Woolfalk)
"When taking photographs in outdoor settings, especially when taking photos of landscapes use the natural elements to work in your advantage. They will provide drama, depth and uniqueness to your shots. Clouds could be a photographer's best friend but it requires a bit of patience to get the right mood in the shot. "The same can be said for shadows, fog and snow. Playing with natural light is fun and the results can be striking without using heavy and expensive equipment. If a manual setting in your camera is too cumbersome set your camera to auto focus and you are ready to go." -Jaime Rojo, photographer and co-founder of Brooklyn Street Art (Image: Colorado Prairie by Jaime Rojo)
"Thinking outside the box is never that far a leap from your own self and the stuff you love to do anyway. I'm sure you've heard about 'journaling.' Anyone can do that. It's a wonderful practice in terms of doing lots of 'me-me-me' work. But don't feel self centered. It truly is a brave undertaking to venture deep into your own issues in order to experience any real life growth. From this place, now you could be ready to streamline your focus in terms of what you are documenting, and what makes aspects of your life original. "Try going beyond the 'Dear Diary' book, and start looking right under your nose for things your already do every day, things that interest you, subjects you already deal with. Try a journal that focuses on one of these things, using the materials that pertain to the subject, like an accumulative project. I did this by using elements from the garment manufacturing industry, as I grew up as a pattern cutter in my family's business. I started this project in 2004 and have accumulated hundreds of journal pieces. Now I install them in groupings of about 50 at a time, attached to the wall with sewing pins. "It's important to commit to your ideas, as 'stupid; as they might seem in the beginning, because concepts combined with the visual can really surprise you. Over time, you just might have a new style of documentation that has yet to be seen." -Carol Es, artist (Image: Carol Es, Drawing Installation, 46 Days, 2011)
"Most of us enjoyed fingerpainting as children and surely it is still the most gloriously direct way of applying paint. The touch and feel of the artist is left up on the surface and the whole process is sensual, visceral and delightfully messy. I went back to it several years ago thinking that it would yield some adventurous and maybe slightly crude work. "To my surprise I found that if I used a delicate touch, laying the paint gently onto the canvas, I could get a very rich, alluring surface. The fact that placement is a little imprecise gave the work and intriguing softness and suggestiveness. I worked with oil on a fine linen, using the paint fairly thick so that it sat up on the surface. I used a barrier cream to keep the paint out of my pores and avoided toxic pigments like lead whites or cadmiums. "My last exhibition in New York was a show of images from my English childhood painted from memory in this technique. Adopting this childish technique allowed me better access to the memory and feel of childhood." -John A. Parks, artist and teacher of courses in Realist Techniques, Portrait Painting, Drawing and Gouache techniques at SVA (Image: John A. Parks, “HIde and Seek” 2012. Oil on Linen. 20” x 30”)
"I’m always encouraging my students to understand the basics of traditional animation and apply this your personal concepts, style, story or abstract ideas. "It all starts with drawing. The rough idea of drawings, doodles, enthusiasm and sketches plays such a major part in the process of animation. We begin by drawing on paper and creating a personal stylistic approach, making drawings that move, a flow of story, design, animation principles, expressionistic style and content. The computers are there to make the finished film look colored and composited. "There is no such thing as good or bad in art …it’s making it better. That's important. Take the principals and most of all give it your signature of personal style. Create images you want to see." -Martin Abrahams, Instructor of Animation at SVA
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