The concept of the modern artist is often misunderstood.
I feel as though most people think of an artist as someone who does something entirely superfluous, living on a whim, moment to moment and blessed with a way of life that comes down to either luck, family fortune, or a rare gift. I can tell you as a business woman myself, that this is simply not the case. In the beginning, I was on the verge of giving up and giving in to a limiting but far more reliable office job more times than I can count. I have spoken to many of my friends in recent times about what it means to be an artist and felt I needed to share my thoughts, about what it means to live out your apparent dreams and the realities of surviving in a world, country and economy that’s instead designed to reward those skilled in business. Because that’s the reality of this industry. I believe that creativity is a skill, not a gift, and most importantly I believe that focusing solely on skill is not the path to become successful.
This is something I learned after years in my own business. After I had finally reached a level of skill that I was so desperate to attain, and realising that it didn’t in fact change my situation at that time. Looking back, I wasn’t doing what I really wanted to do, even though I had convinced myself I was free. I had been believed for a long time that if only I was as “good” as those I aspired to, if only my work was as beautiful, as woven with mastery then my life would fall into place.
The world is tough, and there will always be someone telling you that what you make is not, or will never be good enough. Sometimes there will be many people telling you this. The truth is, being 'good enough’ does not guarantee that you will also feel good enough. Creating the content, having the knowledge, the skill and the so called ‘talent' is not enough to make a business. Because skill is not a gift, it’s earned and worked for. But it’s easy to fall into that trap, and I find it so interesting that so many incredibly talented artists and creators believe that only if they can just ‘do' something better, that their goals will be realised.
In the creative industry the 80/20 principle applies to this concept. I have found that time and time again success comes from 80% business and 20% talent. What I find even more interesting, is that this statement can not only confuse, but also downright infuriates some people. Perhaps it’s because we tie our success to our measure of skill. Perhaps, we believe it is innate to excuse our own lack of perseverance or discipline in our craft, so we can dismiss the success of others and avoid comparison. Or perhaps we want to believe that skill is a gift, it’s something we are born with, or blessed with so that we can feel special or unique. If we tie our sense of self worth and identity to our skills and abilities, this can only be to our detriment. If you believe creativity is an innate gift, it can prevent you from truly being authentic in your pursuit of your passion.
To believe that creativity is a skill, creates a space for you to practice, learn, improve and grow. Not just as an artist in your field but also as a person. For me this adjustment of my mindset has allowed me to be fully present to the process of creating, and most importantly to enjoy the journey.
Sometimes I fall in love with what I create, and it’s wonderful. But other times I don’t. I remind myself that we all encounter this, the creative process is unique for everyone and the joy I experience can be invisible to someone else. This can be terrifying, but with some thought it can also be completely freeing. Knowing that there is no ultimate judge of your work, that you truly are the one final critic, and that other’s perceptions are fluid and changing, means you are truly free to venture the creative waters that you are scared to tread, to find your voice, have the space to create what you love, and follow your joy.
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Photographer. Creator. Dreamer ♥