Here are some tips I put together, from months and months and years of observation, exploration, understanding, and hands-on experimentation with creativity and the arts. These tips speak on what it means to be creative, what it means to pursue creativity, and how to do it in this time and age. If you’re already doing most of them, keep it going! If this is new for you, be encouraged 🙂
#1. KNOW THAT YOU ARE CAPABLE OF GREATNESS
You are awesome. And you are capable of greatness. Why? Because you are created in God’s image, and He is Great. So that means you are great. With a lower-case “g”, but still considered great. Because if we are like Him, we are destined for greatness.
Everyone is an artist. It’s true. It breaks my heart when the person with the mic says, “Can all the artists in the room stand up?” and not everyone is standing up. Actually, only a handful of people are standing up. Maybe about 40% of the room. Maybe 30%. Who knows. Regardless, I think people underestimate themselves. Everyone is capable of creating things. Everyone is capable of making things. Remember 3rd grade art class? That rainbow-colored fish was a one-of-a-kind. And a work of art. We are all creative people. We were born creative! Just look a child and listen to their thoughts. So creative. We all have ideas to offer, things we have to say, and blessings to give. We just need a little bit of motivation and people to believe in us to get us going. You are unique. And somebody believes in you.
Don’t think you have artistic talent? What about planning, administrating, public speaking, delegating, leading, organizing, mobilizing, and communicating? What about electrical engineering, civil engineering, cup-measuring, food-tasting, marketing, advertising, promoting, and public relation-al-ing? These are all talents that are not as tangible as in the visual world, but is necessary and desired in the people world. And it’s an art to work with people. It takes strategy, experience, development to grow at working with people. You have deadlines to make, contracts to close, and shows to put on. It’s a art to work with people. Even the things you do with people. Reconciliation is an art, forgiveness is an art, and teaching people how to do both is an art. Everyone knows art. And everyone is an artist. And that means YOU are an artist. And that means YOU are talented. You really are. You just need to become more aware of it. And what it means. And become great at it. Because you are destined for greatness.
#2. KNOW THAT IT WON’T BE PERFECT
Now that you know #1, let’s get something straight with #2. Nothing that you will ever do or make will ever be perfect. In your eyes. EVER. It’s a perfectionist thing. Even if the entire world loves it, to the maker and editor, it won’t be perfect. Whether it’s in painting, sculpting, dancing, writing, video editing, or photographing, your end product is never going to be perfect. That angle will be a little bit off. Or that coloration of the photo won’t be exactly how you wanted it. That transition in a short film will get on your nerves every time you watch it but you can’t do anything about it because it was the best option with what you had to work with. Nothing will be perfect. But don’t take this is as a discouragement, but as a realization that all artists need to accept to move forward and not go back to their past projects and keep calling them unfinished (Oh I’m preaching to myself right now).
What’s done is done, so let it go, unless you REALLY feel like you must go back and redo it. But for the most part, learn to let go. I know it’s hard. It is. Honestly, sometimes I shelf away one of my paintings for about 3 months so I don’t look at it. Some of them I take out and I am a bit proud of my work (forgetting what the original vision was) and others I take out, shudder a little bit, get disappointed at myself for making it so poorly, then shelf it again for another 5 months. It’s something you’ll have to get used to. Some things you’ll be happy with, some things you won’t be. If you’re not happy, well, then you can give it away. Your trash can be someone else’s treasure.
#3. JUST DO IT
Just do it. That watercolor piece you’ve been thinking about making? That video on Seoul you’ve been wanting to create? You don’t need your parents permission. Or the approval of man. Just start. You also don’t need to know who you are before you start creating things. I learned this from another writer. And it’s true. If we try to figure out who we are and what kind of ____er, ____er, or ____er we are before we start, all we would do is ponder the possibilities, become increasingly introspective, then discouraged, feeling like a fake, without actually doing anything. We don’t need to know what kind of artist we are yet. We find out as we do it. We really need to get over the fear of man, fear of rejection, what people think, and just DO. Just try it. Practice it. No one’s going to get hurt. And it only benefits YOU. And once you start to make things and develop your skill, you’ll realize how much of a blessing it is to other people. But that won’t happen unless you actually DO SOMETHING.
#4. CULTIVATE YOUR GIFTINGS
Cultivate = To sow, grow
Giftings = Talents
I’m saying you have to cultivate your talents. Those amazing giftings that you were born with, you gotta cultivate. Those not-so-good talents you think you don’t have, well determine if it’s worthwhile, then cultivate it. Cultivate means to nurture and spend time on. To improve. To sow into and prepare to make better. To refine. It’s really about identifying your gifts, what you are good at, and learning to work on them little by little. Raw talent will get you pretty far, but developed, polished, and professionalized talent will get you even farther. And keep you there (with good character). So invest your time in your talents. It’s a gift. Steward it well. And continue to develop.
Even if you reach that plateau where you think you can’t grow anymore, like I did when I was learning drums, you still gotta persevere. That same beat or 4-count that keeps messing you up, you gotta break it down bit by bit, until you master every section. You can’t skim over it. And if you do, you’ll eventually have to go back and deal with it later. So be prepared to meet the walls. And work on the hard things you don’t want to work on. Those frustrating and never-getting-better areas. Learn to invest your time and practice, even if it’s for a few minutes or for several hours, and cultivate it. Perfect practice makes perfect. Keep working on it. Don’t get too discouraged for too long.
#5. GET OFF FACEBOOK & MANAGE YOUR TIME
Delete your Facebook app on your phone. Do it. I did it for the past 3 weeks and it’s the best decision I’ve made this summer. Be fully present. In your relationships, in your workplace, in your own life. Stop comparing yourself to someone else with a little-bit-better-looking-life when your life is right there ready to be taken ahold of and nurtured. You really don’t need to know what everyone else is doing every 7 minutes. Or for some people, every 7 seconds. Remember that you are awesome. And people will catch onto that awesomeness. But if you’re so busy peering into other peoples lives, you’re wasting precious moments you could be enriching your own. And that’s not very awesome.
Taking your mind of the cyber world takes practice (especially in this crazy fast information-hungry day and age), and after the first 3 days without frantically wanting to get on Facebook, it’ll be okay. You’ll realize the world does move forward without it. And you get more in touch with your own emotions, your own thoughts, and your own self, way better than when you are constantly distracted and disrupted by social media activity. Learn to develop your thoughts as you ask yourself the hard questions. What really matters to you? What does your heart break for? How do you really feel about that person? Be intentional to disengage from the fragmented digital world and remember to actively engage in the analog world you live in. You’re going to need to be fully present in your work and art pieces if you really want to make something great. So make this a practice everyday.
#6. GO TO THE BOOKSTORE
Get inspired. Get resourceful. You sitting at your desk scrolling down your Instagram feed won’t do anyone good if you’re trying to come up with something great. Use the resources around you. Go to the bookstore and flip through those philosophical books, those interior design books, those small business brand logo books. Everything and anything will open your eyes to the world you have yet to see and experience. Be resourceful with other text and visuals. Look online. Get on Pinterest (only for a few minutes) for ideas, save them, print them out, and make a pile of all the things that you like. Make a collaboration of it. REMIX IT. Read a real book. It might take some days but the wisdom and knowledge you’ll get from those 200+ pages is priceless. And you’ll be surprised how relatable it is to your own life.
Go to a bookstore. Get people’s ideas who have similar ideas as you. You won’t feel so alone. And you’ll be inspired and encouraged to make some cool stuff. Your brain will have so much to process, and you’ll want to go back once you feel dry again. Use the world around you and get your read on.
I love books. I love the bookstore.
#7. SAY NO TO FRIENDS, SAY YES TO ART
Pursuing art means practicing your instrument, evaluating movie scenes, watching culinary shows, making woodprints at a printmaking studio, or mixing colors on the pallete for that right shade for a new painting. Whatever it may be, you need to SET APART TIME to work on that. And you know what that means? Sometimes, you have to say NO to people. Be that happy introvert up there. Be excited for nights alone. You don’t need to say to your friend’s face “NO PLEASE DON’T TALK TO ME I’M WORKING ON SOMETHING,” but in your heart know your priorities and set aside time in your busy schedule to sit down and work on your art. Set aside time to get that choreography right. Set aside time to work on that DIY project you’ve been wanting to do. Even if there are millions of other events going on around you and people are inviting you out to this birthday dinner, that going away party, and this college event, etc etc etc. Sometimes you gotta choose art over people. I say this because this is a hard practice for most people, especially those who care about hurting other people’s feelings. If you are conflicted, carefully choose the events you actually desire to go to, and kindly decline the rest. If you’re thinking about your friend’s feelings, be really honest or be really vague. They will get over it, and you’ll get better at your craft. It’s a win-win situation. It’s not personal, it’s just what needs to be done. It’s important to have alone time. It’s development time.
It’s okay to work on your things by yourself. It’s okay to have alone time and not feel bad about it. You need to get to know yourself better and your style and what you need to work on, without somebody breathing down your neck or watching your every move. It’s okay to be in solitude and relish every moment of it. It’s okay if you don’t want to see people for the next 4 days (okay that sounds a little extreme and mean, but you get what I mean). Stay in that zone and don’t let a text or Facebook notification change your mind. Stick to your plans of choosing art, and let go of the need to be around people 24/7. It’s refreshing, soothing, recharging, AND fun.
#8. REMIXX IT
Nothing is really original. That can sound really depressing. But it’s not. Just because nothing is new is under the sun doesn’t mean you can’t REMIX IT. Which means to recombine, rearrange, reedit. Take from the old things and make it the new things. But make sure it’s good stuff. It’s completely okay to take some things that have already been established and switch it up. Pick up the little things. Get the thought-process and meaning behind it, understand it, and make it yours. Pick and choose ideas from 7 different places and compile them to make an better “original”. Remember that the only thing that makes it really original is that YOU made it.
Don’t make an impersonal imitation of something, but create something that speaks to you, and is evident that it took time, effort, and thoughtfulness. Take from your deepest inspirations, quotes, understandings, and beliefs. And look to the prettiest, most appealing, and aesthetically-pleasing sources to emulate. But remember that nothing is completely original. They are a reinstatement, a reproduction, or a re-mix, of something new from the old. There is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). But there’s already a lot of great things out there. We just have the top-notch technology and access to countless resources to make it our own. And we just need to understand that it’s okay to remix.
#9. SUPPORT OTHER PEOPLE
You know, the most successful people are the most selfless people? They tend to celebrate others, support endlessly, and want the best for their friends, families, and even strangers. You know why? Because they are secure in what they have and who they are, that someone else’s success does not threaten them from achieving theirs. They can compliment others, do everything with joy, be able to say sorry, and keep a continuous to-do list that is actually being achieved. On the flip side, it’s a horrible and sad thing when people compare themselves to each other, because that causes strife and envy and jealousy, and those things always snuff out the support and love for other people. They want the worst for that person, secretly wishing she or he would fail so they could get on top. But how selfish is that? And uncharming? We need to learn how to celebrate one another. Not just to be successful human, but to be a morally good human. When we are supportive, loving, complimenting, and forgiving, it has a domino effect for others to rejoice in someone else’s breakthrough or recognition, giving us hope and vision that we too, can achieve such greatness. Don’t be stingy with your encouragements, messages, comments, “likes”, and various forms of love and support because it means the world to the artist. And it makes you a better person. If there’s bitterness in your heart, talk with somebody. Learn to forgive. And learn to celebrate others and love people well. Love = Support. Support artists. They are human too. With thoughts and feelings. And every human wants to feel loved. And supported.
#10. THE WORLD NEEDS PEOPLE LIKE YOU
Everything is art. And according to that picture, EARTH without ART is just EH. It’s true. Movies, books, violin sounds, weddings, friendships, reconciliation, love. It’s all art. And without it, the world is nothing. Nothing meaningful at least. The world needs art. The world needs artists. And if everybody is an artist, that means you. The world needs people like you. You carry something that nobody else carries. Only you have experienced it, and only you can express it. YOU are an original. A masterpiece. And so the things that come from your hands will emulate such things. New songs, architect designs, book illustrations, photography website. Those aren’t gonna come from 1 person. It’s going to come from different kinds of people from different places all over the world. With different gifts and talents. And that includes you. Don’t leave this earth without leaving anything meaningful behind. Be what you want to see in this world.
See a problem? Be the solution. (Or the voice for the solution). See something you don’t like? Well don’t just sit there and criticize it, make something YOU like. Or make the original even better. Research it. Fix it. Remix it. Stand up against it. Get creative. Even if it’s not for you, it’s for somebody else. And somebody else in this world needs it. So change this world through your art. You’ll impact at least one. Write that blog post you’ve been dying to write. Paint that quote you’ve been so antsy to paint. Create what you want to see in this world. And if you can’t do it alone, get some like-minded partners. Collaborate. Make this world a better place. Because this world needs people like you.