Without creativity in our lives, our surroundings would be blank canvases that would never be filled. Buildings would probably be sad, windowless grey blocks, and our closets would be packed with lifeless, formless clothing. Luckily, the original trailblazers of creativity, along with the artists of today have created a world filled with possibilities and fresh perspectives on every day life.
To keep our creative fires lit, sometimes we need wise advice from people who ventured through the unknown and have come out victorious. Through fashion, creating new art genres, photography and more, we establish and honor the pioneers of their crafts. With their wisdom and years of experience they work through the self-doubt and navigate through this enigma called creativity.
1. Stop Over Analyzing
Andy Warhol, the prince of Pop Art, famously once said, “I’m afraid that if you look at a thing long enough, it loses all of its meaning.” Any creator has at one time in his or her life been confronted with a giant roadblock in their creative process. Starting something that doesn’t feel right and staring at it mercilessly creates a discomfort between you and the flow needed for creativity to flourish. If confronted with a dilemma of a certain project, taking a break and working on something else give your brain time to refocus and see things clearly again. This is why the eccentric Andy Warhol was not only a pop artist/printmaker, he was also an advertisement illustrator, children’s book artist and movie maker (some movies of his consist solely of someone staring into the camera for hours at a time.). Looking at Andy Warhol, we can see that his eccentricity and vibrant color usage is what formed the beginnings of the new Pop Art era and redefined the art world as we know it.
Sometimes it’s best not to question what kind of creative flow that comes out of you, otherwise you’d miss your chance to step out and truly make something groundbreaking. For Warhol it was his giant Campbells tomato soup can painting that made him a legend.
2. Separate Yourself from Creativity
Elizabeth Gilbert, writer of Eat, Pray, Love, gave an inspiring speech about creativity and her new found fame. For years she was a fairly well known writer, but nothing could have prepared her for this golden monster she created from Eat, Pray, Love. With this wild success came questions about what was next, how she will ever top her last book and so on. In self-preservation mode, Gilbert talks about separating herself from her creativity and forgiving herself if she never becomes famous again.
“I needed to find a psychological construct to protect myself from my work. I needed a safe distance from me and my writing.” She then goes on to talk about her studies of various forms of Muses, an ancient spirit that helps the artist through the process of creativity. Without the pressure of being a tortured and struggling artist, Gilbert could wake up and start writing (when the muse happens to be around) and even blame the muse if things didn’t work out. Because of her new relationship with her “Muse” she doesn’t need the word “artist” and “suffering” to be synonymous anymore.
Creativity does not need to be a struggle if we realize that sometimes it’s productive and working with you, and other times it’s moved on elsewhere for the day. The idea of separating oneself and becoming familiar with creativity on a welcoming level can create a healthy boundary between you and self-deprecation for not achieving your best work on any given day.
(Speech can be seen here: http://www.ted.com/talks/elizabeth_gilbert_on_genius.html)
3. Inspiration in Reality
Cubism, of which Pablo Picasso is co-founder, is a way of deconstructing real life things, and rearranging them so the mind can see the same thing in a new way. It’s about taking the basic form of the human body or the fruit bowl (classics in traditional art) and creating jagged lines and new shapes to have visual interest on a subject that has been done a million times before. Picasso commented, “I look for inspiration in reality. Only reality powers my imagination and gives me new life.” Meaning without the natural and man made world, we as creators have nothing to be inspired by. When we pick a seemingly normal subject matter that may have been turned into a cliché over time, we are given a chance to attempt a new perspective. As artists, we shouldn’t be discouraged by the over used subject matter if it strikes a chord and is meaningful for our creative journeys.
(For more of Picasso’s works and quotes, visit: http://www.bcn.cat/museupicasso/en/picasso/conversation.html)
4. Pressure is Good
Perhaps counter intuitive to the natural flow of creativity, sometimes putting pressure on ourselves is quintessential for an outburst of genius. And maybe even more importantly, for getting something finally completed. There have been many forgotten projects and pursuits in peoples lives, and that is partially because not everyone is a self starter. Including Stan Lee, the comic book creator of Spiderman, The Hulk, and X Men (and many more) that put Marvel Comics on the map.
“I’m sort of a pressure writer. If somebody says, “Stan, write something,” and I have to have it by tomorrow morning, I’ll just sit down and I’ll write it. It always seems to come to me. But I’m better doing a rushed job because if it isn’t something that’s due quickly, I won’t work on it until it becomes almost an emergency and then I’ll do it.”
If this is the way most people work, the need to make deadlines is critical, especially for personal projects. It may be necessary to make deadlines with repercussions to encourage us to take the project on with energy and importance.
(Read the rest of Stan Lees interview here: http://www.pr.com/article/1037)
5. Stick with It
Annie Leibovitz, arguably the most famous fashion and portrait photographer of our time, found her passion early in life in a San Francisco art school. With a click of the shutter, Annie Leibovitz can capture fantasy, uniqueness and character in all her subjects. She has mastered her techniques by simply never giving up and continuously learning her craft.
“If you do something for a long time, it only gets more interesting, and I think that’s something that a lot of people shy away from; they don’t realize that if you stick with something, it gets more complicated, and it’s up to you to continue to grow it. You can have talent, but it can go away and you need to feed it.”
To feed our creativity also benefits our skills and knowledge about our subject. If Leibovitz didn’t continue to photograph, the chance to experiment with digital film and a whole new world of portrait photography, may not have been manifested.
(read the rest of her interview here: http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/entertainment/articles/2011-12/02/annie-leibovitz-pilgrimage-interview/page/1)
6. Simplicity creates Classics
Although flashy and contemporary art is in with the neon colors and odd shapes that command the fashion runways, sometimes simple and classic can be just as poignant and create a lasting memory. Due to the large amount of shock factor coming from our fashion industry, Coco Chanel (the pioneer of classic fashion) experienced many fashion designers doing too much and ultimately creating a bad product.
“If you move away from style, you have to start over and over again, it’s impossible. Unfortunately, this is what is happening at the moment. Some couturiers are really good couturiers but they change every week, and this is the reason why I’ve created my own style. I couldn’t do it if I had to come up with something new every week, you end up creating very ugly thing.”
Constantly channeling new innovative ideas can create a mess of half-made plans that are never fully realized. If we start from the basics, with clean lines and a solid foundation, it would help immensely in discovering our voice and sticking with what is important versus what is trendy.
(Read the rest of Coco Chanels interview here: http://fashionabecedaire.tumblr.com/post/16695026717/interview-translation-coco-chanel-on-fame-trousers)
7. Don’t Wait for It, Work for It
In a world of lottery winners and people being famous for the sake of being famous, it’s easy for the modern creator to envision oneself reaching great success and fortune with very little effort. The fact of the matter is, regardless of whether we’re in the 1500’s or the year 2013, working hard to achieve dreams is very critical. Leonardo Da Vinci, the artist, the inventor, the musician (and a million more titles) was a man of unquenchable curiosity, thus making him one of the most prolific men in history.
“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”
One cannot publish a novel if one hasn’t even written the first paragraph. One can’t become a ballet dancer without having set foot in a dance studio. Putting ourselves out there into the world, and being confident in our progress, can create the discipline needed for a successful creative life.
Photo credit: http://lifeandself.com