If you dream of a day in the future where you’ll make some art, know that there’s no better time than right now to start. This very minute. You don’t need much time, you don’t need fancy materials. You can take a pen and a scrap of paper and draw something, anything immediately in just 2 minutes. Seth Godin encourages us to merely begin: “With inadequate preparation, because you will never be fully prepared.”
Some day most likely means no day. Today is the best day for you to take action.
You don’t need anybody else’s permission to make art except your own. It’s challenging to ignore seemingly ‘helpful’ negative feedback and criticism from those around about your art. Criticism can cut deep, especially when sharing something as vulnerable as your first attempts (or any attempt) at making art. It could even stop you from making anything else, asking yourself “why AM I bothering making this when it’s not any ‘good’?” But good is subjective and irrelevant to the joy that comes from making art and feedback isn’t necessary to continue having fun making.
It’s best not to seek approval, criticism or even praise from anyone outside yourself. Tara Mohr in Playing Big describes that “Attachment to praise and avoidance of criticism keeps us from doing innovative, controversial work and — more simply — from following the paths we feel called toward, whether or not those around us understand or approve.” Seeking praise may mean editing your art to seek approval from others, instead of focusing on what YOU enjoy making.
Be your own cheerleader and advocate. Make art YOU like and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks because they’re not the ones making your art. Opinions are subjective thoughts, not facts. You only need to please yourself, which allows you to get on with the task of making art joyfully.
Do you spend any time standing still in your daily life or are you constantly rushing around like the White Rabbit from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland? If you’re always in ON mode, never disconnected from a device or other people, it’s harder to justify spending time making art. If you believe you don’t have the time to stand still, or to make any art then it will never happen.
“The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.” — The White Rabbit, Lewis Carroll
But the truth is you don’t need a huge block of time to make art. A 2 minute investment each day is all you need to get started (and it adds up significantly over time). We think we need to spend a bigger amount of time to make it worthwhile, otherwise what’s the point – Surely 2 minutes isn’t enough to make anything significant? But your art don’t need it to be significant for it to be a worth the time or effort investment. It’s much more important something gets made and that you had fun doing it.
Significance is overrated and is entirely subjective so it’s far better to judge how you feel once you’ve spent 2 minutes making art something compared to only thinking about it. Taking action brings feedback and clarity while thinking can bring fear, excuses and procrastination. So find a pocket of time to stand stand still and make something.
“Dig deep and return with a new interest”
“Let yourself be silently drawn to the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” — Rumi
How can you use your strange curiosities as inspiration for your art? Find robots fascinating? Draw them. Obsessed with a song? Play it while you make something. Got a favourite colour? Use only that colour. Hooked on a tv show? Draw while you watch.
If you don’t want to draw fruit in a bowl (because you’ve decided that’s what you should be drawing) then draw your passions. Make things that interest you. Don’t believe you have to draw or make art a certain way.
Whatever your loves, let them help pull you closer to your creativity.
While making art with no fixed rules or set objectives can be a freeing experience, sometimes you don’t know what to make next which can hold you back from starting anything at all. Setting yourself a project could help with getting unstuck because there’s a clear focus for making. When you know where you want to head, it makes it easier to make decisions along the way. And if the infinite possibilities of making anything feels too overwhelming, then a project approach to art making could be for you.
In the Art For All podcast, Danny Gregory and Ros Stendahl talk about the power of projects: “A project is a blueprint for your free time, a series of assignments that will add up to something grand when it’s done. But more important, will be really fun doing, getting there, making.” Stendahl explains “Whenever I do a project, I like to set parameters because I find that parameters not only focus you and make it more likely that you’ll achieve your goal of doing it every day, but they also help you discover more clearly what it is you’re looking for… you can create something substantial in a very brief time period.”
If you’re feeling even more adventurous, consider having multiple projects in the go at once. They could be similar and interlink or be vastly different and you rotate through working on them depending on your mood and interest each day. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in Creativity describes how a E. O. Wilson “typically works on several projects at once, using different methods. This again is a common pattern among creative individuals; it keeps them from getting bored or stymied, and it produces unexpected cross-fertilization of ideas.”
One project or several, it doesn’t matter the number of projects so long as you find it a helpful approach to get you regularly making your art.