A while ago I listened in on an conversation on the topic of creativity and originality and here are my thoughts on what was said. It’s a podcast with these two guys who both have what you could call creative jobs, self employed makers of fun and educational films, mostly working in a one man operation set up. They have been doing this for a couple of years and they didn’t really have any experience of that kind of artistic visual entertainment prior to that.
First of all I have to say I admire their courage, one of the guys just tried out making something and put it out there not knowing what to expect. Hoping but not really having any clue if it was any good or just kinda’ okay. I have always envied anyone who can do that. I don’t have that and I never had, I don’t remember a time before I had an advanced frame of reference on all the do:s and don’t:s of making practically any artistic or creative work. I’ve never had that unspoiled eye, sometimes I really wish I could have experienced that at some point in life. For a long time I was scared stiff making anything at all because I knew that nothing I made at that point could live up to the standards of what I knew was a good piece of art or entertainment, I knew all of my beginners mistakes long before I had made them and I just could not stop make them. I wasn’t a perfectionist and I don’t think I was hard on my self, I just knew what a good end result looked like and I knew what the process of creating that was but I hadn’t mastered the craftsmanship. And that annoyed the hell out of me! It felt so enormously liberating listening to these guys talking because this wasn’t even an issue for them. Sure they chatted about the feelings of uncertainly about whether or not their work made the measure and of realizing their prior mistakes as time passed and experiences gained. And that made me realize how wonderful that feeling of learning as you go along is, I’ve had that in other areas and it really is the greatest motivation!
The second thing and probably what rooted it self the deepest into my usually short and flickering attention span was the question of should you keep up to date with the work of others and what’s popular at the moment. They both agreed “No!”, a unanimous strong standpoint that it is for the best just doing your thing in your own way and not risk being colored by other peoples creations. To be certain to keep the uniqueness in your own creative voice, maybe once of twice a year scan the competition, get inspired and do a general keeping-up-to-date check up but not much more than that. This really got to me because I love that thought. I really want to be like that! I’m totally sold on the idea of creative independence, having a strong and unique artistic ore that springs from deep inside, a hail to creative solitude. But I know from experience I just can’t do that, it would drive me to insanity, and not the kind of charmingly mystic louring insanity, NO! No! No, its the pathetic depressed sobbing in to an ice cream bucket not having showered for two weeks and loosing all ability to do any work at all kind of insanity. I do the the exact opposite of what they preach, I watch everything! I see every picture or film clip I can get my eyes on. I read every book or text I can find. I’ll listen to every piece of music and every person talking. Not just new stuff either, I’ll go for scavenger hunts in 100 years old movies and in obscure cultural places like squeaky toys from Soviet Russia. If I didn’t restrict myself I could go for weeks and months just doing general research and keeping up to date without any specific goal other than the joy of the hunt. I do regularly take a few weeks just roaming free in that way. In my own experience the bigger my instream is the less likely I am to fall in the copycat trap, when the mass of it become large enough every single thing will make less of an impact. What happens is that patterns start to emerge, key elements that you never would have noticed in a smaller number of pieces collected.
I have without a doubt struggled all my life with these questions, literally all my life as long as I can remember. I do not think it was something brought upon me by someone in specific, it was just me learning to much to soon. A gift and a curse. I never thought I would do artistic work for a living, I thought that would always just be a thing on the side, I thought it wasn’t for me. Not because I couldn’t do it in any objective sense of measuring, but because I couldn’t make the end result like I wanted it to end up. I was surrounded by pro’s and freekin’ geniuses! I never knew how it was to draw some mash-up with crappy baby crayons and doodling with a grownup that struggled just as hard making a dog or a smiley face. I got fancy aquarelles, moaré kits and charcoal sticks, and I had my mom’s absolutely extraordinary pieces of art that really would belong in a museum surrounding me, and not just hers.. there were all these magnificent people with absolutely fabulous gifts surrounding me. It was a lovely experience but in time I realize that.. from every experience gained there is some other experience made impossible. And when people open my eyes to those impossible experiences it changes and enhances the way I perceive life. Thank you!