Being a creative has been one of the most tumultuous journeys of my life. There is little by way of certainty and then comes the realization that it will always be this way. Deciding to be an artist is a step you take when you know that there is no other way to live (for you). It isn't something that anyone should jump blindly into. You have to know the risks and decide that though it will presumably be a maddening journey, it's what makes your soul feel at peace.
I've come to learn myself as a creator. I'd get ideas of concepts that I wanted to bring to life that didn't always fit into poems, although I tried settling with the titles "poet" and "writer". I never only wanted to write and perform, I wanted to try everything that caught my attention. I was attracted to the messiness of painting along with the vibrant colors that always seemed to transcend any mood it was manipulated to fit. I was drawn to the way film could capture and magnify regular life in beautiful cuts. I fell in love with the way certain songs could hijack my heartbeat and make me feel things I would never voluntarily permit myself to feel. I became intrigued with the thought that my hands, although attached to the body in control of my meager life, could possibly create things that were so far beyond who I had come to know myself as. I never dreamed that merely acting on those small moments of inspiration would bring me here.
In a much needed pep talk after deciding that I wanted to create for a living, I told myself that "sometimes, self proclaimed is all you need to get started". Although, in the moment, it felt like something I was telling myself to pacify my debilitating fears of failure, it would be the smile inducing afterthought of every new self taught venture I'd find myself dabbling in.
" Sometimes, self proclaimed is all you need to get started."
It really has your emotions all over the place sometimes and it's important to be in tune with yourself enough so that you can differentiate your moods and traits from those caused by your creative frustrations. I spent this entire past week trying to lift myself out of an exhausted funk and while I tried to create through the feelings, I wasn't satisfied. It was important to not accredit the lows I was feeling to my art although I was tempted to. Internalizing things will drive you over edges that you never even knew you were close to. But I'm learning that it is also important to feel these things as they come, for a couple reasons:
1) Denying them brings more pain than they bring themselves.
2) They're the dark places that show you how brightly your light can shine.
I think the problem a lot of artists face pertaining to inspiration is that they try to separate their creative side from their real lives and the space they put between the two is evident in their art. You can sometimes see and feel the detachment in the music, the visuals, the lifestyle. I've done it - still do, occasionally. While I don't think there is a right or wrong way to create, I do think that we often try to protect ourselves from the very things sent to set us free.
I admire raw skill. It's not something I think I have in any of my crafts - maybe with the exception of writing but I've been doing that since about 2002 so it's hard to tell what's raw and what is a result of practice. The rawest thing about my art is my passion and the way I'm inspired. It's hard to explain it but the way my mind overworks plays a huge role in the way I perceive the things I see/ hear/ feel and while it works for my art from time to time, it's painful in my regular life. Those overthinking, over-analytical tendencies that drives me to sabotage friendships and relationships are my greatest allies, creatively.
I'm sincerely "sensitive about my shit". Saying that always gets a few chuckles in response for any creative but for so many of us, it's the realest shit we'll ever quote. It's not just sensitivity by way of criticism but in everything.
In the middle of my last project (TBYC), I saw a couple creatives in my area take bits and pieces from my promotional material and copy it (verbatim) for their own projects. I won't lie, it did make me feel a way. Not as far as competition goes as I don't compete with my fellow creatives. I will always believe that there is enough success and inspiration and opportunities to go around several times. I also am a firm believer in that "what is for me will always be for me". It made me feel a way because what they were taking a few days to replicate took me 9 months to plan and execute. It didn't take me 9 months to come up with a good idea, it took me 9 months to sit with my concept, to plan it out, to involve other creatives who helped make it happen, to sync schedules with busy individuals, to revamp parts of it and allow it to evolve. It took me 9 months to decide that the direction I was taking this idea would satisfy my vision for it and to see it all through while fighting discouragement from all sides. What I took 9 months to birth, others took 3 seconds to see and decide that they liked it enough to redo it exactly as it had already been done.
I kept hearing "nothing is original" and while I know that to be true, in essence, I only ever hear it from those creatives who don't take enough time to allow their inspiration to evolve past what they saw/ heard another creative do. It took me some time to accept and move past this enough to not allow it to make me dislike these individuals but it still taints their creative integrity in my eyes and it does make me not want to work too closely with them. Forgive me for being human enough to feel that way. I don't knock anyone's art. I know the kind of faith it takes to put yourself out there for the world to see and potentially rip to shreds. I know what lacking inspiration feels like (even while having several projects in my queue). I've also grown to learn to not knock the most "unoriginal" art, even if it was "inspired" by me in whatever way because:
1) What is for me (won't stop being for me because of those who potentially try to intercept it) will always be for me.
2) I know what it's like to be lacking inspiration/ direction.
3) It inspires me to level up.
I've consistently tried to emphasize my humility so those who don't know me personally won't think I'm full of myself but it no longer pleases me to do so. You will know a tree by the fruit it yields so I'll allow my work to speak for me.
I'm honored to be an artist. As cliche as it sounds, I feel like it's something that chose me, as it has so many others that I've been blessed to meet, know and learn from. Through the frustration, the moments of uncertainty, the times when I wish I would have gotten my degree and gone to law school instead; I'm still learning who I am, what I'm capable of and that there is little outside of my reach.
This process isn't a polished one. In everything I do I aim to be true to my passion, not let the money dictate my direction and protect my creative integrity at all costs. I hope it's enough to take me to my top.