As artists, it is our job to create work that has meaning. We are the myth makers of our time. Our work explains the unexplainable and gives us a roadmap for our daily lives. If this sounds like hefty responsibility that’s because it is. But what the hell does creating work that matters in fact mean?
To be honest, I’m not sure there’s one definitive answer. I say this because I feel that when we craft the work that excites us, it all starts from a deeply personal place. At least it should. We are moved to say something, to express an opinion about something. That means our art should be saturated and infused with our identity. Sometimes that opinion develops out of the sheer nature of exercising the creative muscle.
Here’s a great example. I started a photo series called “At the Table”. We do most of the podcasting for The Composite Creative at my dinner table. I thought it would be a great idea to create simple, yet bold, portraits of the folks we interview for our records and promotional purposes. I found an old blanket of Mandy’s that has a unique texture for a background. Popped two speed lights up on stands and sat my subject down at the table. Voila!
What started out as nifty idea for portraits quickly turned into an opportunity to capture and tell stories about the fascinating people I meet. I didn’t start out with the idea I needed to create work with meaning. And yet, meaning emerged during the process.
I found that I had something to say about the individuals at my table. I was passionate about the message and that passion drove me create more portraits. The project quickly took on a life of its own and I branched out from not just the people we interviewed but to friends, acquaintances, co-workers and neighbors.
“At the Table” forced me to create with only the materials I had on hand. I connected with the subjects in a more profound way than I had with other normal clients. Then I found myself motivated and jazzed about the work. I needed to create. Light bulbs weren’t merely going off in my head. They were exploding all over the place. I had inadvertently stumbled onto work that matters. It’s work that matters to me. Work that is begging to be created.
If your work is getting stale and you need a refresher, write down the things in which you have a strong opinion. Then create something around that opinion. It’ll force you to come up with a way to express it. It’ll hurt your brain space, but it’s totally worth it. Be the myth maker. By expressing your opinion in your art no matter how big or small, you become the compass in our daily lives.
If you’d like to see some more of my “At the Table” series, hop on over to my Instagram account for a peek.