Steal Like An Artist

Navigating the waters of inspiration can be tricky. Every artist faces a storm of questions when it comes time to pick up the tools of the trade and produce. What do I say that hasn’t already been said? How do I create something original? What’s the deal with inspiration? How do I find motivation? Do I have any business being an artist? What’s my purpose?

[btx_image image_id=”97″ link=”/” position=”left”][/btx_image]The expectation to be original is crippling. Winds rage against the tiny ship carrying our creative ego. All we can do is hope for a break in the clouds and ray of light to show us the way. For the seasoned artist and the aspiring artist alike, I’ve got an idea to part those clouds and set you on the path to some smooth sailing. Well, smoother sailing anyway. I mean, let’s face it, anything easy isn’t worth doing.

 

What’s my idea? Well, when I struggle to come up with new ideas for jobs or personal projects, I simply steal. Easy now. I’m not talking about blatant robbery and copyright infringement. I don’t just rip off some else’s work. I deconstruct what they did and recreate something similar to the best of my abilities. In the process, I usually come with so many other ideas. In other words, the nature of getting off my butt and doing something almost always leads to more ideas which leads to more work. See where I’m headed? Get off your ass and do something. Anything.

“WORK, OF ANY SORT, WHETHER PAID OR SELF-CREATED, BEGETS WORK.”

My father says that work begets works. For years I got this completely wrong. I used to think, “Great! I just need to get a paying gig and that will lead to more paying gigs.” While that is true, I missed the point of this particular sentiment all together. The wording really should be: work, of any sort, whether paid or self-created, begets work. And when you need help or a little push to put a little wind in your sails, look at your contemporaries. If you see a work of art, or a song, or a photograph that inspires the classic statement, “I wish I had created that,” then go create it. If you sit around waiting for that bolt of lightning from the inspiration gods, you’re going to be waiting a long time.

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There’s a major bonus for taking this approach. You’ll learn something. You’ll learn something about yourself, the world around you, and the craft you love. When a guitarist first begins his musical journey, he learns the songs that first inspired him to pick up his instrument. A painter studies and learns the ways of the masters. Often times mirroring the waves of their genius until they become masters of their own voice. That’s the creative process.

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So, what’s the point to this? We all get into ruts, creative and otherwise. We let our seemingly lack of drive, inspiration, or purpose leave us adrift at sea. But it doesn’t have to. That is the very struggle of what it means to be an artist and human. There isn’t one right way, one single path to solve this never changing problem. The only way to weather the storm is to batten down the hatches and create.

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