Claim Your Role as Artist
At 8:00 a.m. every Sunday morning, I am in front of my computer with a hot cup of Bulletproof coffee, waiting for the latest post from Brainpickings to appear. This site is an amazing resource for anyone interested in art, writing, creativity, philosophy, design, and more, and I highly recommend it as a way to dive into Maria Popova's beautifully curated explorations of creativity—what it is, what makes it happen, and why it's important for our survival as a species. Recently, a Popova, wrote about Lisa Congdon's book Art, Inc.: The Essential Book for Building Your Career as an Artist. This book addresses a topic many of my clients struggle with: the challenge of calling oneself a creative, or an artist, or a writer, or whatever the appropriate label for your creative endeavor might be. I work with an amazing artist who has taught school for 36 years, but now retired is loath to call herself an artist. Even though she now works full-time on her art and has a stunning body of work! I have another client who calls herself a closet writer, even though she writes volumes every day. I could go on with the stories. People say to me all the time, oh I love to read (watch movies, go to art museums, etc.), but I'm not creative at all. I have dedicated myself to debunking this widely-held notion that only some people are blessed with the gift of creativity. As I've said in a previous blog post, everyone is creative! All the time!
I have come to understand how important it is to claim your particular label of artist if you do, in fact, want to be an artist/creative; I've seen the sky-rocketing of output that happens when someone makes the bold claim about who they are creatively, which is to say, essentially. It's an existential rallying call to the universe. And the universe responds!
Popova says this of the author: "Congdon didn’t grow up dreaming of being an artist, nor did she have even a hobbyist’s art practice until her thirties when, struggling to recenter after an eight-year relationship ended, she picked up a paintbrush for the first time since middle school. She took a painting class at the local university’s continued education department and quickly fell in love with art, eventually going from 'someone with no art experience and a very basic skill set to someone who now has a full-time career drawing and painting'.”
She quotes Congdon: "What felt different about art from former pursuits was that I was motivated by something I hadn’t experienced before: an intrinsic desire to create. It was deep-seated and primal; once I discovered it, I had to make art like I had to breathe. From this passion came a desire to expand my skills, even in areas that were out of my comfort zone. I taught myself to use new media and techniques and practiced for hours and hours until my hand felt like it would fall off."
And here's the clincher for closeted artists, or for those of us uncomfortable with claiming the role of creative: "One thing I know for sure is that to be a successful artist, you must start with the simplest proclamation: I am an artist. It’s a basic assertion, but seeing yourself as an artist — legitimate and genuine — can be transformational."
This book is inspiring because it reminds each of us to embody the role we want to experience in life. Don't muddle through your days yearning to be a writer, a zen gardener, a photographer—some day. Claim the role; step into the role; then practice the role with every breath you take.
It's time. LifeArt Studio is here. Come join us.