Art and creativity are fascinating enigmas. An artist strives to create something beautiful (or sometimes ugly), or meaningful, or touching, or layered, or shallow, or simple, or complex, or elegant, or chaotic, or critical, or maybe even (somehow) all of the above. But what happens when the end result is received in a way that doesn’t match up with the artist’s intention?
Art is, essentially, a form of communication. It is the artist’s expression of some thought or message, whether simple or complex, in physical form— even if that physical form is temporary, such as is the case in theatre or performance art. (Then again, even a painting or sculpture is, ultimately, temporary.) However, because communication via art is indirect and therefore has an inherent abstractness woven into it, there is a non-zero chance that the artist’s message will not be fully understood, or misunderstood, or even missed entirely.
This is the risk of all art, taken by all artists. We cannot control how our art will be perceived by others. Through art, there is no guarantee of perfect communication, and therefore risk is an innate element of all artistic expression.
This element of risk might give some people the message that perhaps it’s better to give up before even starting, since there’s no guarantee that “success” can be achieved.
But ah… guaranteed success is not the pure purpose behind art. Is it? (If it is for you, I might suggest you re-examine your inner “why” which drives you to create.)
I believe art exists for its own sake, and we can benefit from it in a multitude of ways, independent from the successful (or even unsuccessful) communication of the artist’s intended message upon the receiver/viewer/audience.
Art can open a dialogue between people or communities with opposing views. Art can inspire. Art can teach. Art can cause introspection and searching. Art may cause us to rise up and take action. Art may leave us in awe. Art may move us to laughter or tears. Art is sometimes emotional and cathartic. Art is sometimes mental and intellectual. It can be philosophical or it can be whimsical. It can be humorous or serious.
The potential of creativity and art is limitless.
There are so many overlapping themes between humanity and art, is it really such a far stretch to propose that humanity IS a work of art? Perhaps art and artistic expression is inherently an extension of our own humanity.
Working on one’s artistic or creative side is, therefore, very much akin to working on the development of one’s own person (i.e. personal development), and in turn, a piece of the puzzle of working on the betterment of humanity as a whole. In other words…
Being an artist has a noble, greater purpose beyond the myopic self. Artists help sculpt humanity’s present and future.
Not that’s certainly an inspiring reason to create! 😉 <3
Because of the inherent nature of art’s relationship to risk, a good artist must ultimately learn the art of surrender.
…Surrender to the unknown, to the uncontrollable, and to the subjective world of experience and interpretation.
Learning to surrender, in both art and life, is something I’ve been working in and on myself.
One thing that has often held me back from diving deep into creative expression is tied to the element of control and the desire for perfection. I’ve learned that perfection, when it comes to art, is an illusion, and therefore I must surrender to that imperfection which exists in its place.
Done is better than perfect.
Create with love. …And let it go, with love.
Reflecting on the nature of and desire for perfection, perhaps it might even be rooted in a desire to evade criticism, judgement, or being misunderstood. If we create something perfect, we will (theoretically) be free from potential negative criticism and feedback, and we will be completely — perfectly — understood. After all, isn’t that something which all humans desire at our core: to be loved and understood?
But since perfection is essentially a myth in this subjective universe of art and creative expression, seeking perfect expression is a fruitless, impossible goal. I say this not to dissuade you or anyone from doing your best, but rather to free you from holding yourself to impossible and unrealistic expectations.
For example, I know this blog post is rather imperfect… perhaps it is overly verbose or rambling or meandering. It could probably use a bit more focus and structure. But hey, it’s published! It exists in the world. And an imperfect something is better than a would-be perfect some-day maybe which never ends up seeing the light of day.
Embrace imperfection. Embrace your self. (Because yes, we are all perfectly imperfect.)
Embrace who you are today and share your unique perspective with this world, imperfections and all.
You are a unique work of art.
There will never be anyone else like you.
All things, your self and your art included, are inherently temporary in this medium of space-time reality.
…So, good or bad, who cares what the critics think? It’s all subjective and temporary anyway. 😉