What Artists Do

June 27, 2013 — 2 Comments
What artists do

What artists do

I like rebranding.

I like the word ‘rebranding’ because it carries a connotation of bringing new and fresh ideas to something (or someone) that needs an inside-out makeover.

And artists need rebranding.

Why? When we hear the word artist, we can’t hear it without baggage of some sort. Some of the baggage is positive–we think of words like ‘creative,’ ‘inventive’ and ‘imaginative.’ And we also may feel some negative baggage when words like ‘unemployed,’ ‘temperamental’ and ‘irresponsible’ come to mind when someone calls themselves an artist.

Artists are not painters, actors, designers, writers… they are, but they’re more than that.

What really makes and artist an artist?

Artists bring change. 

Artists challenge us.

Artists make our senses come alive. They give sight to dim eyes and open ears full of distraction and worry.

In an often numbing world, artists make us feel again.

***

To the…

  • Administrator answering the phones today
  • CEO making big decisions
  • Painter picking up the brush again
  • Roofer laying shingles
  • Actor reading for the casting director

…you are an artist of change. Your work is good.  (Tweet that)

Harlequin

Michelle Brea via Compfight

Sometimes I’m a people-pleaser. I think many artists are bent in that general direction.

As artists, we often want applause, recognition or just the satisfaction of knowing we’ve made a difference. None of those things are innately wrong…until they become an obsession.

I know I can be overzealous at times.

I want to be wanted.

I like to be liked.

And I pretend it doesn’t matter to me if someone doesn’t like me–but it does matter.

Why? Because making people happy makes me happy–that’s why I love humor–that’s why I love entertaining, writing and any type of creating that changes something in someone.

Laugh it Up

So how do we fix a people-pleasing mentality?

I don’t know, but the only thing I can suggest is a bit of humor for tempering.

In that light, I present to you three miserable attempts at people pleasing, compliments of my dayjob…

1. Refuse to call people by their actual, real-life names.

There’s someone at work who’s name I got wrong when I first met her. She gave me a look as if to say “and you’re our PR Manager?”Look well deserved.

I called her the wrong name again this past week–and I’ve known her for about six months now. Impressive? Prolly not? Continue Reading…

The pathway to living our artistic dreams has a lot more “have to’s” before all the “want to’s” come to fruition. 

We’ve all heard the story of the journey of a butterfly from caterpillar, to cocoon and then to emerging as a beautiful butterfly. But if that butterfly gets any assistance breaking free from the cocoon, it won’t develop the strength needed to fly.

Big magic - Grosser Zauber

Margrit via Compfight

It’s difficult to break free.
It’s not always pleasurable to toil.
It may even feel like wasted time–but we’re developing the strength to fly.

As a creative person, do you ever feel the same way? Continue Reading…

Belief Comes First

May 12, 2013 — 3 Comments

I know a handful of millionaires.

Though they’ve earned their greenbacks in different ways, they have one thing in common: confidence.

I don’t mean the brazen, teenage-like confidence that disgusts. They posses a humble confidence which exudes from the core of their beliefs.

Millionaires believe that…

  • They make good decisions.
  • They will continue to make good decisions.
  • They must continue to grow and learn.

They’re artists of decision-making. Continue Reading…

As creatives, we’ve got to ask ourselves a few pertinent questions from time to time.

  • What really fulfills me?
  • What do I have to give?
  • How do I sustain my creative projects?

They’re not easy questions for creative people to answer. We tend to be nonspecific in our desires, knowing we want something but not defining it succinctly.

We may have vague, foggy notions about what we want but as the sun starts to peer through the fog a pseudo-religious attitude craftily whispers “stop being so selfish! Why do YOU think you should get what you want? Be happy with what you’ve got.”

That’s #$%@!

What the world needs is people who are fully alive and who generously share themselves with others…artists. (Tweet that)

But sometimes it may seem easier to be unhappy and feel unfilled than to clearly define what we want.

Freedom / Coney Island Mermaids Parade 2007 / SML

See-ming Lee via Compfight

Do. Something. Differently.

When we try to answer those three pivotal questions listed above, we may get confused, frustrated or despondent for one simple reason: we don’t know what we want.

Or worse, we ramble on and on (and on) about a multitude of interests and desires, refusing to hone in on one place to start.

My 2 cents: start. Do. And do something differently.

I’ll start with what my answers would be…

  • What really fulfills me? Creating stories (via film, written word and/or acting) really fulfills me.
  • What do I have to give? I can give my talents and education that I’ve honed over the past 25 years to accomplish what fulfills me.
  • How do I sustain my creative projects? I can make that happen by writing 10 minutes everyday, auditioning and not overworking at my day job.

As we come fully alive in our creativity, we invite others to do the same.

***

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Today’s post is from a great college friend of mine, Jeremy Doan. After Jeremy read 14 Reasons This Artist Doesn’t Need Cable TV, he and I had a stimulating Twitter conversation resulting in me asking if he’d share his thoughts with you.

And I’m so very glad he did. Enjoy…

Jeremy’s bio: “I am the husband of Superwoman and a father of four part-time devil children (with another on the way). By day I work as a software engineer.  The rest of the time, I am an amatuer photography, a film-watcher, a book-reader, a music-listener, and a nature-experiencing. In other words, I am a short-talented Renaissance Man.”

Feel free to connect with Jeremy on Twitter.

I  don’t completely agree Andrew’s post “14 Reason This Artist Does Not Need Cable TV”. After reading it, I considered writing a snarky reply entitled, “14 Reasons Why Every Artist Needs Cable TV.” That would have been fun.

However, further contemplation revealed that I did not want to provide counterpoint to each of Andrew’s points, but to add some nuance to the overall spirit of the post. I agree (mostly) with this spirit. I even agree with several of his points. I particularly appreciate points 9 and 10—you do not need Cable to get the really good shows.

Thus, I took a break from my YouTube viewing to write a psuedo-reply.

Walden Pond and Greenwich Village

A key factor, possibly even the most important factor, for creativity is discipline. As Andrew has pointed out on many occasions, inspiration does not come by accident.

We have to seek it out.

Creativity involves work.

Creativity takes discipline and intentionality.

Creativity involves action–we either peer through the distractions, or prune them from the path. Thoreau found inspiration on Walden Pond. Dylan found inspiration in Greenwich Village. To a great extent, inspiration and creativity occur despite our surroundings. As William Blake says:

“I question not my Corporeal or Vegetative Eye any more than I would Question a Window concerning a Sight: I look thro [sic] it & not with it.” (From A Vision of the Last Judgment) Continue Reading…

Artists create for multiple reasons.

  • Some artists create for their own pleasure.
  • Some artists create for others.
  • Some artists create for profit, seeking to sell their work.

But there is one artist who creates for all those reasons and a myriad of others–this is the entrepreneurial artist.

the entrepreneurial artist

Photo Credit: Mark Mathosian

1. The entrepreneurial artist embraces obstacles as opportunities.

He knows that each challenge is an opportunity for breakthrough problem solving, leading to greater creativity, greater freedom and potentially greater profit.

2. The entrepreneurial artist fosters an environment of sustainability with his creativity.

She gives freely, charges freely, and shares freely. Continue Reading…

1. I value creating more than consuming.

2. I don’t need to put my mind in neutral that many hours per week.

3. Instead of watching the story happen, I’d rather be telling the story or sharing the story myself.

4. It never helped me accomplish my dreams.

5. Movement begets movement. No movement begets no movement. (Click here to tweet that)

6. I’ll accomplished more with the extra 520 hours (10 hour per week average) per year. That’s 21.66666667 days–ouch!

7. I have a daughter and I want to learn her and love her.

8. I need to train my ever-wandering attention span to focus. Continue Reading…

Humor is Creativity

April 1, 2013 — 2 Comments

My wife Sarah and I are featured in the April issue of Courageous Creativity! An intro from the editors:

“Have you ever considered that humor is essentially creativity? Check out stories and insights from TED speaker Hannah Brencher, renowned artist Chad Crowe, comedic writer and improv artist Lisa Warsinske, Indian classical vocalist Srivani Jade, multi-entrepreneurial duo Andrew and Sarah Zahn, poet Farah Abdul, and our two young minds, Madhurum Bhuvan and Nadiya Narula! All set to the backdrop of Devasmita Chakraverty’s keen-eyed photography.”

This fantastic ezine is put together by a wonderful group of professionals and we’re honored to have been part of this month’s publication.

Just click on the Courageous Creativity picture below to read the ezine. We’re on pages 18-22. Enjoy!

Thief

FotoChesKa via Compfight

Missing something?  

If someone crept into my home and stole something I loved, I’d not just want the stolen item back, I’d want to know…

  • Why was it stolen
  • Who stole it
  • How do I prevent this from happening again

As artists we can sometimes get discouraged and that discouragement can lead to procrastination, apathy and blocks that hinder our creativity.

In other words, discouragement robs us from creating, and consequently robs us of enriching the lives of others with our creativity. The result is that we may feel numb, uninspired and blocked–a victim of a discouragement robbery.

The antidote is simple, but not easy: ask a few basic questions… Continue Reading…