It seems that the definition of an artist has been somewhat warped by the world of non-artists, as though it takes years of college and the completion of breathtaking masterpieces to be considered a true artist.
I don’t believe this.
I understand a true artist as a creative. An artist is simply someone who specializes in one creative conduit, such as painting or sculpting; a creative is someone who pursues the creative process in anything. They never stop reading, seeing, learning and creating. It is a mindset.
While the way to achieve this mindset may differ slightly for everyone, there are three universal steps and realizations that need to happen:
Educate yourself. Being a creative doesn’t necessarily take a degree, but it does take education. Decide what you’re interested in and learn about it. If you’re interested in creating cabinetry or a coffee table, then watch New Yankee Workshop. If you want to paint, study color theory and learn the different styles of painting and the motives behind these styles. If you want to write poetry or a novel, read, then read reviews, people’s analysis on what you’ve read and the real reason it was written. If you want to write music, learn how to play an instrument, listen to a ton of music, learn about music theory, listen to interviews with bands on what they really meant when they sang that line.
Dig deeply into the whys. Yes, it’s one thing to learn how to do something; it’s another thing to control those skills. The intake of art will inspire you and help shape and mold your personal style. If you're uninspired by it, stop and move on. Real art inspires people.
The learning process will also open you up to the ability to critique work, which is very important because you need to be able to critique your own work. Every art form involves the creation, critique and revision. Repeat the critiques and revisions until everything is perfect. If you find an element of your creation doesn't have meaning, then cut it out. Ask why for every note, screw and stroke. Bottom line: never stop learning how to manifest your creativity in different ways. Self-education is one of the most important things a creative can do.
Now that you have the skills to create, critique and control, you need to observe. Art is an expression of you: what you see, feel, touch, love, hate, hear, everything. If you don’t observe and take note of your surroundings, what's there to express?
Much of this observation is self-observation. Depression is a very inward-focused malady. Frankly, depression helps me create, because I'm observing my feelings and my struggles.
It's important to observe the outer world. At the mall, for example, observe the people around you: are they alive or just living? Do they have a purpose or are they lost? Are they struggling with the tragedies of life or do they eat from a silver spoon?
Motive defines most actions. Don't just say things; do them, and always ask why. Why could quite possibly be the most important question in civilization. It has given birth to philosophy, science and technology. It will also give way to inspirational analysis of the world around you, which you can translate into an expression of art.
Don’t give up
The people around you may never understand your creations. Your family members may be the ones who don’t understand it most. Creatives start out very personal and it’s hard to have the courage to put your work out there, but this is the greatest thing you can do. The observation of the expression of your personal analysis of the world around you provokes thought in the minds of its observers. Inspiration changes people and people change the world. Everyone can be creative but most times you will have trouble finding a reason why.
I’ve recorded an album, penned poetry, and written a short novella. I am neither famous nor do I seek fame. The reason creatives must keep creating, regardless of whether or not your creations meet many eyes or ears, is hope. You must create with hope that this will help someone or change someone for the better. You have to hope that your hard work will make a difference in someone’s mind, and that difference will be the difference between a dead earth with a dead-end population and a living, breathing, loving and thriving rock in the middle of space.
So if you’ve ever wanted to create something, do it and don’t stop.