Make What You Love
I'm addicted to inspiration - as most artists are. For a long while I was subjected to a pretty long commute to work and I felt that the lovely life experiences from times past were eluding me. Gone were the days of random travels and adventures. Where was I going to find inspiration while traveling down the same long stretch of highway everyday? I finally wised up and started using that time to listen to podcasts. I became hooked on the ones from Entrepreneurs on Fire. Here I sought out the advice from those that were "making it happen" and in turn felt energized and positive as I returned to my tight time constraints as a professor / mom (and oh yeah artist).
Does this sound familiar to anyone? How can an artist not only survive but have an artistic practice that thrives in spite of the daily grind? I no longer have the long commute because I am now a full time mom (and artist). Just when I thought my window to work couldn't get any tighter! Now I find that I have to be even more positive and creative when it comes to time management. But even when I do have the time the long luxurious hours in the studio just aren't there. Every minute counts.
Maybe this is getting too personal but I've always believed that the more personal one is the more universal the message becomes. Drastic changes in one's life, whether that be my introduction to parenthood or any other experience that changes your perspective on the world as you know it, can lead to a lot of self-reflection. This forces you to evaluate priorities and examine the big picture. For an artist, change is good. Without it we cease to grow and our work needs growth to evolve, right?
Inspiration and motivation are crucial. But when you are working within constraints it can be hard to figure out how to light that fire when you do have a window to work. We are social beings and even if you are not the life of the party, it is only human to build our lives around relationships with others. It is how we form who we are. One piece of advice that has long stuck in my head was the importance of finding and communicating with like minds. I once heard that you should make a list of fifty people you would like to interview and send an email to see if they wouldn't mind sharing a bit about what makes them tick. Seek advice and inspiration from those that you look up to - mentors are a great thing. While I have not done that directly, I have started seeking out mentors in not so direct ways and am energized every time I hear the stories behind other people's artistic worlds.
Being held accountable is something that also helps when the going gets tough. When you are finding it hard to look past the routine that is your life find someone to hold you accountable to your creative self. If you can find a person who will check in with you and ask you what has inspired you today or what artistic pursuits you have been on this week then you will start to feel as though making time for yourself really does matter. I've tried this in the past and when the other person held up their end of the deal I always felt I should do the same. Great way to stay on track and push towards your goals.
And last, the piece of advice that has been whispered in my ear through numerous conversations lately, "make what you love". There is no point trying to make what you think might sell. Make something that comes from your authentic self and the rest will fall in line. So true. It is hard to get motivated when you aren't truly in love with what you are doing. Being true to yourself in what you create and sharing this passion with others is what it is all about. It is what we are meant to do. As artists we are lucky enough to have found our "calling" so why waste it. Make yourself light up and in the meantime enlighten others. Feed that inspiration addiction and invest in yourself - it's not selfish, it's a must! No matter what life throws at you, remember who you are and make what you love - the world will be better because of it.