Hi, I am Lynsey, a woodworker based in Salt Lake City. I create one of a kind housewares and décor for a modern home. I had the opportunity to write a short essay on a topic of my creative interest right here, for CYL Collective. Today I wanted to focus on the idea of creating for the sake of creating, or art for arts sake. I hope this topic will resonate with creative professionals and artists who are making for a living or have the goal of taking their art full time.
What do I mean creating for the sake of creating? Creating for the sake of creating is literally trying any media or form of art just because it interests you. It could be weaving, ceramics, calligraphy, sewing, woodworking, carving, painting, drawing, just to name a few. I feel this is a vital tool for getting creative juices flowing, developing new ideas, and improving one’s work. The important distinguishing factor is that these are projects and activities are just for you. These are projects that you indulge in, steal time for, make time for, create and then move on. These are not pieces that, at least right off the bat, you monetize, publish to social media, or do for anything other than just for fun. Remember that? Doing art projects for fun. Being open to new art forms, to be challenged in new ways, and to open your mind and allow more creativity is important to your mental health and to your work.
As artists and makers I feel like there is a ton of social, and personal, pressure to have anything we make be perfect and sellable. I see so many artists with titles such as Photographer, Ceramicist, Spoon Carver and Pastry Chef. My first thoughts are amazement that such talent can come from one person, a bit of envy that she can do it all, and then reality sets in. Is she doing it all well? Is she creating something new, something we haven’t seen, pushing boundaries and pushing herself? Or is everything mediocre because she is stretching her creativity too thin and confused about what she really wants? I am the first to admit, I have been that person. I studied Industrial design and spent five years doing large-scale visual display and art installation. During that span of five years I also did woodworking, stationery, tried calligraphy, fiber art, even origami. What I realized about that time was that if I had allowed all of those activities to influence my art installations and woodworking instead of making them be competing and separate creative jobs I would have been a better and more creative artist. In each of those creative ventures I treated them like a job instead of a personal hobby, so in a lot of cases I stopped enjoying them. We do not need to sell everything we make! It doesn’t make you a more valuable designer to sell the one weaving you made last year when you thought it would be fun but realized it wasn’t for you. It does a disservice to the professional weavers and also to your work. Try it because perhaps through weaving the technique or textures will influence a design for your next series of paintings. If down the road you feel it fits your creative identity and brand, then by all means expand your line.
Most artists live many creative lives and it is important to do so, it is in our nature to be exploratory and to change. Just to be clear I am not advocating that an artist should be good at only one thing forever. I am suggesting that you try everything, to allow a new activity to influence you work, to expand it and improve it. Try to see that new activity as more than what it tangibly is. For example, I am currently taking a wheel pottery class. Every Monday night for three hours, two girlfriends and I show up, let clay and water fly in an attempt to make a variety of bowls and mugs. I am terrible, struggle to get my clay centered on the wheel and can’t pull a wall up for the life of me. It has been a little frustrating and a lot of fun. I wouldn’t give my mom anything I have made, but what I have gained are some new ideas to mimic the delicacy of pottery in my woodworking. Being open to inspiration is critical. This is where ideas come from, not endless hours on pinterest or blogs. While those are important tools too, all to often it really doesn’t serve as anything more than a vehicle to compare your work to others. Be open! Say yes to trying new things, you owe it to yourself. Try a 5 minute quick charcoal drawings or photograph the sunrises and sunsets for the next 10 days. Creating for the sake of creating takes the pressure off. Who cares if your charcoal drawing is terrible, no one because you did it just because. When there is less pressure surrounding an activity creative thoughts form more freely and have the ability to serve as inspiration in your work.
Turning inspiration into new work is a common challenge for artists. I think there are very few artists who truly consider themselves uninspired. We are a group of people who are fortunate enough to be observant of even the smallest things. It is the ability to turn these small inspiration moments into the big idea that can be a challenge. Since we can’t pinpoint when and where a new idea will develop we often suffer from creative droughts or roadblocks. Instead of sitting down with a sketchbook hashing through already cast off ideas or looking what is on the market that you haven’t made, try not doing your craft for a moment. Take a break. Take a day, or two or three off and explore. Try that creative practice you have been thinking about, or talk to an artist friend about her work and technique. It is so fascinating to hear about other people’s process and those ideas, words, and works often have the ability to start the ball rolling on a new creative idea.
Creating for the sake of creating is a solid design and development tool that I hope you will add to your tool box. Before I sign off I want to add a final note, which is of kindness. Be kind to yourself. A lot of ideas suck. Be kind to others. A lot of their ideas suck. Realizing and recognizing this also gives you an advantage in that many people are too afraid to create because they are afraid to fail. Fail. Fail hard and fail often. Try out those new creative activities; let them inspire you to create. If you fail at a concept that comes from the activity, so what, you are lucky to count yourself among the people that have any inspiration at all. Support yourself and support others by serving as an inspirational force and be open to receive their inspiration as well. Now go and do. I am wishing you all the magic that creativity brings.
to see more of Lynsey's work visit her website