I decided to illustrate this article with a picture that I took of the center of a line of staples. It looks like a mysterious tunnel leading from a place of darkness to a place that is bright and clear. If we think of the tunnel as a metaphor for our artistic journey, we begin to realize that along the way to achieving our goals we will stumble, learn and grow. If we can see a clear vision for our art, the message we have chosen and keep focused on this, we feel like all of our temporary frustrations will eventually result in success. Sometimes, artist’s struggle with a clear and definite vision for their work. You can read countless art history books and magazines searching for other artist’s to both influence and inspire you. The search online for websites that feature hot up and comers who are presently making waves in the art world with their unique style is a constant and arduous one. Feelings of irritation arise as you struggle to define yourself and get a handle on the marketplace. You try to figure out where you fit in and who is looking to purchase the type of work that you are producing. While getting a degree in Art (a Bachelors in Fine Art or a Masters in Fine Art) has it’s advantages in that you are made aware that you need your own website, a bio (biographical information about the artist, your particular style of work and who influences you to create the work that you do), curriculum vitae (where and when you got your education, training etc.) and portfolio, it does not necessarily help you to decide what you are passionate about or what message you want to convey through your chosen medium. Unfortunately, this is often a solitary journey that you must take in order to find out who you are and what is important to you. Some people may have a mentor to help steer them in a certain direction during the early years of their career; however, this does not guarantee that they will stick with this message or genre. People may get many ideas, but not feel particularly tied to any of them or they may have significant success in painting or photographing landscapes, floral, or figurative work then find out mid career they are bored and want to move on, but they don’t know where they want to take their work or what they want to do. These kinds of experiences can wear at your creative spark leaving you feeling directionless. Although the shot gun approach never works for anyone, you shouldn’t have to corral yourself to the point of being limited by perceived or self enforced limitations. If you ever get to this point and some of us inevitably will, consider some of these suggestions to help you out of your creative situation. In formulating your own unique vision, it is necessary to discover who you are at this point in your life…:
1. Make a List –
Try making a rough list (hint: don’t edit yourself) of all of the things that you like and don’t like. If you are incredibly patient, write this down in your list; if your are impatient and bore easily, make sure to take note of that. It is necessary that you discover your true creative personality because this will eventually determine which style is best for you to work in.
2. Look at other artist’s that you admire and that have inspired you recently-
What is it that you like about their art?
Why does their particular style or subject matter appeal to you? What inspires them to create their individual brand of work? What are they trying to say with their work? Is this the type of work you might aspire to? Ask yourself why?
3. Take an honest look at the causes you are involved in as a source of subject matter or inspiration for your work-
For example, maybe you like to contribute you time to an animal shelter and would like to help find people to adopt stray animals. You could use this as a reason for producing expressionist portraits of the animals that need homes. Perhaps you contribute your time to helping the elderly or homeless and would like to make paintings, sculpture, photography, etc that addresses these issues.
4. Do research into specific schools of painting, drawing, sculpture,or photography-
Perhaps a certain philosophy or style appeals to you and you believe you can expand on that.
It is important to know why you create the art that you create because then you can set your own artistic goals around this information as well as tailor you style to the overall feeling that you are trying to convey in your work.
I hope that this helps you in your creative endeavors. If you have any ideas or suggestions about how to help others or how to give them direction in this area please feel free to comment.