When I was a little girl, my older sister would always make me have drawing contests with her.
She was a great artist, and I could barely draw stick people. So I grew up believing I was not a creative or artistic person, because to me creativity meant that you had to be good at it.
Fast-forward 25 years and finally I am realizing that every single person is creative, in some form—whether they realize it or not—and that being creative doesn’t mean being good.
I can still hardly draw legible stick people, but I can create magical and imaginative photographs, I can paint on a cat’s eye liner like Cleopatra, and I can paint terribly but with passion. I can do a lot of things—some badly and some well.
The point is, I am being creative—and most of all, I enjoy it.
One of the things I hear most often since openly calling myself an artist is people telling me they are not creative and putting me on a pedestal. Most people tell me they can’t write like I can or they can’t take photos like I can. The most puzzling thing about those statements is that when I ask them if they have ever tried, their response 9 times out of 10 is no.
How can you possibly know if you can do something if you have never even tried?
How can you be good at something if you have never practised?
Here is a secret I really want to share with you: how we live our lives is essentially a form of creativity. Yes, you are creative!
How you choose to dress yourself, how you style your hair, how you decorate your home, how you kiss, how you make love—it’s all a form of expression, and creativity is exactly that. Art in any form is not about how good you are, it’s how it makes you feel.
I think what most people are saying when they say “I am not creative” is that they are not inspired. So I am going to give you a list of things that help inspire me to have a good, terrible, amazing, awfully creative and artistically juicy life.
Follow people who inspire you.
This is a funny one. For some people, it’s pretty obvious. If you look at anything around you, it was created from the idea of something else. Nothing came from nowhere. Everything around you is essentially other things built upon other things.
Ideas come from other people’s ideas. They come from living structures, from life itself. I can’t tell you how many times I have looked through photo albums from great artists and suddenly had endless ideas pouring out of me. Sometimes I listen to a song and it puts me into just the right mood to write something beautiful. There are many different ways to be inspired. Figure out how you get most inspired, whether visually, musically, find people who do that and follow them. Just remember that it is even okay to recreate, but it is never okay to steal.
Become a beginner.
This goes with what I said earlier. If you don’t try painting, how can you become a painter?
Don’t be afraid to be a beginner, and especially do not fear being terrible at something. Don’t be afraid to succeed at something either. Even if you never become the next Matisse, if it makes you feel good, keep painting, or writing, or sculpting or whatever it is that makes you smile a little brighter. Try new things, fail at new things, succeed at new things, just do new things!
Befriend new people.
There is this pretty common belief that we should surround ourselves with like-minded people. I’m going to tell you now that although being around people who share our same values, beliefs, likes and wants is motivating in some ways, it is also keeping us small in other ways.
What would happen if someone brought new ideas to the table? New perspectives? Things that challenged us?
We may despise some of the things that challenge our core beliefs, but at the end of the day we would be a little more inspired. I think having friends with different backgrounds, belief systems and dreams can help inspire us and open us up to things we may never have thought of otherwise.
Be open to new and different—that’s where great ideas come from.
Create in every mood.
This was the hardest for me to learn. I used to think that I could only create when I was in a certain mood. Being depressed is commonly romanticized for artists. I wouldn’t write if I didn’t feel the “itch” and in turn, books have been left unwritten for years because of it.
If you wait for inspiration to strike you to do anything, you will most likely never finish anything. The best part about starting no matter what mood you are in, is the result is always a surprise.
I remember that when I first started learning to create in every mood, my photos would have different looks and feelings to them. They started touching more people and they started inspiring me more than anyone else could. If you push yourself to create no matter how well or badly it turns out, you feel good afterward and it gets easier and easier to create the more you do.
Who knows what creative treasures hide in each emotion.
Forget your process.
If you saw the process of how everything was created, every movie, every painting, every sculpture, every song, you would most likely not be nearly as impressed by it as you are in not knowing.
We forget that no one sees the process of our creations and because we did, it takes the magic away. The problem with that is that we are less likely to share what we create and we don’t think it is as good as it actually is.
When people see my photos, they see the end result; the masterpiece. They didn’t see the 40 layers in Photoshop or the 300 outtakes it took to make it what it was. I’ve learned to see the end result and not think about what it was before that.
Forgetting your process doesn’t mean forgetting your growth and things learned, it simply means look at what you have created in the end as if it is the first time you are ever seeing it.
Most importantly, know that your creativity is yours, and it doesn’t have to be good. You don’t have to share it with anyone or you can share it with the world. That everything you do takes some form of creativity, whether you are a barber, a home builder or a chef, and that there are so many ways to express yourself.
Your life is your biggest creation, and you have a say in the masterpiece it becomes.
Author: Amy Makortoff
Editor: Erin Lawson