It is such a busy time of year, isn't it? How many of you are like me and struggle to find a balance between the work that requires creativity and a process, and the work that is deadline-driven and, simply put, just needs to get done right now?
Last week, I found achieving that balance particularly challenging and it got me to thinking about what it is like for artists who need to be immersed in a creative process, and yet somehow also have to find a way to get the work pushed out on time for an exhibit or a buyer?
My curiosity about this is timely, as it is our 40th anniversary Studio Fair this weekend at the Civic Centre, and with over 100 participating artisans, I can only imagine what it must be like to shift gears from producing work at a pace that suits one's personal preference, into a full-blown creative assembly line running at top speed!
So I decided to do some field research and I met with the folks behind the Groop Gallery / Ridge Side Art enterprise, Melanie Desjardines, Christina Watts and Philomena Hughes. I felt I also needed some visual inspiration to help combat the greyness of this time of year, so I headed down to their 3rd Avenue location. And what a great discussion we had. It was a real "groop" experience!
I tried my best to take notes, but the conversation was fast and everyone was having their say that day. Here are some of the best comments. Re-reading them now, I find it interesting that I, as a non-artist, can see aspects of this process in my work life. Do any of these apply to you?
"Panic and anxiety and fear are part of the creative process, but another part is to let those emotions take you where you need to go."
"There needs to be a sense of play, and a sense of love, for an artist to carry on."
"Sometimes to start you have to keep it simple, and let the creative process carry you."
"In today's busy world, one almost has to plan to be creative, which may mean setting deadlines or absorbing your creative process into family or other work schedules."
"It really comes down to making time."
"Knowing when to stop is an interesting challenge. Sometimes it is a difficult question to answer; sometimes it is an "ah-hah" moment."
"Getting some new work toys can really spark your enthusiasm."
"An artist's studio is as every bit unique as the artist's work."
"Validation is a key to keep moving on. Knowing that your work has been embraced and is on display in someone's home or in a public space helps give the strength to keep going."
During the conversation, I noted that all four of us were all over the map when articulating the kinds of feelings and emotions that were associated with our work processes. We talked about happiness and sadness, power and trauma, strength and weakness, and so on. And it got me wondering whether creative endeavours enable us to traverse a wide range of emotions, or is that putting the cart before the horse?
I thought about my own life and about how my personal growth really was about experiencing extreme high points, and surviving some equally extreme low points. After all, can one appreciate being happy, if one has never acknowledged feeling sad? And could this also mean that the particular neurosis of an artist then serves as the primary source for his or her creativity? Or maybe an artist doesn't wish to grasp the true nature of his or her creativity, but wants to just continuously draw from the well of inspiration - without ever needing to peer down into the darkness.
But in the end, we all keep plodding through these very busy times, and whichever tool you choose to measure your success, whether it be sales, reviews, or just how good you feel about yourself at the end of a long day in the studio or in the office, there is nothing better than knowing you accessed that profoundly unique and personal sweet spot called inspiration. And in the words of William S. Burroughs "cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to shortchange the Muse. It cannot be done. You can't fake quality."
To all the wonderful local artists here in Prince George, I just want to say that no matter how you get your work done, just keep doing it, because our community is all the better for it.