As artists, not creating is not an option.
It’s an essential part of our lives that, even when we’re not as prolific as we’d like to be in making art, manages to seep into almost everything we do anyway.
Every thought, every gesture, every action and interaction, is influenced by our creativity.
One of the fundamental reasons we’re driven to constantly create is the need to connect. These connections fall into three main areas, or put another way, help us build three pathways.
Let’s take a closer look at each, and how important they are in your creative life.
1. Creating to connect with others.
This is probably the most obvious pathway. We create to connect with other people, to share our ideas, our stories and our vision of the world.
By creating the work that’s most real and true for ourselves, we hope to find others who have similar feelings, share similar outlooks, and experience the world in ways that we do.
We need to feel less alone, so we reach out. As artists, and as human beings.
Another way we feed this impulse to connect with others is by seeking and absorbing their work too, so we’re having a continuous, flowing conversation through the work.
Sometimes this might be a direct two way interchange – we might create a piece in response to, or specifically inspired by, the artwork of someone else – and they might do the same, and the dialogue might run back and forth for years.
Often though, the sources of our inspiration will never know how they inspired us, just as we’ll never know how much we inspire others, just by showing up and sharing. Showing up to create our most important work, then sharing it with the tiny corners of the world that want and need and are hungry to experience it.
Even if we don’t know exactly who we’re connecting with, and how we’re connecting with them, the drive to create to connect with others remains a powerful motivation.
How do you create to connect with others?
2. Creating to connect with source.
The second pathway we create to travel further down is one which I’m going to refer to as “source”.
You most probably call this something different, and many others have their own name for it too. But the desire behind it to connect is much the same.
We create to connect to something bigger than ourselves, something deeper, wider and more alive than we are most of the hours of most of our days.
We recognise that we are human, and mortal, and each just a tiny droplet in an ocean that itself is a tiny droplet in an larger ocean.
But despite sometimes feeling entirely insignificant – or indeed because we often feel so small and insignificant – this drive to connect to the source is insistent and unquenchable.
Remember the last time you were creating in full flow, completely lost track of time, and resurfaced hours later a little dazed and rather amazed at what you’d felt and what you’d created?
These kind of experiences are the most obvious examples of connecting with source – becoming a channel for ideas and energy that aren’t present every moment.
The edges between you and the source, and between the work itself and the act of creating it, blur into one.
Whether you consider the source to be outside of you, in the sky, in the earth, or within your soul, your mind or your heart, the outcome is the same.
The experience of connecting to source through creating is something that cannot be found any other way. It nourishes us like nothing else can, so we try to make it happen as often as possible.
What does “source” mean for you? How do you create to connect with it?
3. Creating to connect with yourself.
Third, we create to connect better with ourselves.
Most of us spend our days in a wired up and hectic state, rarely pausing for breath under a deluge of demands from other people.
It’s very easy to lose the connection with who we truly are – that’s if we’ve ever even made that connection in the first place.
Through our work we can explore and engage with ourselves in a way nothing else allows us to.
We find what we love, what makes us come alive, and what scares us half to death, by showing up and creating, by walking along this third pathway.
You might use other methods alongside creating to better understand and connect with yourself, such as meditation or prayer or journaling, but they alone are not enough for an artist.
We need to make stuff to figure ourselves out, to become at peace with ourselves, and, of course, to become better at connecting with others and the world around us.
Much like the second pathway – connecting with source – we may often find that what we’re creating is ahead of what we’re currently capable of comprehending.
Poems we write, pictures we paint and photographs we take, may mean little to us at the time we create them, other than looking and sounding pretty and having a certain life and truth to them.
Maybe days, maybe months, maybe years later, we understand exactly what that piece of art was about, why we needed to create it, and how it moved us forward. It gives us another tiny piece of our personal puzzle. A piece we couldn’t find any other way.
By showing up and doing the work, you are the work.
How has creating helped you better connect with yourself?
We create for many reasons.
We cannot ignore that creating to connect is one of the most vital, and quite possibly the core reason behind creating anything.
Once we realise its importance, and the three main pathways it allows to walk down, we can give it the time, energy and attention it deserves.
How do you create to connect? Come and join the conversation.
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