Sunday, August 29, 2010
We spend a lot of time as creatives trying to improve our craft, seeking to sell our product, looking to live by our art. But do we know what actually makes it art?
There are so many different (many times seemingly opposing) views of what makes good art. Two people can watch the exact same film, read the same novel, stare at the same painting and walk away with two completely different opinions of what they've just experienced.
And that's how it's supposed to be, right?
Because, for me, art is the ultimate in individual expression. I think that's what art ultimately is. It's an extension of who we really are on the inside.
That extension can be touching, shocking, revolting, empowering or even titillating to us, but when it's honest and connected, it will move us in one way or another. That's what good art does. It's one person reaching out and touching another.
And when we experience it, we can't help but be changed by it.
So how do we create art? I think part of the process is simply doing it. Over and over again.
When we start, our work is usually pretty derivative. We're mimicking what we've seen others do. We liked it and want to repeat it.
Eventually that doesn't satisfy, so we start digging deeper. We start delving into the "how" of our craft. What do I have to do to make a story compelling? What can I do to make a character more believable? How can I craft a film to engage an audience?
We immerse ourselves in the nuts and bolts of what we're doing. We spend time with it, we make mistakes with it, we occasionally obsess about it. And it gets into our bones.
And then, at some point, we realize we're stuck in the minutiae. We're bogged down by craft. We've lost our joy.
Really, we've lost ourselves.
And so, hopefully, we rediscover who we are. We develop our "voice" (which we've actually been developing all along). We let go of the tediousness of the craft and just trust that it'll be there for us. Sure, we check in during moments of trouble, but we relax and allow ourselves to come through.
And brilliance starts to happen.
Now, I can't say that this is everyone's process. I can only say that it's been mine so far. I imagine there are lots more stages along the way, and I think that's exciting.
Because that's another thing about art--it's ever-evolving, just as I hope to be.