How to find your “artistic vein”

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"I just want to make pretty things and get enough sleep."

Don’t we all? Deep inside, isn't this our universal ache? To build/write/do/be something beautiful. 

Chuck Palahniuk concurs, and even insists that it is our calling:

“The first step—especially for young people with energy and drive and talent, but not money—the first step to controlling your world is to control your culture. To model and demonstrate the kind of world you demand to live in. To write the books. Make the music. Shoot the films. Paint the art.”

I’m happy to let you know, Mr. Palahniuk, that this is already being courageously carried out by the youth of today.  Thanks to the Internet, this vast awakened thing, we now have a platform on which we can express ourselves more openly and become not just onlookers but also storytellers, rendering us contributors to the enrichment of our cultures. In fact, so many young lives are starting to flourish socially, emotionally, spiritually, and even financially altogether. Though as fortunate as we are to have been graced with such phenomenal advancement, this has also heightened the need for a more effective transfusion, that is, a more effective means to convey our art.

But first, I think it's necessary to first clear away any lingering mist that may have veiled us from seeing our creative capacities.

Yes, art is about telling a story or painting a picture but it doesn't end within the limits of a pen or a paintbrush. I can’t stress enough how badly I want to extinguish the notion that what makes artists real artists is their ability to dabble some green and brown onto a paper and turn it into a convincing tree. Art is not just a technique, a hobby, or a thing. It's a way of life - a method of doing and being. A unique and courageous imparting of a personal truth or vision. 

“Art isn't only a painting. Art is anything that's creative, passionate, and personal… Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that creates change in another.” - Seth Godin

And so if art can be for anyone, how does exactly one find his artistic vein? Where can one exercise his/her creativity so that he too may be able to make something that inspires some kind of difference.

Today I share with you 5 tips, embodied in 5 questions, to help you contemplate on a medium for expressing your creativity.


1. What do you want to say?

To me, what often sets a notable artist apart is the clarity of their message. Even if the artworks they create are individually unique, there is something obvious that weaves their body of work together — a theme.

What is it that you want to express or make known to others? Do you want to speak of freedom? Of unity? Of pop culture? Of God? Maybe you want to explore love, or more specifically, unrequited love. Once you know what it is you want to say, it should be less difficult to figure out HOW you will say it.

I liken it to preparing a DIY sandwich: if you carefully choose your contents, selecting the type of bread to go best with your chosen ingredients usually comes easy. But just like any DIY sandwhich, it never hurts to experiment with different ways to express yourself in a manner that appeals to you those you will consume it.

Maybe there is no better example to me than the Mademoiselle herself, Chanel whose works have explicitly expressed a story: one that champions Elegant Modernity — from the little black dress, to the tweed jackets, to the mixture of pearls and diamonds, to the lion emblems, to the No. 5. Hers is a body of work that sends out a clear message: to be voguely free.

2. What is your "territory"?

Where are you already skilled? How can you use this skill to further express yourself more creatively?

So you’ve been a hotelier for years now? Why not start a blog on how this experience is teaching you a lot about travelers and the nuances of traveling? So you’ve been drawing realistic portraits of people for as long as you’ve owned a pen? Why not ease your way into illustrating a full story inspired by them? So poetry is your jam but the paper doesn’t cut it for you anymore? Why not make the streets your canvas and start doing poetry for the public? Whatever skills you have, don’t be confined by them. Expand your area of mastery.

Take it from conceptual artist Jenny Holzer. Though writing is her main medium, she has created large format public displays of her 'truisms'. I personally love her cinema marquees and projections on buildings. 

3. Will this medium deepen my message? Can it invoke awe?

Your medium should be able to support and not subtract the meaning of your message. Real connection only happens if you can effectively bring others to consider your perspective. You can be the bearer of the most brilliant solutions for Peace, for example, but if you can't express that without utlimately invoking awe in those who receive it, your message will fail to influence. As creators, we must seek not only to transmit but to transform.

Let Jason Silva exemplify what it means to make an impact through your medium as he delivers this riveting speech on creative non-conformity.

4. How would you tell your story if you weren't afraid?

If you were told there you could only have one way of doing things, how would you do it?  If criticism were never an issue... If you have nothing to lose... If it didn't matter whichever method you use, how will you do it?

 The heart has mysteries the mind has yet answers for. Until we can decode its reasons for saying what it says, anything it asks you to do is probably right. What is yours saying, then? What is the heart urging you to fulfill? Listen to this inner knowing. Much of our regret comes from not following our intuition for the sake of safety. If you desire to live out a creative life, your heart will be your wisest guide. At the end of the day, you have the last say over the way you present your art. Only you can tell how you can best express yourself.

This is to say that, above all, have courage in telling your story no matter how you wish to tell it. Courage breeds authenticity. Authenticity creates connection. Connection humanizes. And that is the point of art.

"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident." – Arthur Schopenhauer

The same is true for Art. Wink wink.

HAVE COURAGE.