On Being Creative


On being Creative…

What do you think of when you hear the word “Creative” or
“Artist? Does your crafty next-door neighbor come to mind? Or maybe you’re
thinking of a favorite painter or sculptor. Maybe you’re thinking of yourself.
Maybe you think definitely NOT yourself.. I ask this question because the word
“creative” seems to have an aura and mystery about it, like magic, some people
have it, some people do not. This word is also synonymous with other “aura”
words “Free-Spirit” (which is also often used by folks when they are trying to
describe someone who is either irresponsible or unreliable but that they like
because they use words like “aura”…). For the whole of my life as a
Creative/Artist/Free Spirit, I felt a disconnect because, in my mind, there was
always someone more “Creative”, more “Artist”, more “Free Spirit”.

Throughout the years this doubtful mindset actually stopped
me from reaching my potentials in these realms, and then even when I started
breaking through my doubts and insecurities, my “Imposter Syndrome”, the little
voices (those Gremlins I’ve spoken about before) are still in the corners,
waiting to jump out and yell “BOO”.

I was absolutely plagued by the Gremlins about 4 years ago
when I decided to go back to school and get my Master of Fine Art degree. Let
me take a moment and share something about my personality. You can call it
delusion or a protective mechanism, but even in my deepest, darkest moments of
doubt, when the Gremlins are running the asylum, there’s this other voice
inside of me, as small as a whisper, that urges me to move, to grow, to take a
leap of faith and actually focus on how I could succeed instead of how I could
fail. I believe it is this voice that has saved me from tanking my creative
journey and my belief in my potential.

So there I was sitting in one of my mentors offices
discussing enrolling in graduate school, the entire time thinking, “OMG, you
aren’t even an artist” but somehow knowing I MUST do this. Fast forward about 3
years, 3 fairly rough and revealing years in which I worked harder than I
thought I could, I failed a lot, I cried, I drank lots of wine, I swore off
wine, I drank more wine, I realized the problem was them, I realized NOPE
actually the problem is me, I realized I could change, I figured out I truly
was a fraud, I figured out I am an Artist… do you see when the Gremlins were in
control and when the small whisper was guiding me? Towards the end of the 3
years I realized the #1 thing I needed in order to be a “Creative/Artist/Free
Spirit” was: DISCIPLINE.

So here are some myths surrounding being an Artist:

They are inherently genius…

They wait until their muse strikes and then create only

They brood and are seriously wiser than common folk…

They are unreliable and that lends to their creativity…

(In modern times) They either need to “sell out” or starve…

Part of the reason I struggled with being an Artist is
because I just didn’t want to fit into those categories. When I graduated I had
developed a thesis (you
can read it here)
and within that, as well as during the writing and
creating process (they often go hand in hand for me), I realized my personal
creative potential was best reached if I did they following:

Developed a schedule (and stuck to it)…

Found daily focus and positivity in my mindset, no matter if
I was creating or cleaning my studio…

Ate meals consisting of whole foods…

Drank plenty of water…

Practiced yoga or went running on the trails…

Tried new things and let go of feelings of judgements from either
myself or others…

Slept 8+ hours per night (yeah, pulling all-nighters and
effectively destroying the creative centers of my brain were no longer a badge
of honor, check out this
talk by sleep expert Professor Matthew Walker)…

Showed up and didn’t wait for my “muse” (Stephen Pressfield
has a WONDERFUL insight about muses in his book “The War of Art”, seriously
read it! Click here to see it on Amazon)…

And the biggest breakthrough:

               I had to
use 80% of my time creating an infrastructure for the 20% of the time in which
I could actually let my creative, free spirit soar….

Being creative, at least for me, does not work if I don’t
have a foundation. I may be able to fake it through a couple of nights of
shortened sleep, or missing a good meal here and there (I’m not perfect and I’m
really trying to stop striving for that), but in the long run it all falls
apart if I don’t have my ducks in a row.

So back to the initial question… What does it mean to you
when you hear “Creative/Artist/Free Spirit”? Do you still see the mystery? Or
do you see that it is a practice of discipline, focus, and intention. And my
biggest question is, do you see how you could also tap into your creative
potential and embody your Artist self by becoming disciplined, focused, and
intentional. I also want to point out that being an Artist is all about
“problem solving”, developing creative solutions (I’ll talk more about this in
a later post). The artist uses a material or medium like paint, wood, metal,
paper (at 1905 Studio we primarily use clay to create solutions) but perhaps
you use numbers, or community relations, or communication. Do you see how you
could possibly tap into your creative potential in whatever field you’re in and
that the words “Creative/Artist/Free Spirit” can actually be positive words for
you to adopt in order to find greater success? I truly hope so…

A further thought on the word “Free Spirit”: I truly believe
that “Free Spirits” actually thrive on discipline, and could potentially
self-destruct without this discipline (speaking from experience here). Once
discipline, focus, and intention are in place, the negatives of the free spirit
idea are removed and what is left is someone who isn’t afraid to go against the
grain, to explore uncharted solutions, and to be a much needed voice in our
(sometimes) lemming society.

1905 Studio would never have been a possibility without my
rewriting my thoughts surrounding what it means to me to be a
“Creative/Artist/Free Spirit”. It also would never have been a thing if my
partner (in business and life) hadn’t helped me develop the systems I needed
along the way. He is the Yin to my Yang.

Let us know how we can help you on your journey as a
“Creative/Artist/Free Spirit”. We’d love to share more with you and to support
your journey as you are supporting ours.

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Cheers Y’all,

Joanna Gifford

1905 Studio Co-Founder

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