So we're still in lockdown, I suppose it was naive to think things would suddenly be different in 2021, but a small part of me thought it would be, January has been a weird one for sure.
After a few weeks of adjusting to more of the same, I've been looking back at the journey my art life and creativity have taken in terms of being so much more online and I thought I'd share a bit about it. Historically I have found a great deal of my inspiration and creative connection in meeting, sharing and making art with others, either at workshops or in our studios or at galleries and exhibitions. For a considerable amount of time I haven't been able to do these things and I have noticed the impact this has had on my creative life.
However, through having to adapt my own workshops I have had to learn to navigate this new online creative world and along the way I have come to the following conclusions. Below are 5 ways I have been able to remain sane whilst finding a more developed online art presence and new ways of connecting.
1. Remember it's not a competition. The online lockdown life social media shows us everyday is not the full picture. It's great to see what other people are creating, but remember not to respond to that small inner voice that often tempts us to try and be better than what we see or give up because we feel we couldn't possibly be as good as everyone else. When you're looking at the finished piece you're not always seeing the process that led there. Ironically, I really love seeing people's process I think there is immense value in it, but either way, all art deserves a space in the creative ether. Celebrate what is there already and add to it.
2. Online art dates. This is HUGE one for me. My creative practice is extremely social, so not being able to do workshops and make art with others in the room has been fairly devastating. To combat this, some of my arty pals and I have been having art making dates online, we either FaceTime or zoom and just make art together and chat. It's not got the organised fun zoom quiz vibes, it's just a few people hanging out and getting arty until we feel like stopping. These dates have been heaven, I highly recommend.
3. Keep connected to your own magic. I actually can't take credit for this one. My brother gave me some really great advice about this. He said that he sometimes just spends some time looking at creative projects he's already made. I think this is so important when we are spending increased amounts of time online looking at everyone else's work, it can put a barrier between us and our own magic. In addition to this my brother explained that creative block and fatigue can get in the way of him making new work but if he spends time engaged with previous projects he can feel reenergised or at least still connected to his passion. Somedays it can be a simple observing, but other days it can lead him to engagement and making. That simple practice of looking and listening to what he has already made keeps the relationship alive and balances out the amount of time spent looking elsewhere. Very wise words, thanks bro!
4. Experimenting or staying in your lane is your choice. These days I'm often feeling pressured to try all these new things I'm hearing about and seeing online. It's conflicting, I hear the phrases, "should I be doing that?", "should I be trying new things?" whirling around my head all the time but I have this deep desire to make more and more collage. This can feel really conflicting. I finally set myself free from it all when I decided that what I choose to make is exactly that, my choice, so I'm setting you free too - make what you want regardless of what the latest trend is online. If you wanna try sculpture for the first time in your life crack on, if you want to keep making the origami you always do that's brilliant. You do you boo.
5. Lean into that nourishment. Sometimes I end up making things that aren't particularly "pretty" or "instagrammable", sometimes it just a mess of mark making but the process of making it is hella cathartic. What I'm trying to say is that all elements of your creative practice have value and are important. So when you experience that feeling of making something and it is legit feeding your soul, lean into it, try not to worry about the outcome or what the piece is for, it's for you. Let that catharsis nourish your soul.
We've got a journey ahead, one which remains unknown. Being online with our creativity isn't going anywhere so try to find a sane way to exist within it.
Take care and keep collaging!