Dear Artist: Cultivating Creativity in the Garden of Inspiration


Dear Artist, 

Vincent van Gogh once said, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” One can’t witness a plant grow right before their eyes, but with the right amount of attention, sunlight and water, day by day, the plant will grow. When you made the decision to become an artist, the seed was planted. Each time you create something, good or bad, you water the soil, and gradually, the first sprout will break through the surface and eventually, with care, outstretch to meet the effervescent rays of sunlight. Alternatively, if you plant the seed and only come back to water it once a month, you’ll arrive to find the plant dried up and crumpled along the earth, roasted by the relentless sun, and not given the chance to blossom. It’s no use to create something every once in a while. Create like it’s your last day on Earth. Create dreadful things, create mediocre things, create marvelous things, create groundbreaking things. Regardless of whether it’s released into the world, just create. Create and watch your seed sprout into a stem that stretches far beyond what you ever thought possible. 

Edgar Degas once said, “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” How many times have you gazed down at your art with a furrowed brow and hunched posture, wondering where it all went wrong while plotting its immediate disposal. Sometimes you make art that feels like it’s meant for you, elated by the idea of sharing it with the world. Sometimes you make art that feels foreign and unrelatable. Being your toughest critic can work wonders for your growth, but it can also come between you and the true purpose of art. Sometimes your art isn’t meant for you, it’s meant for someone else. While you may grit your teeth in displeasure at the sight of it, another may shed a tear, find a lost smile, a laugh, or a sense of deep connection. If it doesn’t resonate with you, at times, it’s worth handing it over to someone else. The meaning of art is uncovered through the eyes of each viewer, seeping in through the windows of their soul and directly to their heart.

Marc Chagall once said, “If I create from the heart, nearly everything works: if from the head, almost nothing.” Living in the unabated demand of today, there’s a compulsion to gravitate towards trends and popular opinions. When we let our mind lead, we’re logical, we’re often safe, we gravitate towards comfort and familiarity. Our hearts are where the danger is, the daring risks, the irrational actions, the sudden outbursts and declarations of love and heartbreak. Acting from the heart can be exceptionally messy, but boy is it impactful. We are humans, led by our heart and soul. Our minds taunt us, feed us illusions and at times drag us down. As an artist you have the extraordinary gift of leading with your heart fearlessly and encouraging others to do the same, even if for a minute as they connect with your creation. Create from the heart. The sense will come after.

Junot Diaz once said, “The whole culture is telling you to hurry, while the art tells you to take your time. Always listen to the art.” These days we can scroll on social media for three hours non-stop, but when asked to sit and stare at a piece of art for the same amount of time in the same position, the majority of us simply wouldn’t be able to do it. We’re taught to keep it moving, keep scrolling, keep purchasing, keep consuming. Art calls for us to pause. To breathe. To dig deeper than our surface desires. “I’m just scrolling for inspiration,” is an exhausted phrase. The most profound forms of inspiration come from the slow, quiet, contemplative moments. From time to time, when the world hands you a ticket for the fastest route, choose the slower scenic route. 

Pablo Picasso once said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” Remain curious, open-minded and willing to ask questions. Be unafraid to admit you don’t understand, be a student to your surroundings and befriend failure. 

As humans, we’re all on this planet trying to figure things out. As an artist, your job is to fail as much as you can in order to learn and grow as much as you can. So long as you are creating, your plant is growing. All it needs is a little bit of regular love and attention. 

Written by Ashley Jade Callahan from GLITCH Magazine


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