Hello again Creative Friends
Last time we got very brainy with our old Greek friend, Heraclitus. A week has passed now, so let’s come back to earth a little and talk about you.
Sometimes, when you call a good friend, you just say ‘Hi, it’s me!’. You don’t even need to say your name, because you are recognised by your voice, your unique voice. (Or by Caller ID, but let’s just pretend we’re back in the 1980s for today’s purpose. Ah the ’80s.)
When you speak you have a recognisable and unique voice. When you create you also have a unique voice. For most of us, that creative voice doesn’t come immediately, you have to work at it. For some of us, the light bulb moment takes longer than for others. For some of us, it can feel like all we produce is derivative or sub-standard. But we know we are our own harshest critics, so let’s examine that bit objectively.
Who decides what is sub-standard? Life isn’t school, where you can be given a ‘D’ because your teacher says your work isn’t good enough. Lord knows, nobody has greater admiration for teachers than I have, but they have a job to do, which is all too often focused on getting the kids exam-ready. That’s the System for you. Take away those strictures, now that you have passed your exams, and you can also subvert the System. Do you think that Marcel Duchamp would have passed his A-level art with a signed urinal? I mean, where’s the skill in that? And yes, that picture above, it’s art, not just random sanitary ware.
As for derivative, well, everybody copies. Only by taking inspiration from others, can we find our own voice. The trick is to keep at it and ask the Killer Question.
What’s the Killer Question?
Yes, it’s that simple.
- Get a copy of your favourite painting or poem. ( This exercise also works well with jokes. Seriously. I am always serious about jokes.)
- Now get your pencil(s) out and copy it, but not completely. Change a colour, an object, a phrase, a word, all the time aiming for it to still make sense to you.
- Keep asking yourself The Killer Question – ‘What If?’
- What if I replaced green with blue? What if I used fewer words? Or more words?
- Keep another blank sheet of paper to hand to note down your own, independent ideas as they come, so you can work on them later.
Derivative? No way! Just inspired.
Never stop asking ‘What If?’.
Out of the old, springs the new. It’s all about curiosity.
The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.- Dorothy Parker
And out of that curiosity springs your own take on the world. Your Unique Creative Voice.
If your curiosity is aroused about Marcel Duchamp, you can read more about him here.
And watch out for my newest podcast, which will be available here very soon.
Until next time, Happy Creating.