What does it mean to be creative? I’m not just talking about initial perceptions of painting a canvas or crafting a sculpture. Those art related things. In essence, simply striving to create something new or potentially intangible is a creative process, in whatever industry you’re in. Everyone can go through it in their day to day. Creativity spans across so many facets of life that it can be an overwhelming burden to carry at times. That might sound dramatic but for those with that sensibility you might agree. Some questions that might be familiar to my peers in the arts and culture sector in particular; What do I contribute? Am I bettering myself? How can I impact someone's life? What am I trying to say? The pursuit of engagement, appreciation and inspiration are the mixers to the spirit that is creativity. Battling self efficacy and thus self worth is both catalyst for and product of creativity.
For me, counterfactual thoughts turn into ideas that hopefully spawn originality. No matter how whimsical or vital those thoughts might be. They have a certain value. I like to ask, what if? Then push that in many directions. This website is a good example. But on the flip, I question if living in a counterfactual state makes me (you) more prone to fall into a disorder of sorts? That desire to do, create or live outside of routine can have implications on your mental health. In my experience, when I’m at my best, perhaps most content is when I feel I have succeeded in doing something creative. The antithesis is a struggle with anxiety and what might be called depression.
The manifestation most apparent for me is pulling my hair or in recent years, my beard. This creates bald spots and as a result, a cycle of feeling self conscious because I’m doing it to myself. Even though others mightn't notice, it's still a habit I'm not fond of. There is bizarrely an accompanying sense of relief buried in there. A quick search reveals I’m not the only one. Thank fuck. Trichotillomania. Great word, no? Beyond that physical projection, you could rhyme off the classic roster of feelings; sadness, guilt, irritability, tiredness, low self esteem and anger. I find myself fixating over something endlessly with the hope of solving the “problem”. The “problem” as it were, can be anything from simply completing a drawing, putting words down in a relatable way, designing a logo for a client, running a smooth event.
All of that depends on nurturing the creativity from the beginning. If you’re not in the right mode, you could strip it back to just getting out of bed, picking up a pencil and being present. There’s a whole plethora of stuff but ultimately, it’s a process.
So what happens when all those aforementioned feelings start to flood your mind? How do you respond? The way I attempt to combat these feelings is probably broken down into a few practices. I don’t really know if this will help anyone but I think this keeps my work flow moving consistently so i’ll just outline them briefly. This was never intended to turn into some self help guide so it’s pretty comical that I find myself about to write these things.
Off the jump, it’s worth saying that I find there’s no right way to approach this shit and it’s constantly in flux. At times, I find being over contemplative, anxious and self critical an aid to creativity. It can push you to explore things you wouldn’t dare to usually even if it means getting four hours of sleep and fucking up the next day. So, diversification or simply switching off. If you’re struggling to finish something. Move on. Press pause. Quit out and play zombies instead of failing hard in team deathmatch endlessly. A pair of fresh eyes on something is only a good thing. I struggle when it comes to just stopping, working till 2 or 3am is a regular occurrence but you don’t always come away feeling the best for it. Draw the metaphorical line.
Surround yourself with like minded people. A few good buddies to push you, ask questions, critique or simply bounce ideas off, whether you listen to them or not, is a rich source for creativity. This is applicable to any working environment. No man is an island, after all. I’m fortunate to have my studio mates at LOFT (Brian Kielt & Emic) when it comes to this stuff and I’m sure at one stage or another we’ve contributed to each others practices in a valuable way. Lastly, just keep doing what you’re doing. That isn’t to say you shouldn’t experiment frequently but just be present. Even if you aren’t “feeling it”, you don’t know what effect something minuscule can have on your day and sensibility.
Hopefully, this is of some use to those that read it as I blow away the hairs on my Macbook that I’ve pulled out writing it. It’s been a cathartic process for me so perhaps the act of writing, in itself, is another suggestion to those struggling. On a sidenote, the inclusion of the Deadbeat logo is a graphic representation of this process. There are a few meanings to the name and pairing with the boxing gloves but for me, they symbolise this constant battle. Not sure I put that out there when I started out. Anyways, if anyone wants to comment their thoughts, you can do so below and thanks for reading.