Lately I’ve come to a creative impasse. Central to why art exists, in my eyes, is to express one’s thoughts and feelings and emotions more precisely than language alone. It’s a language of its own, of sorts… one that can be understood by everyone and can withstand the test of time. Lately I’ve realized, however, that I don’t know what I’m trying to express as I don’t know who I truly am. I feel like when I’ve been making art lately, it’s been mindless… a chance snap of the camera or click of the mouse to create a scene that flashed in my brain.
I want to create honest art. Art that is honest to myself and my emotions and feelings. In order to do that, however, I need to know who I am first. I’ve been struggling with my creativity lately, oft emulating artists around me and creating art that I think will be received well. I’m having a creative identity crisis and I’ve been mis-labeling it as “creative block.”
Creativity is so central to my identity, my own happiness is tied that that of my ability to express myself through art. Lately I haven’t been able to express myself well and it’s caused a whole jumble of emotions that I can’t seem to rid myself of. Some people cry when they are overwhelmed with emotions. Some laugh. I create art.
I need to find out who I am so I can keep making art and find clarity and happiness. I think I used to know who I was when I was very young. Now, I don’t know what’s of my own doing and what’s that of others’ influence. I feel… dull, even numb at times. There is a scene in my favorite movie, Spirited Away, where Chihiro helps the dragon Haku realize who he is and at that moment he is freed from that form and embraces her, human to human. I’m not so sure my own self-realization will manifest itself in such a sudden manner, however I think it will become clear to me when I am being honest with myself and understand who I am. I think writing this is a step in the right direction.
I feel like I’m just floating along right now, doing what I feel like I have to do, passing off my half-assed creations as “art”. It’s not art - what I have made lately is a lie to myself and to others who I have lead to believe it comes from an honest place. Objectively, sure, my art is “good”. My photos, for example, are properly exposed and are properly composed. But that’s not at all what I mean when I’m talking about “good” art ~ it’s not expressive and is not created with intent, unless that intent is to garner more appreciation on social media.
Real, good, raw art should always be respected, but perhaps not always agreeable. This is different than creating intentionally provocative art… I’m talking about art created honestly by an artist that is expressing something they deeply feel. And that feeling might not be one everyone is comfortable with, but it doesn’t matter because that art is honest.
This is, paradoxically, why I struggle to create for clients. It feels dishonest with the way I’m doing it right now. Without taking the time to get to know each and every person I photography to truly tell their story through photos, I feel as if I am not really showing them as they should be. It feels like an assembly like, right? One senior shot, edited, and delivered. Onto the next. I want to change that and, as I see it, I have two options:
I can stop talking on clients and instead focus on creating art of a purely self-expressive nature. Something I need to do more of, freelancing or not.
Take the time to truly get to know who I’m working with. As I see it, as an artist, when someone hires me it’s because I am helping them fill in the gap to express theirselves as they themselves might not have to tools to do so. I am that bridge where they can share with the world “this is me and this is what I feel”.
Like I said in the previous post, I will be taking a few weeks to go on the road and do a lot of introspection. Outside of the truck and my essentials, I’m bringing with me some books and creative tools so I can truly work on finding myself and self expression on this journey. Does that sounds like some hippy-esque bullshit? Absolutely. But maybe the hippies got it right.