Submitted Date 10/03/2019

Between work, school, and homework, finding time to be creative can sometimes be harder than finding time for social activities. And because of being so tired from working all day, no one wants to come home and work some more on an art project. That is why turning creativity from work into something fun is exceedingly important.

This is coming from someone who is a creative-type but also someone who is completely drenched in academia, more specifically advertising and public relations. Being surrounded by marketing tactics and successful people online, it is difficult not to try to think of what is "trending" and/or what type of artwork is getting the most attention these days.

But then this got me thinking, how often are artists strictly creating just for creativity's sake? How many successful artists create only what is trending? And are they still satisfied with the creative process in doing so? And this counts for all forms of art and content creation: painting, Youtube videos, blogs, and nearly every point of content online.

This, of course, is when a TedTalk featuring Joesph Gordon-Levitt caught my eye – How Craving Attention Makes You Less Creative – and it answered my question. The legend himself, JGL, found that within his acting industry, focusing too much on what other people will think is completely distracting to the creative process, or getting into one's creative zen zone.

Now, I do believe there should be a balance between creating for creativity's sake and creating for an audience that wants something specific, something that is trending. Or, at least for those trying to be successful content creators. Outside of this, caring about what's trending or if other people will like whatever it is that you are creating, artists really should just make whatever they want to make. Without any care for the attention, they may receive.

When someone is trying to produce something for trending's sake, more often than not, there is less care and concentration. And with this, art becomes any ol' job that is tiresome and disgruntling. With as many creative vocations that are available today, it is difficult to write a blanket statement to aid every creative individual but there is one that does come to mind: The closer to the heart something comes from, the more gratifying and satisfying it would be to create.

One now has to ask themselves, what is my motive? Is it to become/remain famous, relevant, and to gain attention? or is it to relieve the creative-ache that comes from within, to express ideas and feelings, to make it more tangible in order to reflect upon? Depending on where an artist is on their level of success, one's motive should lean more towards the latter.

Seeking attention is nearly a human instinct due to our being a social species. And everyone has seen the multitude of movies written about letting go of other people's approval. But completing the actual action of it is without a doubt a difficult thing to do. It would basically be like asking yourself to turn into a hard tough-guy in a matter of days, which is a different person entirely for most. But this has more to do with simply creating for creativity's sake, so if you declare that no one else will see it then an immense weight could be lifted to create more freely.

It can also be easy to forget about motivation once one is in the creative zen zone — the artistic processes can be that of an intoxicating and adrenaline rushing time if one is able to focus and concentrate on what they are doing. And then we can find explosive, emotive, unique expressions of one's mind. One example that comes to mind is the originator of philosophy, the school of thought, Socrates, whose sole inspiration was really the stupidity he found himself surrounded by. It's no wonder why this got him killed but there was no trending philosophy before him. So while "they" say that original ideas don't exist, because the world is so old, original thoughts still exist within our minds and we have to dig within it to reach them.

Getting too much into what is trending or social media analytics, even things as simple as how many likes are on each post, takes something that is a transformation of our inner psyche into something that is just another file for a bureaucratic cabinet. And if one takes this too far, enjoying art becomes more of a consumer of information, "what should I make next?" Rather than taking pleasure in the piece that is given, a piece of another person's soul (hopefully). And the worst of cases is when these types become more famous than the more genuine and unique type.

One example that came to light a couple of years ago (that I swear I saw in a documentary years before) is the large label: Supreme. The famously bold brand and label Supreme is something that is highly sought after, but is it for the right reasons? It has been found that Supreme more than obviously stole the style of an artist named Barbara Kruger; who, according to the New Yorker, was apparently quite the socially-quirky artist and also worked in fashion advertisements. Realistically, this can happen when taking too much inspiration from any outside force. And this can could cause a flood of different effects: like someone not getting (billions of dollars worth of) credit, or artistically worse … never learning one's own style, forgetting to use it, or losing it altogether.

This is not to say that inspiration is wrong, but of course, there is a time and place for everything. And stealing for profit is never the right time or place. I have actually written an entire piece called Creating For Your Target Audience, we just have to remember to also create outside of that process. Not for our audience but simply for ourselves.

Creation comes from an organic point of our mind and creating for creativity's sake, without care for attention, is the truest expression of our being. This is why small indie movies are always amazing because the director/writer isn't paying attention to the "box office" or what their producers are saying.



Joseph Gordon Levitt on Attention

New Yorker on Barbara Fruger

My piece on Creating for Target Audiences



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  • Rick Doble 2 years, 11 months ago

    “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do." Steve Jobs. If you love what you do, it will energize you. You are your most important audience. And your best critic. Believe in yourself and do the work. The rest is just noise.