2017 Resolution: Create a Ton of Mediocre Art

My goal for the year that lies ahead is to be a maker. A maker of maybe some nice pictures, but also a maker of very average, possibly even classifiably mediocre pictures, too.

Here’s the thing: I have been through intense phases in which I heaped massive amounts of pressure on myself to create. I have been my own  mean taskmaster and never saw myself as good enough… I never quite hit the mark, never quite achieved what I was expected myself to achieve in an artistic sense. And so I carried a huge sense of frustration and disappointment.

Even now, some days are full to the brim of my own personal frustrations because I know I can do more, do better. However, I have recently been so liberated from this way of thinking.

Two words for you: Big Magic. (The title of a book by Elizabeth Gilbert. But also, it feels like Elizabeth Gilbert has just given a different name to what I already felt, knew and experienced about the creative process and where inspiration comes from…so thanks to her, I now have a name to call that….’Big Magic.’).

This book is Elizabeth Gilbert’s take on creativity, design, and how and when ‘inspiration’ hits (hint: we as creatives are doomed if we sit around and wait for that!).

The title of this blog post is a stubborn, deliberate refusal to not reach for the highest goal of creating amazing art that can somehow support my life. Here’s why: I believe it is more important to make something, every day, even if it’s something small or seemingly insignificant, than it is to aim to make great things only. I mean sure, if my art turns out 'good' (also, what even is that? Everyone has different tastes.) I will be pleased, but if not, that is 100% great. I was part of the artistic process. I was in the game. I made. I loved.

“Through the mere act of creating something-anything-you might inadvertently produce work that is magnificent, eternal, or important. You might not, on the other hand. But if your calling is to make things, then you still have to make things in order to live out your highest creative potential-and also in order to remain sane.”
— Elizabeth Gilbert

The process of creating is what liberates us from the mundane parts of life, what gives us a sense of wonder, and what fulfils the desire we have to be makers. The final outcome of that process? Eh, an afterthought.

Too many people I know exclude themselves from the joyful process of making because in their own opinion, they aren’t talented enough, or can ‘only draw stick people’ (I get sad when people say that. Even if it were the case, there is a multitude of other ways to express your creativity. Baking! Sewing! Dancing! Writing! Stop telling yourself you aren’t one of the creative ones…in our own ways, we all are creative).

So as we go forth into the year that is to come, I for one am only placing upon myself the expectation to engage in the creative process. I would be happy within myself if I make a year’s supply of fairly un-sellable pieces, so that I can really get back to the love of the art itself and why I do what I do. If it’s about anything other than the process, I don’t think I can call myself an artist.

Here’s to a ton of mediocre art that has been created from a place of liberation and joy.

This ted talk doesn't directly relate to this blog post but is another perspective of creativity  by Elizabeth Gilbert which is also explored in Big Magic. She muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses -- and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person "being" a genius, all of us "have" a genius.