We Can and Should All Become Artists, Here Is Why

You and I, we were all born artists. When we were little we made art from almost everything we could get our hands on. We doodled with crayons. We danced to every tune we heard. I used to spend hours putting beads together to make bracelets.  I loved those colorful beads so much that once I put one of them in my nostril and my mother needed to take me to the hospital. Feel free to laugh at my 5-year-old silliness, but when things like this happened, we didn’t know of shame, did we? Life was just a treasure chest full of discoveries. 14331970303_e36b296b29_z

One day, someone told us that our painting or poem was bad, that we danced like Edward Scissor-hand in a Christmas party. And the worst thing they did to most of us is that: they taught us to say that to ourselves. Then we started make art not for the sheer joy of expressing our individuality, but for approval – approval of others and approval of ourselves. Many of us stopped making art all together.

I think that the act of creating is essential to a meaningful life. There is nothing more vulnerable than that. Creating is like love. It doesn’t make the world goes round but it gives joy and meaning to our lives.

I disagree with how the definition of “artists” is often confined to someone who has a vocation in the art industries. To me, artists are anyone who does the simple act of creating something to express what is true to his or herself; anything - a drawing, a song, a story, an idea; anywhere –in solitude beside the fireplace, in the spotlight on a Broadway stage, or in a meeting room on top of a corporate building.

I haven’t mentioned “creativity” at all because this word is intimidating for most of us. Ever since 1968, when Roger W. Sperry's brilliant research on human brain-hemisphere was published, which revealed that the human brain uses two different modes of thinking, one verbal, analytic, and sequential – “right brain”, and one visual, perceptual, and simultaneous-“left brain”, we have started to label ourselves and each other as “right-brained” or “left-brained”, and often used it as an excuse to not bother creating, which - I'd like to believe - is not Sperry’s original intention.

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We might be born with a left-brained strength but we can learn to access our right-brained mode, where higher form of consciousness lies – intuition for instance. This theory has been pioneered by artists and art teachers, like Betty Edwards –author of the classic “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” and David Kelly, author of “Creative Confidence”.

Thomas Riddle said “To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong”. I agree. I even think that to live a creative life we must lose our fear of being.

I don’t think there is anything that makes me more alive than the act of writing, when I express myself, as clearly, succinctly as possible, in a way which I deem beautiful and elegant. I don’t think there is anything makes me more vulnerable than showing my story to you and the world. And I don’t think there is anything that makes me more connected to you, as much as it make you connected to me than us looking at each other’s soul in our arts.  So the moment we stopped expressing ourselves, truly, authentically, we ceased to be.

A very smart person said something that was utterly true: “Don’t tell me you don’t have ideas. You have tons of ideas! You just think that they are bad!

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This reminds me of the time I worked in AIESEC’s Global Team. Being surrounded by brilliant peoples, many times I suppressed my own ideas, swallowing it down like a bitter pill because it was different. “The group is so smart. The group must be right” I said to myself. But I ended up regretting every single time. This happens to all of us until we learn to express ourselves, with conviction and with good heart.

When I first started writing a month ago, I was lucky to come across a quote from Martha Graham, whose influence on modern dance has been compared with the influence Picasso had on the modern visual arts,  in Dani Shapiro's book "Still Writing". I printed it out and pin it next to my writing desk. It has given me strength ever since. And I want to pass it onto you.

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(Martha Graham, photo by Barbara Morgan, 1940)

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action. And because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost. The world will not hear it.

It is not your business to determine how good it is; nor how valuable it is; nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. 

You do not even need to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.

No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keep us marching and makes us more alive than the others.”

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What about you?

Have you recently created something to express what is true to yourself?

Is there any creative hobby or endeavor that you have long given up?

Are you keeping the channel open?