It is what it is – again

Some time ago, Friday, April 30, 2010, I made a blog post on an another website I was using to share my art-related ramblings. I called the post, “It Is What It Is”.

I find that post just as relevant today as I sit in the Jeep, thinking about what to blog, far from home and worried about my wife Lisa. She’s undergoing a new technology to help the nerves in her eyes recover from stroke damage. Hopefully, this will help the blindness, or at least slow the progression.

Back to the point – life has a way of kicking us around and spitting on us when we are down. I can say this with great enthusiasm – it is what it is.

The following is an edited version of the post from Friday, April 30, 2010…

It is What it Is
Many of you know I am on a quest in life to live the journey without regards to a destination. In other words I am trying to live in the moment and stop worrying about the future, or at least stop letting the future rule my life.

Each day we are bombarded with choices. We judge and express ourselves without clearly asking “why” when we don’t understand something or feel like an outsider. Why do we judge? Why do we set expectations in stone? I for one feel expectations may be the one thing that creates turmoil and anxiety in our lives.

What does any of this have to do with being an artist, photographer, creative? It’s simple really. Stop creating expectations for yourself as a creative and simply create. One’s ability to learn may be dictated by their interest in the subject. Therefore if you love to create then learning more about it is a breeze, right? Stop expecting to fit into the worlds mold of what a creative is supposed to be. Learn because you want to; not because you think you need a degree or that your expectations tell you success comes after getting the paper to prove that you learned.

Another topic for this “it is what it is” post is the judgemental word with expectations written all over it. The word itself kills creativity faster than a documentary on business ethics. There are even those individuals that regard the word I am talking about as the official label given to those who are given the sole privilege of doing their craft while others must remain hobbyists banished from ever eating at the big kid’s table. The word I’m referring to is “professional”. What does it mean? Why do we need this adjective to label a career anyway. I love to hear folks call themselves a professional artist. Have you ever heard a surgeon say, “I am a professional surgeon.” Would you want an amateur surgeon? Think about it for a moment…can you see why expectations drive the proverbial boat? In art, either you are, or you are not. Drop the professional label because it really makes one sound like they are compensating for weak creativity and poor business practices.

It is what it is…there is no reason to judge or to expect. What are you? Are you creating because you want to be something else, or are you creating because it is who you are? When I was a kid I watched a lot of Popeye the sailor cartoons. Popeye would say, “I am what I am” – it stuck with me. Be yourself, be the artist/person you want to be. Keep life simple and slow, enjoy the journey because the destination will get here faster than you think. The eternal dirt bed does not appeal to me these days, I am a simple man, a dad, a husband, a factory worker, a struggling artist, a dreamer, a son, and so much more. Don’t limit yourself by calling yourself a “professional” or an “amateur” anything. Don’t limit yourself shooting for expectations that others have created. It is what it is…I am what I am…be who you are. Stop judging, stop expecting, live life the way you want to and experience happiness filled by content, and harmony.

When I reread the post above I got a giggle out of it. I remember the day I wrote it. In fact, I remember why I wrote it. The point of the rant is simply to express my opinion that adding a word like professional in front of our vocation really doesn’t do much. Getting paid doesn’t make one any more of a professional than someone doing free work to build experience or make a better portfolio. Not getting paid doesn’t make one not professional.

As artists we must live the lifestyle associated with being an artist. It’s a love affair with making art, don’t let anyone defeat you by saying you are not a professional and if you work at your craft part-time and dream of going big time but life is beating you up, just remember:

If you make art, you are an artist. If you have other responsibilities that keep you away from your art, it is what it is. Make art when you can and be the artist you are.

In A Rush

Ever feel like you are always rushing to get artwork done? Wether working for a client on a photography assignment, painting that commission, or simply carving out a few hours each day to make art for yourself, you need to make time or you’ll never make the art in your head.

My studio desk – Simple but it works. © Michael Warth

For me at least, getting in the studio is a major first step. Many of you may have to get out of the house, grab gear from a closet, or something else, but that first step is probably your biggest hurdle. If the anxiety to make art is strong, and you never seem to have the time, try the following:

  1. Give yourself one hour everyday to go to your studio and make art. Even it your studio is the dining room table – just go there and make art.
  2. Explain to the people around you that you do love to spend time with them, but you also need to make art. Some people don’t understand why we can stay inside and make art when its 75 degrees and beautiful outside.
  3. When you get lazy and can’t muster the energy to make art when you also know you’ll enjoy it, go ahead and take that hour to doodle, write, or simply go to the studio. You’ll be surprised how well your body associates the space as a place to be creative. Sometimes, just getting off the couch, away from the TV or other distractions can help.
  4. Take a walk – go outside and just go for a walk.
  5. Create a personal project, set a deadline, and make art. If you want three paintings of apples in a bowl, then start the project. If you are a photographer and need to make some pictures, go to the park and find a theme, take some pictures and tell a story. Just give yourself a project, and a deadline and get to it.

We all get stuck, and life has a way of pulling the creative muse right out of us. You will find an hour a day may increase to more but ultimately, you will be making art regularly. And that is the goal!

Bonus tip:

Photographers – If you can’t carve an hour today because your at work, and have other responsibilities, use the camera in your pocket (you know, the overpriced telephone that you almost never use to make a call anymore). Any camera will do, just use something to make pictures.

Painters/Drawers – Keep a sketchbook handy and you can draw or paint anywhere. Scrap paper and a regular ink pen will do the trick too.

You have no excuse these days not to make art. Many times, I simply come up here to my studio and stare at my computer or bang out a worthless post only to delete it or save it for another day. I’ll sketch, I’ll take pictures with my iPhone, I’ll simply enjoy being in my creative space. I hope this post moves you to make art and keeps you from having the anxiety of never getting to make art. Have a great day!

– Cheers