3 Habits of Successful (or Happy) Creatives

(image credit:  http://www.flickr.com/people/cobalt/)

3 Habits of Successful (or Happy) Creatives

by Jessica Molcan

Social media has an influx of articles on the “7 Habits of Healthy Couples” and “25 Things Happy People Do” juxtaposed against couples holding hands and young women doing yoga off the sides of cliffs. In the grand tradition of this viral article style, I have compiled a list for creatives. Take this with a grain of salt, or perhaps print out the semi-inspirational photograph from the top of the article and make it your new wall poster above your studio.

1. Good artists borrow, great artists steal

I’m not talking about appropriation as much as I’m talking about feeding your inner artist. Many artists are petrified about looking at other work in their field because they may become disheartened because someone else has already come up with the idea they were mulling over. Perhaps that’s the wrong way to look at it. Instead, take what you like about a work and make it work for you. This can be beneficial in helping find what works and what doesn’t, what can help you improve as a creative, and what may hinder you. Don’t copy a brushstroke for brushstroke or rip-off a design down to the Pantone colour swatches. It’s all about balance. Expand your creative horizons and feed your soul.

2. Get back into the studio

This isn’t a “work more” advice article. You don’t need to work harder or create more, but you do need to get better at what you do. Fine tune and hone your skillset. Make better work, not more work. Keep in mind that while you try to better your vector skills in Illustrator, you may produce a lot of crap work. That’s okay, embrace the failures. Failure is essential for growth. Know that when you’re in the studio honing your craft, you’re listening to the little voice inside you that says that this is what you’re meant to do. It also reminds you of the importance it holds to your life. Take some time outside of class schedules and homework, no matter how little, and work on your own art practice - or work on something you love doing. Sometimes it’s so easy to get lost in all the assignments, we forget about what we actually love to paint, draw, photograph, or design.

3. Learn to let go

All artwork involves emotion, but an emotional investment in your work is not the same as being emotionally attached to your work. Being able to objectively look at your work and step back requires being back to distance yourself from your work. Invest in yourself, but don’t be afraid to let the work go when you’re finished. You’ve created something and it is a piece of you, but letting go allows you to move forward and create bigger or better things. It’s important to pour yourself into your work, but you must pull yourself back out. Whether this is to handle university critiques, or to sell your work to a stranger, you can’t allow an emotional connection to your own work cloud your judgement as to whether or not it’s a good piece or work. A good practice to pick up is to share your work within social media. Finished or unfinished, putting your work out there and then moving on helps distance the emotional attachment.

Feel free to add your own tips below.