One thing we artistic souls benefit greatly from is developing and strengthening our creative resilience.
The world may draw a portrait of play dates and frivolity, which are a delight, but the creative path is also rife with challenges. Here are just a few that I know you will recognize: self-doubt, comparison, criticism, rejection, perfectionism, procrastination, too many ideas, no ideas, indecision, disappointment, discouragement, discomfort, despair, the imposter complex and a cruel inner critic. Plus there’s always the pain of recognizing the distance between what you envision and what you create and the existential doubt of whether it’s worth it at all. This is just a smattering of internal barriers and doesn’t even begin to address the systemic pressures, expectations and limitations that are placed on creatives based on race, gender identity, sexual orientation or living with a disability.
It’s a lot.
So how do we show up again and again? How do we answer the artistic call in spite of it all and stick with it?
Tend to Your Self
In The Tempest, Prospero says, “We are such things as dreams are made on.” As artists, we create out of our very being and that means we simply must nourish and care for ourselves in order to show up for the work and its demands. When we make sure we tend to our health – physical, mental, emotional – we are also tending to our art. The more resourced we are, the better able we are to contribute to our work and to weather the inevitable challenges and storms .
Have Your Squad
Not everyone will get that art is demanding. You may have experienced some version of this: you mention working on something creative and hear, “Well, must be nice for some” or “I’m glad somebody’s having some fun!” This belief that art-making is simply a leisure activity is common. So common, in fact, that you may have internalized that your creativity is a luxury, something you should do only when all the ‘real work’ is done. This is one reason that it is so helpful to have a community of creatives who get it, who know that your creative work is deep and meaningful and sometimes a struggle, creative colleagues who can offer encouragement and cheer you on when days are tough.
Turn to Your Art
We’re so used to thinking of art as ‘fun’ that we forget something profoundly important: we can bring all that we are, all that we feel, all that we revel in and struggle with to our art. We can paint out our fear. We can tell the story of our tears. We can dance our truth in all its colours. One of the many gifts of art – both in its creation and also in its consumption – is that it houses the complexity of the human experience. Think about the songs that have moved you, the plays that have stayed with you, the art that has jolted your awareness. Art itself can help us process and progress. It can help us find our resilience.
If you’ve seen the symbol for Jamie Ridler Studios, you’ll know it is a form of circle within a circle, reflective of the moon but most importantly it expresses my concept of a studio. A studio is an energetic space you create for yourself and your work. It is a circle that can be formed anywhere and at anytime. The key is that it be energetically sound. You must know that within the confines of your studio, you are free to be your whole creative self, free to tell your stories, to take risks, to be honest and awkward, to be dazzling and delighted, to scream, to roar, to cry, to laugh, to dance. It is a place designed by you for you. It is a place where you learn to be free.
And when you are feeling resilient…
The free and creative studio space we build for ourselves can serve as a model for the life we want to live and even the world we want to be a part of. Let us be devoted not only to finding our own way but also to making the path easier for others. Be an encourager. Be a model of possibility, Take a stand against systemic barriers. Where you have learned, share the learning. Where you have squeaked open a door, hold it open for others. Creative resilience matters for each of us and for all of us. Let us nourish our creative resilience as a community by reminding one another, we are not alone.
Your creativity matters. Your resilience matters. You matter.