When we speak of motivation, especially in the realm of creativity, it isn't a linear journey. It’s a series of peaks and valleys, ebbs and flows, and like every creative soul, I’ve ridden those waves too. Here's a look into my journey, intertwined with the broader lessons that any artist can benefit from.
The Struggle with Commissioned Work
One of my earliest realisations was the stifling effect that commissioned work had on my creativity. Whether it was in wedding and event styling or art, the expectations that came with creating for someone else's vision often dimmed my spark. So, how did I work around this?
Creating for Myself: Before anything else, I began creating pieces that I loved, devoid of any expectation of selling them. These were pieces that were extensions of my heart, and if they resonated with someone else, then I could sell them if I wanted to.
Gaining Autonomy: When paid for a creative endeavour, instead of starting from scratch, I presented clients with glimpses of my previous work, or sometimes, a mood board that encapsulated my vision. This became the foundation upon which I built. If clients didn’t align with this, I learned to graciously let them go. In essence, it's about autonomy. As creatives, our gift is visualising the outcome, building it in our minds. It's our responsibility to show this vision to our clients, gaining their trust in the process.
The Need to Make a Difference
Every creative task I take up, I strive to ensure it resonates purpose. I constantly seek ways to enhance my skills. The Pre Raphaelites, with their ethereal and intricate artwork, have always been my inspiration. In my quest to paint like them, I’ve trained with amazing artists, investing time in mastering the art. The drive? To replicate the vivid images in my head onto the canvas and to be able to achieve photorealism in painting by capturing a moment in time.
Creating art, for me, feels purposeful. It's about discovery, creation, and sharing. But, acknowledging this wasn't easy. Coming from a background where a 'standard job' was the norm, my determination was the boat against the current. But it was this same determination that led me to build Tasmania's largest event and wedding styling company – a testament to the power of trusting one’s creativity.
The Surprising Truth about Motivation
In Daniel Pink’s words from his book "Drive", true motivation arises from autonomy, mastery, and purpose. As creatives, when we find projects that align with these three elements, our work doesn't just shine; it resonates.
Daniel Pink’s book delves deeply into what truly motivates us, moving beyond the traditional carrot-and-stick approach. Here are six tips that encapsulate his thinking -
Autonomy Over Task, Time, Team, and Technique: Pink emphasises the importance of autonomy in our work. It's not just about what task we do, but also how we do it, when we do it, and with whom we do it. By giving creatives control over these aspects, you tap into their intrinsic motivation.
Mastery is a Mindset: Pink points out that believing you can get better at something is the foundation for mastery. For artists and creatives, this is the continuous journey of refining their craft, always believing there's room for growth.
Purpose Provides Context: When people understand the purpose behind what they're doing, they're more motivated to do it. For creatives, knowing that their art has a purpose – whether it's to inspire, to challenge, or simply to beautify – can be a powerful motivator.
Feedback is Essential: Pink discusses the idea that timely feedback helps maintain the flow of intrinsic motivation. For an artist, feedback isn't just about praise or criticism; it's about understanding the impact of their work and its resonance with the audience.
Avoid Over-Reliance on Extrinsic Rewards: While rewards like money or recognition can provide a temporary boost, they can actually diminish intrinsic motivation over time if they become the primary reason for pursuing the task. The joy of creation should remain at the forefront.
The Goldilocks Task: Pink mentions the importance of finding tasks that are neither overly difficult nor too easy – tasks that are just right. These tasks, which provide just the right amount of challenge, can stimulate creativity and keep an artist engaged.
Embracing Your True Path
I've since moved on from event styling, and today, my creativity flows through Bramblier and Ecrylimer, our unique casting compounds. The drive? Trust in my own creativity. It’s been my north star, guiding me even when the path wasn't clear. And that's my message to every creative out there: Trust your creativity, it knows the way. Your motivation stems from within; it's the flame that keeps your creative spirit alive, no matter the external challenges.
Happy Crafting! Gabbi xx
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