You might say Jake and I are two very "artistic" people. I savor language; my heart is found in soft pages of books and I delight in lines of poetry, pottery, and music. Jake’s pleasures are found in beautiful lettering, carving, painting, drawing and marrying each of these with a rich, velvety latte whenever the opportunity arises. Sure, we may be artistic, but the truth of the matter?
We desire to create.
Build. Discover. Imagine. Establish.
Don’t we all? In some capacity or another, each of us desires to create. Such a familiar yearning. Jake and I fan the glowing embers of our creative ambition; attempt to steward each precious spark of inspiration to then feed our blaze. In our intentionality, we have come up with our list of creativity cultivation essentials, which helps us do just that. This list is by no means complete but will be subject to change as we do. No matter what it is you put your hands to, perhaps our list will stir you on; to help you understand what it is you want to create; what it is you can create.
Essential No. 1: Create an Atmosphere of Inspiration.
“It is important to establish an environment which invites inspiration and creativity- hosting them as honored guests.” -J.W.
Jake and I have built an atmosphere that invites inspiration and one that also contains the ingredients for inspiration and stirs it right in our midst. We surround ourselves with relics of inspiration- reminders of our own creativity as well as other people, places, and things we aspire. Jake’s art adorns our walls, making a gallery of our home. Stacks of classic literature and my latest reads are strewn about, each and every one dog-eared and riddled with my notes. In this place, we have created a world all our own; the air thick with sweet musings; a quiet temple of long, penetrating thought and careful execution; a place where patience is cultivated; where discovery is encouraged and our skill, intellect, and endurance are challenged.
We have built a space where inspiration is fluidly transferred into creative tangibles. Our tools to create stand ready as faithful servants- pens, paint, brushes, paper, easels- put in places only we could navigate as we have created organization from our chaos. Our priorities lie more with dedication to completing a task than keeping a clean studio space; to following a spark, stoking it to a flame until it's alive, bursting with fiery licks of passion. We are determined, focused, with the end-result the only thing in mind. We have surrendered one another and ourselves from the obligation of organization in the midst of a creative endeavor. You might call it messy, we call it “creative aftermath.”
Essential No. 2: Consume and Be Consumed.
Immersion: the freedom to delve. How many times do we allow ourselves to get lost? To explore, to imagine? To be captivated? To behold and to be held? To forget time? A presence of mind is encouraged between us- an intentional, intense focus on our work. We allow one another to slip away into our imaginations and our own realm of creating. We give ourselves up to the task at hand and give way to torrents of inspiration that wash over us. We let ourselves be consumed. We are teaching one another about our creative processes, giving time, grace, and space, releasing the other to be consumed by whatever project, knowing we will reconvene when the creative storms rests.
Often times, the freedom to delve can be found in a flexible routine. This works for us in this season of life. It may not always, but for now, we have “okayed” creative time slots in our day; time to delve into a project (projects that are not money-makers or commissions) and simply create without a care in the world. We guard our time to create. Protective hedges have been placed around our work and we stand as one another’s keeper. This freedom is stimulating! One day, as we both well know, this won’t always be so easy (we laugh now, because even presently, this doesn’t seem easy). Still, no matter how busy we get now and in the future, we will fight for that time, that freedom to immerse. If we cannot find time, we make time.
Essential No. 3: Study As Much As You Practice.
“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them." -Aristotle
Tried and true advice from the masters. As much as we do, we study even more. Jake and I have surrounded ourselves with the greatest works of art, of literature and we pour over them, thirsty for what they can give. Then we apply our studies to our practice. Whether it’s studying a calligraphic exemplar and then executing endless ovals until memorized perfection or reading a new genre or author to refine my own voice. There is always something to learn, always something to observe, to consider, to inspect, to compare. We take from these artists, these authors, and we recognize them for what they have done and allow that to feed into our own creativity and to inspire more of what we do and do it to the best of our ability. Creativity and inspiration is a result of aspiration.
Essential No. 4: Expand Your “Palette”—Succeeding in Diversity
To keep creativity flowing, we expose ourselves to new ideas (forever learners, right?), whether it’s doing what we have always done but trying it in a new way or doing something completely different. Some people believe that doing one thing and doing it well is wise. Perhaps. But we are inspired by those who do many things and do them all well. We admire those who succeed in diversity and strive to be among them. There is untapped potential in challenges outside our ‘realm of expertise.’
Essential No. 5: Join Forces
Our first four creative essentials are a process of Know Thyself. Learning about your own creative process and how you work best can then lend you to the art of collaboration. In knowing where your skills lie, invite others into the fold. This creativity booster fuses the rest of our creativity essentials into one in that we are blending atmospheres of creativity across two (or multiple) artists’ of different disciplines and consequently cultivating a new wave of inspiration.
In these pieces, artist Jake Weidmann and poet (and dear friend) Eleanor Perry-Smith collaborate on their ideas and skill to create works of beauty and wonder.
In collaboration, we are also allowing ourselves to expand our tastes and interest while stretching our creative time slots and allowing ourselves to be immersed. And of course, collaboration inspires you to dig deeper into your art, your craft and understand it better than you would alone. Collaboration enhances creativity. It is the expansion of understanding of your art and that of another’s - challenging both artists- and combining the two to create something even more extraordinary.
So, here's to you and your creative endeavors!
How do you cultivate your creativity? What are your creativity cultivation essentials?