Making art

‘How do you make a piece of art?’

Making art is difficult at many a stage. No matter what corner of the artistic spectrum is yours. Starting a piece, continuing to create and then finishing are all, in their own rights, difficult steps. Here is a little help through the process of creating.

First: The start. Pushing yourself to write those first words, make that first brush stroke, put your pencil on the paper for those first lines, pick up your instrument and start playing those first chords, go outside to take that first photo or actually open your mouth to let your vocal cords vibrate harmoniously to produce beautiful vocal tones. We all have to start at the beginning. Pushing yourself  to begin is difficult, and here is a reason why.

Disappointment. Or, to nuance, the possibility of disappointment, the knowing that those first chords or the first drawn lines could be wrong or incorrect. It is the knowing that this is possible and the effort put into starting your art, grabbing your things and actually beginning, would be all for naught. But there is also the possibility that starting that piece of work could be the start of your masterpiece. But for the possibility of disappointment, you let your masterpiece go unseen or uncreated. The classical idea of a missed opportunity. Start something knowing that it’s possible that it can fail at first, accept it if it fails, or doesn’t, but then:

Keep going. You have your things you need, you’ve begun putting your efforts into your work, you’re in the mindset and in the flow of expressing yourself.

Keep going! If your work didn’t turn out, start another, try redoing it or, most difficultly and skilful, keep working on that failed work. If you’re drawing’s not going in the direction you’d like, keep going. Keep working and finish it! But remember: Whatever your decision, there is no shame in starting a new work. As long as you keep trying to improve, you keep doing what you like and keep using your skills. You have to keep working on your art. Finally finishing your work after several failed works, after days of trying and after mountains of disappointment and looking at your finished work, your effort exposed on a canvas or in a song, and being happy with that work will be the best feeling. The relief after disappointment of a work working out is the most exhilarating and, most importantly, satisfying. The long awaited and anticipated satisfaction of being happy with your work is amazing.

But then? What to do with your finished piece of pure beauty? Put it in a drawer? Store it on a hard drive to be forgotten? Of course not, silly. Publish it!

Now, this will be a difficult thing. Search some tips on how to publish things, that’s not up to me as I have no clue how to make your work exposed widely, but publishing is a thing I can do, proven by you reading this. Publishing can be hard. Criticism is a thing you will receive, and for some will be something that is difficult to handle. Understandably.

After all this effort and hard work the last thing you’d want is for someone you’ve never met before is to point out what you’ve done “wrong”. But we can get through this. Criticism is something to be happy with, as long as the critic is nice about it. Use it to improve your skill, look at things from a point of view you’ve never taken or thought about. Accepting criticism is one of the best things you can do for yourself. It broadens your view immensely, it makes you look at your work from a view besides your own, a more objective view of someone who does not know your story of making that piece.

Another thing people find difficult when publishing their work is a certain mindset which is very understandable after all that work, after all those disappointments and set-backs. That the piece they made is theirs, and no one else’s. After that work it’s yours, not to be exposed to others but only to you, the creator of that work. What ought to be said is that this isn’t selfishness and should not be treated or degraded as such, as this feeling is a deeply seated one of protection of something that is loved by someone.

But the contentness formed from feeling that your work is beautiful and perfect and yours is destructive to your abilities. Never publishing anything makes you unable to receive feedback and criticism, and does not allow for progressing and refining your skills and crafts.

And remember: Perfection is a myth, as you as the maker will always see things you’re unhappy about in your work from spending a lot of time with it, and something that is perfect to one will not be perfect for another. Strive for perfection, accepting that you will never reach it as perfection doesn’t exist. But do finish it, and publish it.

So, here we are. I started writing this after a long day of postponing. There were several unpublished stories drafted up and deleted before this, and after all that: It’s published.

The next step is up to you, as the consumer or receiver of this, or any work. Leave feedback, criticise, but be nice about it. pointing out the things you like is feedback too, as the artist may have taken it for granted and never looked at the things you find beautiful in the same way you do. It will help the maker infinitely.

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