Spring is here, and summer is right around the corner! Is this not the time to emerge from our caverns of slumber, put away the heavy sweaters and warm blankets, and bring in the brilliance of all things unique, colorful, and new?
When I think of spring I think of cleaning out the house and ushering in something creative and spontaneous. I am not saying you cannot be free, fluid, and artistic during winter, but if you are anything like me, the cold season is a time for rest and contemplation. I do not go out as much as I do during the warmer seasons. In the winter I daydream about unearthing ideas that have been pregnant in my belly for weeks. I plan and patiently allow my daydreaming to unfold as the season transitions.
So, this post is about birthing your creative ideas. How do you birth these ideas, you ask? The obvious answer is, JUST DO IT. Sounds like Nike’s slogan, right? Well, it is.
But I want to encourage you to do more than just ACT. Consider the possibilities by starting with the impossibilities. The impossibilities are the things we don’t always visualize ourselves doing. For example, I love to sing, but I do not call myself a singer; the idea of being on stage and bellowing out a poetic rendition of Nina Simone’s Little Girl Blue is frightening but exciting! I want to merge my singing voice with my poetic voice on stage (one day), so to work on my confidence, I decided to find a few trusted artists who sing well, who sing often, and who sing in front of audiences. I asked them to be my voice coaches, because they have teachers; they study music; they sing different genres, and they know the music vocabulary that I do not.
What else do I want to do? I already knit and crochet hats, scarves, and blankets for the cold seasons, but I want to expand what I create to include items for the warmer seasons – something I have not explored. My first step toward this goal is attending craft markets, strolling through boutiques, and reading magazines that emphasize knitting/crocheting fashion for this time of year.
I have so many things I want to try. However, in order to accomplish them, I have to do the work, not just check them off my to-do list. I invest in myself by being great at what I want to do as an artist. And yes, “great” may be subjective, but guess what? I’m the one defining what greatness is!
So the question is, what do you want to do? What would you like to create? What sort of art is inside you waiting to come out? In addition, what can you pursue that will not financially strain you? Sometimes we want to pursue something that won’t empty our wallets. Also note: this is not a call to take on the world and become a nationally renowned exhibiting artist in one week. You can aim for that later. I am simply saying, if you want to try your hand at something creative and something you have never done, here are a few wonderful ways to cultivate the creative spirit within.
This is the season for craft markets. Every winter and spring there is a wonderful craft market in my town that is sponsored by the nonprofit, Flint Handmade. I was fortunate to learn about it by attending one year. I was enthralled by the art people were creating: pottery, soy candles, greeting cards, paintings, jewelry, organic soaps and lotions, and so much more.
Two years later, I decided to apply as a vendor at the winter craft market. There were roughly 60 vendors (give or take). I made 16 items. I felt inadequate because almost everyone around me had more than 16 items. I sold 14 of them, donated one item to a silent auction, and the last item I gave to a friend. Wow! I was excited and humbled. I continued to apply as a vendor for the next two years, followed by launching my own Etsy business (which I close during the spring and open during late summer/pre-autumn).
Craft markets have so much to offer. They allow you to see what other artists are doing. You also get to network and share ideas.
I absolutely love attending art fairs during the summer. One of the biggest annual festivals is the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair in July. Artists come from all over the nation ready to sell as much as they can in their booths. The fair has so many activities, and it includes information about social issues in the world. It is almost overwhelming.
In 2011 I interned for Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor, and I had an opportunity to cover the festival. Check out the slide show I created:
Let’s not forget about literary festivals where there are endless book readings and writing workshops. If you are an aspiring writer, what better way to improve your writing? You can begin by:
- Reading. Find books that you like, as well as material you might not normally read. Broaden and challenge your scope a bit!
- Being among other writers. Listen to their journeys about the literary world.
- Accepting constructive feedback. Let others read and critique your work.
- Submitting your work to various writing contests. It is a great way to build your skills as a writer.
- Researching literary resources that offer tips. One of my favorite magazines is Poets & Writers. I’ve just named one out of hundreds of magazines. Also, if you want to know what’s out there, simply start by researching credible sources on the Internet. Compare and contrast websites.
- Journaling. It’s mobile and quite convenient when an idea or experience you’re having needs to be documented. If you are ol’ school, then a typewriter is still an option, although I suspect many may strongly suggest upgrading to a desktop, laptop, or iPad/Tablet. The point is, there is no reason why a writer should not be writing if that is what is in her heart.
Sometimes it’s our limitations that can create something beyond our imagination. When you feel limited and bound by rules, your frustration can lead to break through. Have you ever heard the phrase, “You have to hit rock bottom in order to get back up”? This is not the case for everyone, but our worse situations can create some of the most powerful art. I read an article by Scott Barry Kaufman entitled, How Constraints Force us to be More Creative. In other words, consider all the possibilities that might help birth your ideas. No one said that the birthing process was a hop, skip, and a jump; ask any mother who carried a child for nine months and endured labor pains!
So, it’s time to try something new, unusual, and outside of your box. Maybe the process starts with redecorating or reorganizing a room at home, painting or muraling a wall in your favorite colors, or writing a short poem (try a haiku, you can’t get any shorter than that!). The idea is to unleash your creative spirit, and however that comes out, is up to you, as long as you JUST DO IT!
Here are some online resources that I love to reference:
Promotes absolutely funky, original, and beautiful handmade items.
Explores what people are doing all over the world through visual art. I love browsing art by region. On this website, I am particularly fond of the work that comes out of Africa.
There are many artists on Facebook promoting their work. It’s worth finding out who your Facebook friends know; this can be your link to other artists whose work you find inspirational.
Traci Currie is the Art + Creativity contributor for the Phoenix Rising Collective. She is a Communication Studies lecturer at University of Michigan-Flint, as well as a knit-crochet artist, writer, and spoken word performer. She has been a part of the art world for over 15 years as an art gallery board member; spoken word series organizer for 5 years; performer, nationally and internationally; and published poet. She believes the PRC will help young women reach their highest potential. “This organization is about empowering women to take ownership of their lives, claim their identities and be the positive change they wish to see in the world they live.”