To be called an “artist” at what you do is generally considered to be a compliment. The term ‘artist’ can actually be applied to a wide array of professions and avocations. Yet the act of creating art is something done with a specific intent, for example; to communicate visually, through music, dance or theater. All these are ways people express themselves through the arts. If setting out to create art is something you choose to do, there are many risks and potential rewards along the way. But whether you succeed or fail at the endeavor, working to create art holds a number of life lessons that can make you better at what you do in other phases of life.
Not all art is beautiful, nor are the people who create it
Creating real art is such a challenging activity that some would-be artists have been known to make the mistake of playing the part of an artist through appearance in hopes it will help them overcome the difficulty in creating really good work. But looks generally don’t make an artist unless the art form specifically calls for it, as in dance or theater. Even those art forms are as likely to celebrate the mundane or ugly to capture the full range of human experience. So don’t be a poser: Find ways to create your work that do not involve false distractions of showing off in front of others unless you are specifically performance-based and/or demonstrating your technique or medium.
Artists are valuable to society precisely because they think differently.
A 2010 Getty Foundation study found that many corporations have begun seeking out people trained in the arts to bring creativity into the organization. Perhaps society has begun to realize that art is not just a playful pastime, tbut that creating art requires free thinking along with the will and skill to apply that thinking. It may be that artists, not just economists or MBAs–are what the world needs to break out of its more limited, destructive practices. Blind repetition is what causes many organizations to fail, and it is said that the mark of insanity is to repeat the same failed attempt over and over. Artists are often able to look outside familiar patterns to find solutions.
It takes great organization to make great art.
The traditional view of artists is that they are dreamy, disorganized and impractical. Throw in “starving” for one more bad cliche and you have a depiction of artists as people who contribute little or no good to society. But these characterizations of artists are far from accurate or complete. Anyone who has ever attended rehearsal for a major theatrical production, symphony orchestra concert or dance performance knows that true art is a discipline. The same goes for the visual arts such as painting, sculpture or pottery. All these activities require deep knowledge of the materials and a mind to organize them into creative forms. Even artists who set out to create an atmosphere or image of chaos need to know what order looks like in order to oppose it.
The arts are as valuable to a good education as math, science and language.
What too many people fail to realize is that the arts are simply creative expressions of the same important mental principles used in disciplines such as math or science. Learning music calls on areas of the brain used to compute math problems, and many of the visual arts draw on the same powers of observation used to conduct science. Certainly language, reading and writing gain great affirmative powers through participation in theater arts. Our most successful schools often are the institutions that either require or encourage participation in the arts. The joyous training students receive doing things they love develops their brains and opens new pathways to learning.
Creating art should be the goal of every person.
Noted novelist Henry Miller was no great realist painter. Yet his watercolors shone with a vibrancy many artists strive to achieve in their work. Miller was able to love what he did with watercolors even if his efforts did not fall into categories of what others might consider “finished” work. Similarly a violist with one of the world’s top symphonies considers his composing his “real work” while the world class ability he displays with his instrument is to him primarily a job. Many of the best potters at one liberal arts school were students from the Pre-med program. Think of it! These people would someday be doctors, yet found satisfaction and achievement in being artists when presented the opportunity. Wouldn’t you prefer your brain surgeon to be an artist at what he does? We should never allow ourselves to be hemmed in by the limiting expectations of others. Only by resisting the world’s tendencies to tell us how things should be done… will we actually have the power to imagine how they could be done. Perhaps then we can come to appreciate the true value of the artist in the world.
The life lessons in creating art may be some of the most important lessons we can learn in life. Art enhances our existence whether we strive to create it or are content to admire it. The mere existence of art is a life lesson for us all, for it represents a real soulful connection between human beings.