I’ve been an artist since the day I could pick up a pencil or paintbrush. But at some point, I stopped thinking of myself as one.
I stopped associating as a creative because of social expectations. I was pushed away by the idea of the starving artist, while pulled by the idea of what career success “should” look like.
I told myself I can’t monetize my art. It’s a child’s dream.
The Creative in You
The artist, noticing something beautiful in the world, captures that moment forever. With every brushstroke, she honors the wonder of a moment that lasts milliseconds — the sun sinking below the ocean, or the splash of a jumping whale.
The writer, buried in the pages of a journal, discovers and rediscovers herself. Her handwritten dreams are meant for her eyes only, and for that moment only. The process itself cleanses her soul, washes her fears away, and brings her closer to truth.
The child, immersed in play, builds a magnificent castle with blocks. She plays for the pure joy of it, with no second thoughts of guilt or fear of neglecting something more productive. Without hesitation, she topples the finished castle with the swipe of a hand. Play for play’s sake.
All me. I’ve been all of these — the artist, the writer, the child.
And all of you. In different forms, we’ve all been a creative at some point. It was any time you were immersed in an activity for the sake of creating, expressing yourself, or chasing something that tugged at your heart.
At what point did we stop creating without an agenda?
Now that I’m writing almost daily, I feel more like my true self than I have in years. Beyond the words on the page, my mind flows easily to new ideas. When I observe the world from the eyes of an artist, I feel more grateful for the little things.
Through creating, and consuming in order to create, I return to my core.
Blending Business and Art
“In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace, not standing out is the same as being invisible.” — Seth Godin
I believe the strongest professional is the one who combines art with business.
It’s the artist who also understands how to sell himself. And the businesswoman who creates work that’s unmistakable.
When I started thinking of my profession as art, I began paying attention to how I could leave my original mark on my work.
Marketing, fundraising, product strategy, starting a startup, and even hiring — there’s an art to it all.
For technical roles — medicine, bus driving, engineering, and so on — even if you can’t improvise within the work, your process is an art. And how you communicate and pour your heart into your work is most definitely an art.
And for artists — the writer, musician, photographer — no matter what your craft, you’re also a personal brand. For your art to thrive, it’s important to focus on growing your business the way you focus on your art.
Start with the foundation. Follow best practices. Then craft your business from the heart to add your original mark.
But here’s the paradox. The moment you become too focused on your business, some of the magic in your art gets lost.
It’s a balancing act.
It’s because there’s something magical about creating art for art’s sake. That will always be the purest place to begin. It’s why we began in the first place.
Great artists delight themselves with the creative process. They create for the joy of it, not for the money. Their passion bleeds into their business, and so they end up delighting the person on the other side.
Creating From the Heart
““I try to dig deep into the well of my subconscious. At a certain moment in that process, the lid is opened and very different ideas and visions are liberated. With those I can start making a film.” — Hayao Miyazaki
It’s easiest to enter flow state when you create from the heart. When you’re unashamedly, honestly yourself. You have to be vulnerable and bare a bit of your soul. If you start worrying about what people may think, you’ll freeze.
Your mind takes over.
The pen, the keyboard, the camera — these are simply tools for creating your work. They are not the purest vessels of your art. Of your heart. You are the vessel. There’s no one in the world quite like you. So when you create from the heart — with as few mental filters as possible — no one else can replicate that work.
In a world where we’re constantly comparing and copying, sincerity takes us above the noise. It’s quieter up here. When we create something original that matters to us, how can it not attract the right people?
Trust yourself as the greatest vessel of your work. Use the unique DNA of your experiences, perspectives, and background. And further, use your silent hopes, fears, and purest dreams.
Business will follow the art of your life.
The creative process is a magical thing. The harder you try to be great, the more obstacles stand in the way. Let go. Stop overthinking. Come as you are. You already have everything you need. And let the magic flow.
If you want to overcome your limiting beliefs and accelerate progress towards your dreams, check out the short thought experiment below.
6 Limiting Beliefs Keeping You From Your Dreams — And a Thought Experiment to Overcome Them: