Do you own what you create? Do you put your own stamp on the process of creation?
Do you give yourself permission to break the rules because the rules are only there be broken? If I’m working on a craft project, I’m the kind of crazy person who follows a pattern or tutorial and then junks it half way through. I do my own thing. It rarely turns out the way the picture promises but I inevitably learn a great deal from the experiment. I use the instructions as a guide for my own creative process, not rules that dictate a certain outcome.
And when I’m happy with the result, I own it.
I find this trait especially apparent in those who are “self-taught.” I’m a self-taught web designer, you’re a self-taught crochet aficionado, she’s a self-taught writer. At some point, we were told that it doesn’t matter where our ideas or skills came from – we just have to own them to use them to their full potential.
When you have a sense of ownership over what you create, almost without fail, others will look on what you can do with wonder.
I recently spoke with Stephanie Fizer – an illustrator & artist who truly owns her own creative career. I found out that “creative ownership” is a theme in her process – and has been since she was a wee ballerina.
Tara: I love that you’re a self-proclaimed “self-taught artist.” Sheesh, that gives us all hope! What is something that you have been taught by someone else – unrelated to art – that has shaped your art or creative process?
Stephanie: Well, even though I’ve never taken an actual art class, I did study ballet for about 22 years–started when I was three and even studied it for three years in college. But my dance instructor through my teens was so wonderfully encouraging when it came to letting me explore my creativity. She always let me choreograph dances for some of our performances and just always allowed me to be so creative every day. It was pretty amazing and although I’m not involved in dance anymore, that teacher really gave me the confidence to continue to explore my artistic side in different ways.
Tara: oh! that’s so cool.
Stephanie: This is why I tell people who are going into a creative biz to really truly love what they do – I loved dancing but when I started doing it for 8-12 hours a day, the shiny wore off a bit and I ended up not loving it so much.
Tara: couldn’t agree more! Do you think that a sense of ownership (choreographing performances…) lends itself to creating?
Stephanie: Yes, even though there isn’t a physical record of the dances I choreographed, I still remember having the same feeling that I have now when I create new work, this amazing sense of having added something lovely to the world, like chipping off a tiny piece of my soul and handing it over to the world.
Tara: Nice. I think that must help you assign real value to it as well. So many artists have difficulty seeing their work as valuable…
Stephanie: so true! This is something that comes up time and again in my e-course. We always end up discussing this fear that artists seem to have about putting their work out there. I think it’s something the plagues all artist when they are starting out and then pops up again from time to time. It’s easy to let the fear get the best of you, let it really affect your confidence, but i’ve found that it’s best to just acknowledge that fear and then just shut it out and move on!
Tara: Amen, sister.
Allowing for risk-taking and deviation while creating gives us the opportunity to create something that has an intrinsic value. The product of our deviation is something that is not a mere copy but a unique product marked with our own point of view. By all means, start off with a guide or a formula – a set of instructions to shape your creating – but don’t stop there. Use a sense of creative ownership to give yourself permission to create something new, different, and distinctly yours.