My biggest fear in leaving art school was losing the creative community I had built over the last several years. It felt irreplaceable, I would never again have this group of diverse and wonderful humans, all who came from very distinct experiences and who also had a myriad of interests and approaches to their own practice.
We saw each other every day, we witnessed each other’s process, discussed outcome, materials, ideas and other artists who inspired us.
Though it might sound cheesy- we helped each other to grow.
So when it was time to move on I wondered; how would I make anything without having my friends to help me through it?
When I did leave my creativity plummeted. I didn't make anything for 2 years.
Part of it was circumstantial, having to face the world that existed outside the studio and all that comes with it. But part of it was no longer having the support to propel forward with my ideas, or the space to do it in.
I recognized after 2 years away from my practice, how miserable it made me to not be creating.
I was miserable not creating before I went to art school and miserable after.
Just like an alcoholic goes back to drinking if they stop attending AA, I stopped creating without the support that was built into art school.
Since then I realized that what made me creative during that time was being surrounded with other creatives, artists who were experimenting with materials and ideas, who were going to art galleries and getting excited about the work of other artists.
I recognized that this was the biggest thing that was missing for me in terms of getting to work; not the fact that my art wasn't making me money, or trying to find the time to make it happen or any of those other excuses that distract us from working.
(Scale model with mock ups for my art school grad show)
If you take a look at artists throughout history, you will often find that they belonged to a community of other artists who developed their ideas collectively. In fact most art movements throughout history are associated with a number of different artists, rarely is there one artist who is solely responsible for a movement.
A perfect example of artists creating collectively is Andy Warhol's Factory. The Factory was Warhol's studio but it also functioned as a meeting place for artists, film makers, musicians and creative types. The space saw the meeting of such creatives as Jean-Michel Basquiat, David Bowie, Salvador Dali and Grace Jones- among many, many others.
Art does best out in the world, in dialogue, in public spaces, in community. Trying to create in isolation can feel futile. In many ways art school taught me that the purpose of art making is to create conversations, to instill community, to ask questions of our society. It doesn’t have power if it exists in solitude.
If you are lacking in creative productivity, I suggest finding yourself at least one friend who you can share your ideas with. If you're wondering where to begin to find other artists, consider starting your own Meetup group with likeminded artists, you can teach a class in the medium that you feel most confident in, or create a think tank of artists to help each other through ideas and concepts and execution.
Or if you prefer you can start online; share your work on Instagram or find an appropriate facebook group or start your own.
I can almost guarantee when you have others to share your ideas with your creativity will flourish.
And if you feel so inclined- join us over at The Imagination Project group on Facebook- we love new creatives to join in the conversation!