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Should you try to be unique?

July 22, 2015

Yellow pyramidsI think trying to be unique misses the point of why we make art, music, poetry, etc.—and that is to elucidate or make present in the world some inner idea, vision, sound.  And here’s the thing: We are already unique, so being honest with the expression is a truth about yourself. Striving for difference is, on the other hand, an external reflection. It is recognizing what everyone else is doing and strategizing about how to position yourself in contrast. It’s not about what you see or hear, it’s about being witty or establishing a measurement of your “difference” IQ. The question is not whether to work for “difference” but, instead, to work for your own personal truth.

George Stoll says this about making art:

I like the challenge of making art and my primary motivation is curiosity. I really do want to know what something will be like if I make it. The most satisfying aspect of being an artist, for me, is to spend most of my time working out ideas. From the beginning of mankind, some of us have been artists, and my intention is to contribute to this ongoing and ancient conversation.

And Sharon Butler offers this:

From my early monk-like devotion to painting alone, to a cross-disciplinary embrace of digital projects, writing and abstract painting, my art practice has changed tremendously and unpredictably over the last 20 years. Recently I’ve concluded that I’m better off following my instincts, no matter how non-linear or disjointed they seem. For me, the process is always going to be (a little) more important than the tangible product or conventional success.

both quotes from Living and Sustaining a Creative Life – Essays by 40 Working Artists

So…be curious and follow your instincts. Unique will follow right along.


oil pastel from my sketchbook

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