Advice from an Artist on How to Be Creative #3: Find Scared Space
This series of four ideas come from an email interview and conversation I did with Steve Thomas of curvefinder.com, and fellow altMBA alum. Curvefinder is a a personal project Steve launched to explore how people all over the world are innovating themselves, their businesses and the people around them. His aim is provide practical tools and inspiring insights, as well as profiling real people or every-day-innovators making positive changes for themselves and others.
Number 3: Find a sacred space in which to work.
Now I don’t mean get the absolutely perfect desk or space. I mean, create a mindset in which what you’re doing is sacred and separate from any other part of your life. It’s a space where the only voice that matters is your own — in your sacred studio space you are God. Yes, other influences will creep in. But you are the vehicle through which they arrive. You decide what form they should take or how much room they are allowed to take up.
This is an idea I have always worked by but only recently came to have words for.
As a part of altMBA 12, we were given a wonderful pack of books. One of these books is Lewis Hyde’s The Gift. Creative and the Artist in the Modern World. This book is a bit of a tough read, but its central ideas are pure gold.
Hyde examines the difference between gift economy and market commodities through the lens historical study, as well as an examination of the work of Walt Whitman and Ezra Pound.
Within the space of making art, he outlines three gifts within his ideas about gift economy.
The initial gift is of noticing and communing with your surroundings, imagination, dreams or other pieces of art. The world loves to be noticed and adored, and your soul revels in this action.
“The greatest art offers us images by which to imagine our lives. And once the imagination has been awakened, it is procreative: through it we can give more than we were given, say more than we had to say” — Lewis Hyde, The Gift,
The second gift is an artist’s labour, the demonstration of gratitude for the initial gift by using our artistic gifts in response.
“Alone in the workshop it is the soul the artist labors to delight” — Lewis Hyde, The Gift
The third gift is the finished work.
“The artist makes something higher than what he was given” — Lewis Hyde, The Gift
“The finished work is a return gift, carried back into the soul” — Lewis Hyde, The Gift
Within a sacred space, you are conversing with and through your soul. There are no outside influences. Just you and the work. You are not thinking about how you’re going to sell it, or who your audience is, or what they might think about the piece. There is only you and the work, the call and response, the push and pull.
Cultivating this kind of space can be tricky, not only carving out time or a physical space in which to work, but the mindset even more so.
The surest way to get there is to be totally in love or infatuated with what you’re doing. The desire to make comes as easy to you as breathing or eating. It is self-sustaining and nourishing.
So how do you find your sacred space?
You listen! Softly. Quietly. Reverently.
This is also why it’s so important to get to know yourself: only in knowing yourself well will you be able to discern the borders of your sacred ground; when you’ve arrived and when you’ve gone astray.
It’s subtle. Pay attention.