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Friday, September 2, 2016

What is the Purpose? When Artists Are Compelled to Create

I create just because I am compelled to do so. A friend asked me a simple question one day regarding a project I was working on. It really made me think. He simply asked "what is the purpose?" Was I creating them for a specific reason? Like a show or an auction? 

I thought about it a moment and responded "I create them because I have no choice". There was no better answer. I was not creating for a show. There was no grander purpose in mind for anything I was making. I just felt compelled to create and as always an urgency to not stop.

Why do any of us create? I remember being disappointed once that a favorite author of mine was quoted saying "I only write because its a quick way to make money". Is that all its really about though? I think that author lost his true reason somewhere in the past. Perhaps he didn't even realize he lost it. I hope that all creators are not that cynical. 

For me the act of creating art serves multiple purposes. It allows me to express myself in a way that I would never be able to do in any other kind of work. I was a book writer once (not a very good one) and I found that it allowed me to express myself in some ways, but not others. Later I became a professional photographer and felt that like book writing it allowed me to express parts of myself, but still not the whole. It was only when I became an artist that I finally found both my true calling and my truest and best form of expression. I still write (your reading it) and I still photograph, but now I am doing both with the destination of art. Its like everything fit into the box of who I am nicely. 

It is a fact that when I get sick or have a bad day where i am not able to create that I feel like only half a person. Like my arm was cut off or something. When I am having a bad day, if I force myself to create, I stabilize and become calm again.

I do not create for profit, or for any specific goal. I create because I must. 

Most important, I create in order to push my own creative boundaries. I want to see how far I can go, how far I can push my own limits and how much I can absorb without losing my mind. 

I think its something in the creative mind that makes us obsessed with certain things. Is it healthy? I would like to think so. 

In a society which judges the success of almost everything on how profitable that thing is, its almost a stigma to say you are doing something just for the joy of it. Sure its okay to say that about a sports or a hobby, something that is merely a relaxation. But to say it about your life career is a whole different matter. 

That is not to say that many of us don't do it anyway, we may just not be as vocal about it. 

So ask yourself "what is the purpose of your art?" Be honest. You may find the answer surprises you, or perhaps not. But its a question worth asking.

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