Often when exploring ideas I’ve been lit up by something I’ve made only to realise that someone else has got there before me – that my idea isn’t, after all, original. So disheartening. Yet I’m increasingly persuaded that originality isn’t the goal so much as authenticity – making something that is true to my ideas, that flows from a true place in me. Maybe others have arrived at the same spot by different means – if anything, maybe that’s a good sign, a validation or synchronicity. So as I’m feeling my way forward into another part of my course, I’m trying to reach inside myself and ask if what I’m doing rings true – does it really reflect what I’m feeling or expressing. In The View from the Studio Door, Ted Orland says:
‘When artists look at the qualities shared in common by all the wildly dissimilar efforts that have been recognised as art, they go by names like sincerity, trust, passion, care…The sincerity of the effort. The passion in its pursuit. The care in its execution.‘
And it seems the key to this authenticity is in the process; to focus on the making rather than the end result. Easier said than done, especially when the visual qualities of what we’re making are so important. But in his Incomplete Manifesto for Growth, Bruce Mau puts it like this
Process is more important than outcome. When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.
He also says:
Go deep. The deeper you go the more likely you will discover something of value.
I have taken this to mean going deep into a subject or exploration – of imagery, theme or concept. But I see now it may also refer to going deep into yourself to find that true thing that you most want to express or explore or bring to the surface to examine.