There is a point when life can feel a little less guided by the star of Bethlehem and a little more rerouted by the misunderstood witches of east wick. These pivotal points of fray and disenchantment can throw off our entire self-theory of evolution. "What happened?" "How did I get so lost?" And the worst one of all, "who have I become?" It’s at these moments that we need to stitch back together the pieces of our true self and wonder, "where exactly is she?" Well, I think I have the coveted answer - in our craft!
A mentor of mine once shared a clip of his favourite writer giving a graduate speech to a new group of arts' students, and the theme - make good art. Neil Gaiman quite clearly navigates his audience through their future life and work challenges with a three-word fall back – make good art. “Sometimes life is hard. Things go wrong; in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do: Make. Good. Art.” His string of scenarios all come back to this statement.
“Husband runs off with a politician. Make good art.”
“Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor. Make good art.”
My scenarios run a little closer to non-fiction. Times when I have been faced with a grief so painful I thought the depths of the earth would be warmer than my bed. Other times when I’ve felt that my contribution was meaningless and destructive. Or, on the flip side, when a love so deep gave me an enlightened view of every single human expression. In those times, and many other less pivotal moments, I looked to my craft.
We joined a collective such as this to make good art. To be in a community of likeminded artists, whatever that expression may be; I've seen florals that dive into theories of ethereal reality, jewellery that clashes bold feminism with divine femininity, and space-artists that have an innate ability to add emotion and storytelling to a room. For me, the craft is writing. The grab-a-journal-and-explode kind of writing. When anything goes astray, the pencil is never far away (sorry for the unintentional, yet still not deleted, rhyme). It’s not necessarily my happy place, but more my place to gather up all the scattered marbles and attempt to put them (momentarily) back in my pocket. Love, deceit, illness, stress, grief, birth, identity, anxiety, insomnia ... it's all there and it all has the chance to be free within the bind. It is with these shared experiences that we are a true collective of human beings. Yes, we want to share our craft and make a living from what we would otherwise be doing with our time anyway, but it is deeper and rawer than that. I think it's about overcoming our collective human fault – as Ekhart Tolle puts it – to put our ego and identity aside and leave room to create with each other and learn from each other.
My contribution to this collective is an attempt at nuanced expression through words. My craft is to write. I look forward to each new brief; the piece's unique theme, the tone that is you and your vision. Most of all, I look forward to giving the words back and working together to make good art.
Here is a link to Gaiman’s speech if you are interested and have 20 minutes (which I know is a big ask for creative entrepreneurs): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plWexCID-kA
Article published in The Perth Collective. theperthcollective.com