Episode 12 How to be creative - Should I make art?

Updated: Oct 29, 2019


a little bit sick of (something) - fed up and not enjoying something

artist statement - description of an artists work

bigger picture question (a general idea question that is not specific)

stumble across something - to find something by accident

to make it (in something) or make it big - (in this context) to succeed

polymath - someone really interested and skilled in lots of different subject areas

hold you back - stop you from doing something

get your work out there - promote your work

choose your audience wisely - do your research before you show it to certain people

build your support network - find support from people like friends and family

(to be) used to something - to be familiar with something

literacy component /artistic component - a part or element of a larger whole

reinventing the wheel - doing something from the beginning or from scratch

build each other up - support each other to do something

self-promotion - promoting your work yourself

sell out - a betrayal of one's principles or morals

make a living - do something for money to pay the bills

stick around - keep on doing something or stay in one place

given up on the idea - decided not to do something or follow an idea

short and sharp - a statement in writing or in spoken language that is quick and to the point


00:00:25 Welcome back to Episode 12 of the Arty Anglais Podcast, the podcast where we talk about art, culture and society to help you learn English naturally. So today I thought I'd have a break from talking about Australia. Just because I'm feeling a little bit sick of talking about Australia at the moment. But don't worry, I'll publish the third part in the series on Australia in a few episodes time. Instead, I want to talk two things: what it means to be an artist; and how you can be creative. I'm going to talk about a few books that have really helped me with my own creative process to feel inspired to do art. In the next episode, we'll explore this idea a little further and talk about how you can write an artist statement, especially if you want to explain to people what you do as an artist. I want to do this because I'd like to get some of your art statements, your artist statements and share them on the podcasts so I can share the work that you do. I'm always super interested in hearing from other artists and knowing what they are doing. So that's the reason why the next episode I want to do something about artist statements.

00:01:45 Who is considered an artist? What does it mean to be an artist? Why is it so hard sometimes to label yourself as an artist if it’s not really your main job, for example? This is what we are going to talk about today in this short episode about being an artist and how to keep being creative. Last week, I shared on Instagram a question that I'm sure many of you creative people might ask yourself a lot - Should I make Art?

00:02:17 With this question, I included a flow diagram originally made by John Osebold. He actually commented on the post which was really cool. It's a flow diagram which will help you decide if you should make art. It starts by asking the bigger picture question (general idea not specific) - Should I make art? The first question in the flow chart is Do you have a formal art education? If you answer Yes - then the answer is Great - use it. But if you answer No - then the answer will be It doesn't matter. Then it goes on to ask Do you know anyone in the art scene? If you answer yes - 'Wonderful, they can help you'. If you answer no - the answer is again - It doesn't matter either! Finally, the last question the flow chart arts is Have you made art before and if you say Yes the answer is - Why are we talking then? Just make art! If you answer No - the answer is this. Okay, listen - not all art has to be in a gallery or a book or on a stage. Just make something for yourself or a friend or just because you're alive and you're contributing to the masterpiece of humanity ok?

I find this infographic to be a good example of how we shouldn't worry so much what everyone thinks. I stumbled across it at a time where I was thinking about if I should make my own art. If I should be doing my paintings. So there you have it - if you want to make art, you should be making art no matter what because John Osebold said so!

00:04:09 According to the Cambridge dictionary, an artist is someone who draws or paints pictures or creates sculptures as a job or a hobby. If you’re an artist, you’re a creator, you're a master & a maker of something that is yours. An artist is a person who creates novels, poems, photographs, films, or other things which can be considered as works of art. An artist is a performer such as a musician, an actor, or a dancer.

00:04:55 Being a popular or well-known artist or striving to be one is different to just being an artist. All you need to know for now is that if you are questioning if you want to make art and you want to do it, you should just make art. Do your paintings. Do your drawings. Make your sculptures. Make art! What if you do want to make it (to succeed) as an artist? As Seb Duke (who was one of our guests on Episode 7 explains in his podcast about Instagram marketing, you have to understand that not everyone is going to make millions off their art, not everyone is going to make it big (succeed) But that should not hold you back (stop you from doing something) from doing your art.

00:05:43 If making art is all you need to do to be classified as an artist then I guess you could say I’m an artist and therefore all the people I know who explore their creative passions are artists. I do drawings and paintings and urban sketches as a hobby. If you've listened to episode 2 you'll understand how much I love urban sketching and why. I don’t know why but sometimes I feel like it’s hard to say I am an artist because I’m not doing it for a ‘job’ and I didn’t study ‘art’ at university, and I don't really sell my paintings (at the moment anyway) however after some thinking time and a lot of reading to validate myself as an artist - I'm finally convinced that, if you want to call yourself an artist, if you believe deep down that’s what you are then you are! We don't necessarily have to define ourselves as just one thing! I mean, think of the likes of Leonardo DaVinci. He is often referred to as a Polymath of the Renaissance. He's referred to as a polymath because he was someone who was really interested in many things including invention, drawing, painting, sculpture, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, (wow this list is very long) botany, paleontology, and cartography. He was a scientist, an artist, a mathematician, an architect and an engineer. Leonardo believed in art being important for expression. He said:

Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen

Leonard Da Vinci believed we could express this creativity in many ways? What does this mean? It means - Even if you call yourself an artist, you’ll always have people who will critique what you do and decide how good of an artist you are but really that shouldn't matter because what you should be doing is making the art you want to make that makes you happy. If you say that someone is an artist in a particular skill such as painting, drawing, playing music, playing an instrument, sculpting etc you mean they're very skilled at it.

00:08:19 Maybe you’re an artist who is not sure about how to get your work out there and you want to share what you do. Getting out there, getting your work out there means showing people what you do. My advice to you is to meet and talk to other artists, as many artists as you can who share similar values to you. For me, this is what I do when I want to share ideas with other artists to talk about what you do. Talk about what you do - share your work. Choose your audience wisely and build your support network from there. My mum and dad and my partner are my biggest fans and you know what - that's absolutely enough for me- that's good enough for me.

00:09:12 An author I’ve been following the last few years Austin Kleon has four books which all talk about how to get your artwork out there (to be seen) and how to be motivated as an artist. I'm going to talk briefly about those books and how you can apply some of them to yourself when you think about yourself as an artist. I kept on seeing his books in all the different museums and galleries that I was going to and I finally decided that I was going to read them. So I'm going to talk briefly about those books and how you can apply some of those, some of the learnings and the things he talks about to yourself when you think about yourself as an artist.


Keep going

Show your work

Steal Like an Artist - (and Steal Like an Artist Journal Newspaper)


00: 10:02 Newspaper Blackout was released in 2010 and “helped fuel a movement” of blackout poetry across the internet. The companion site to the book, NewspaperBlackout.com, was named “a must-see Tumblr blog” by Time magazine. On the website he has published blackout poems made by people from all over the world and the site is read by over 140,000 subscribers. What exactly is a newspaper blackout? Well, it's a newspaper that has been drawn over with black marker to 'blackout' some of the words. Blackout can have a few meanings, but in this case, in the case of a newspaper blackout, it means a wiping out some words or getting rid of some words but keeping others. I'm going to explain how to do it. I'm going to explain to you how you can do it. There is also a video that you can see also in the show notes. It's very simple and easy to follow.

How to do it 1. Find inspiration #newspaperblackout

2. Get a black pen and a newspaper

3. Pick and Article (it doesn't matter what the article is)

4. Draw a box around the words you like to keep.

5. Blackout the words you don't need

6. Save your poem

7. Share it

My example

00:11:49 My dad sent me an article from a newspaper in Australia and it was about Dementia so I decided to use it for my newspaper blackout. I scanned it and I put one of my urban sketches over the top of it and put the results in the show notes so you can see what it looks like. The words that I picked These were the words that stood to me most because I think they represent the words that go through my brain while sitting in a place to draw or more so the words that I think relate to the ideas that I find that urban sketching makes me think about. I hope you like the outcome - I was pretty happy with it. I really liked doing this activity because it was a good challenge for me because I'm not usually creative in that way so it's something that I'm not used to. I also really like this activity for a reading activity or an activity that you can do with adults and teenagers because you can get them to explain the words they have used and why they have picked them there are all sorts of ways that you can link the literacy component to the artistic component of the challenge.

Steal Like an Artist

00:13:11 The next book is called Steal Like an Artist and it's my favourite of Austin's books. Probably because it's a method of life that I like to live by. For example - as a teacher, I'm used to looking for inspiration from other teachers. Sometimes when you're teaching you to have no time to prepare a class so, in order to not waste time reinventing the wheel, you find something that someone else has done and you make it work for you. When I say 'wasting time reinventing the wheel I mean to say that I don't want to waste much time or effort in creating something that already exists.

00:13:52 I also spend hours on the internet and I read books about different ways to paint with watercolours, different techniques to use, and different materials to use. Effectively all I do is steal everyone else’s ideas to make my own identity. However, everything I learn and all the techniques contribute to who I am as an artist. I’m creating myself as an artist because I’m paying attention and learning from the things I like but at the same time I'm filtering out the things I don’t. I’m also happy to share and teach everything I know with other people because artists should build each other up (support each other) to support each other.

The best quote from the book is on page 15 - a quote by Francis Ford Coppola. He is an American film director, producer, screenwriter, film composer, and vintner (producer of wine). He was a central figure in the New Hollywood filmmaking movement of the 1960s and 1970s.

00:15:37 I really like that quote because it's exactly it exactly what I am saying sometimes you need to start somewhere and that would be mean getting ideas from other people. Did you know that the famous street artist Banksy is an unashamed stealer! It has been said that Banksy has copied works from the Famous French street artist Blek le Rat. If you follow the links in the description to an article which appeared in the Daily Mail you'll be able to see the comparisons between Blek le Rat and Banksy. There are some very striking, striking comparisons between the two street artists work. They're very very similar.

In his book, Austin Kleon describes that you shouldn't wait until you know who you are to get started. You should just start despite feeling like your work has imperfections.

The best advice is not to write what you know, it’s to write what you like. Write the kind of story you like best — write the story you want to read - Austin Kleon.

This is exactly the philosophy I apply to these podcasts for example. Obviously, I'm also thinking about the language that would be useful to you also but first and foremost, I choose the subjects that I'm interested in writing about so they're interesting for me to make because they take a long time.

The same goes for my art. I always do what interests me the most, not what I think other people will like more.

00:17:15 The rules Austin gives in Steal like an artist: - Use your hands.

- Side projects and hobbies are important.

- The secret: do good work and share it with people.

- Geography is no longer our master.

What he means by that is that in this day and age with so many things on the internet, so many different videos and websites and blogs on how to do things. You're no longer restricted b the place that you live because of the accessibility things is so much easier now.

- Be nice. (The world is a small town.)

- Be boring. (It’s the only way to get work done so sometimes it might mean dedicating an entire weekend staying at home so that you can do your creative work (so that you have more time to do your work).

- Creativity is subtraction - What he means by that is often what an artist chooses to leave out that makes the art interesting. So if knowing where to start is something that you're really interested in then I highly recommend Steal Like an Artist as it will give you a good starting point and motivate you and inspire you just to get started.

Show your Work

The next book by Austin Kleon is a book for people who hate the idea of self-promotion and it's called - Show Your Work! If Steal like an Artist was a book about stealing influence from others, Show Your Work is about influencing others to steal from you.

I'm going to be the first to admit I always feel uncomfortable about showing my work. I don't like feeling as though I'm just doing it for self-promotion. Anyone that knows me well, knows that my main objective when I share something is to share it for the joy of sharing something with someone else.

In the book, Austin lays out ways to think about your work as a never-ending process, how to build an audience by sharing that process, and how to deal with the ups and downs of putting yourself out there and putting your work out into the world. Austin Kelon has some great ideas to convince you how to do your art.

00:20:02 You don’t have to be a genius to do art - anyone can do it. Think process, not product - this has really convinced me to start sharing me during the sketching process and not just the finished product. I was always really worried about sharing the work in progress because I felt pressured to share the most perfect piece on Instagram. I'm really convinced by this idea because every time I do people engage more with what I am doing and they ask me questions. Like how did you do this, how can I do that? So for me, I get a lot of enjoyment out of the act of sharing something that I do know it's going to help someone else to learn it's also good for others to see the process to help them learn.

Share something small every day.

Open up your cabinet of curiosities - try lots of different things.

Tell good stories.

Teach what you know - I absolutely live by this. I never stop trying to part with the things I know. I think thats the nature of being a teacher.

Don’t turn into human spam - Austin says:

"There's basically the people who want to take all the inspiration, and then there's people who want to flood you with their own thing that they're selling,".

"Sharing is an act of generosity. You're putting something out there because you think it might be helpful or useful to other people, You're not just sharing it because it furthers your own agenda or it self promotes." But sometimes it's hard

00:22:07 Learn to take a punch. - for me, this is the most difficult. I am bad at taking on feedback but I'm learning to be okay with it.

Sell out - What does he mean by "Sell out" This is a common expression we use when we describe someone who might compromise their moral values and principles or authenticity in exchange for personal gains, such as money. So Austin is suggesting that sometimes we need to do this in order to make a living (in order to make money).

00:22:53 Stick around - another expression which means to endure, tolerate or last through to the end of something. The main goal of the book is that it's not just for “creatives”! It's for artists, entrepreneurs, students, teachers, hobbyists or professionals. The motto of the book is to stop worrying and start sharing.'

Keep Going

00:23:22 The next book by Austin Kleon is called 'Keep Going,' He says - The world is crazy. I agree, there is so much information available to us. I don't know about you but I sometimes feel overwhelmed by how much is out there. I feel so overwhelmed sometimes that I don't know where to start with things and I get distracted. I get distracted by research and seeing new ways of doing things and posts on Instagram and sometimes I just need to take the time to disconnect. So this book is a good reminder for how you can block out the negative thoughts and the distractions.

Austin Kleon believes that creative work is hard and wants to give advice to his readers so they will keep going, keep on making art and being creative. This has been the most influential of his books for me because I've often felt like I don't know where to start with making my art and I don't know how to stay motivated. On one hand I want to make it my living but on the other hand, I just enjoy making art for the pure enjoyment of making something for me or for my family and friends.

00:24:36 Recently I've really felt a connection to my creativity because I've given up on the idea (give up - a phrasal verb which means decided not to do it anymore) that I should be making it for other people. Instead, I'm doing it because I really just enjoy it. I started sketching with a friend recently who has only just started drawing again. It's been a really good way to share my creative talents with her and to pass on my tips and advice to her and watch her grow as an artist. So for me, that's the best part of being an artist and the most rewarding part is being able to share a common love with someone and to help each other grow from a drawing relationship. That's such a nice way of looking at drawing.

00:25:32 In the book Keep Going, Austin aims to show artists 10 ways to stay creative, focused, and true to yourself.

1. Every day is Groundhog Day (a day that repeats over and over)

2. Build a bliss station. Austin describes a bliss station using a quote from The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell. He says you must have a room, or a certain hour or so in the day, where you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody you don't know what's happening on Instagram on social media. It's possible that a bliss station can be not just a where, but a when. In this day and age, it could also be known as a break from Instagram and social media.

3. Forget the noun, do the verb. (In other words, he means - forget the end product - focus on the process) 4. Make gifts - I love doing this. I love sharing my drawings with my family is one of my biggest joys that come to me. My nephew is wearing a. lot of the drawings on the clothes that he wears because my sister is making his clothes. 5. The ordinary + extra attention = the extraordinary.

6. Slay the art monsters - for too long we have the misconception that an artist has to be disturbed in some way to make memorable art. For example someone like Vincent Van Gogh.

7. You’re allowed to change your mind.

8. When in doubt, tidy up - when I am at a loose end (which mean I'm feeling overwhelmed by lots of things I always clean up my desk).

9. Demons hate fresh air. So obviously he means when you're feeling overwhelmed to go outside and get fresh air.

10. Plant your garden.

00:28:49 Another book which I recommend which follows a similar philosophy to Keep Going is called Art Matters by Neil Gaiman. Neil refers to himself as a writer and a creator. He writes books, and he's a creator of works of prose, poetry, film, journalism, comics, song lyrics, and drama. I stumbled across his book Art Matters (I found it unexpectedly) while browsing the English Book Shop called LeBookshop here in Montpellier. It includes short and sharp (short and to the point) motivational statements to convince anyone to create art.

This was my favourite quote from the book:

Make Interesting, amazing, glorious, fantastic mistakes. Break Rules. Leave the world more interesting for you being here. Make Good Art! - Neil Gaiman

Finally, some words of wisdom (in case I haven't yet convinced you why you should make art)

Why you should make art - (adapted from Art Biz Success)

1. Art is why you're here. If you don't make it you'll be depriving the world. Not just the potential of your art, but of the entirety of you.

2. Some people have talents that don't fit into a box, creative talents that should be nurtured.

I'm certainly a big believer in 'if kids show an interest in art and creativity, we should be cultivating that creativity and helping them to develop it in the best way possible.

3. Art nourishes the soul - it makes us feel better

4. Art encourages us to go within. It encourages us to slow down and escape to a place of peace and of contemplation. (This is certainly something I feel when I'm doing my urban sketching).

5. Art helps us connect to one another

6. Artists can help to tell the story in a way that an image or words can't always capture.

00:31:41 I hope I've convinced you that you should Make art! Maybe you already do, and I've convinced you more. So speaking of being creative and being an artist. I've been working on a document - How to write an Artist Statement (especially if English is your second language). I might not be an expert in writing an artist statement, but it's more of an exercise for you to practice your English. What I'd like to do is to be able to share some of your Artist Statements on the podcast. So if you're an artist and you'd like me to share your work on the podcast, make sure you join us for the next episode to find out more.

Until next time guys, I'll catch you later.


Why make art? https://artbizsuccess.com/why-make-art/

Why you should make art (even if you're bad at it)


Austin Kleon https://austinkleon.com/

Neil Gaiman


Blek le Rat vs Banksy

Blek le Rat and Banksy.