3 lessons every creative needs to live by

Words and Illustrations by Alex Arcenas

YOUTHREAD – Thoughts

A few months ago I attended an arts and design conference called Graphika Manila that featured some talented people in the visual arts industry. 

Inspired the words and works shared, here are some of the insights I synthesized from the talks which are broken down to what I saw were important things such as self-value, work ethic, and worldview.

LESS ABOUT YOURSELF & MORE ABOUT THE WORK | Self-value is so important.

As artists,  we sometimes clam up when we have to share our work because it feels too personal or too much of an extension of our self that we want to protect ourselves from criticism. While the feeling is true and valid, it’s good to be reminded that “you are not your art“.  We are all guilty of getting caught up with the approval of others which can be quantified through social media engagement or how much the industry would pay for it that it messes with how we perceive our work. We’ve got to leave behind the first barrier of insecurity –  you just never know who your work will inspire and what opportunities it may bring you.

Lauren Hom pointed out at the same time that there was no shame in self-promotion – because how else would you get yourself out there by yourself? Again it’s not entirely about you but your work. Focus on the work.

EITHER YOU’RE A PRODUCTIVE PERSON OR YOU’RE NOT | Work ethic makes or breaks you.

Everyones “passionate” about something but what makes a difference is actually doing something about it. As one of my favorite sayings goes, “Ideas are useless, execution is everything.” It follows through in art or any aspect of life; most times, just the thought alone doesn’t count for much.

This doesn’t mean you have to be working non-stop…it’s more of the reframing of your mindset that nothing you make is a waste. What you think might be trash could become useful in the future or spark other ideas so just do it rather than not at all. To actively keep thinking and creating is part of the process of getting what you envisioned because just wanting something isn’t enough.

THE IMPACT OF YOUR WORK IS GREATER THAN YOU THINK | Your worldview shapes your life.

Aaron Draplin talked about how design is more than it’s aesthetic value but instead is more significant in how it’s seen in different aspects of life. Sometimes the most important projects aren’t the ones for the biggest clients and companies but the ones closest to us like a family member’s life event or your local community’s fund raiser. You don’t have to go do “huge” things for your work to matter or make a difference. Whatever you create can have a profound effect whether it changes a thousand people or just one.

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