Innovating Through Artistry

Posts Tagged ‘Entrepreneurial Arts’

Ten Steps to Finding your Artistic Voice.

In Author: Jim Hart on August 26, 2009 at 6:14 pm

Ten Steps to Finding your Voice.

“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves”. — Carl Jung.

This is such a wonderful quote and is one of the keys towards finding ones voice as an artist.

Many artists fall into the trap of either imitating their favorite artists (attempting to serve as a cheap imitation of greatness) or by sticking too fast to their technique training they received in school. Remember that programs (meaning institutions educational offerings) do what they are called. They “program” students. It is very easy for artists to take the technique their teachers offer and become dogmatic about it, as though they have “found the answer”. Artists need to be careful that they do not fall into the trap of being “cookie cutter”.

When I was active as an actor in New York, following graduation from Yale School of Drama, I could easily tell which actors graduated from Yale, which from Juilliard and which from NYU. This is because the actors were products of their learning…of their programming and often behaved in relatively typical fashions. To the trained eye, it was easy to see.

Prior to going to graduate school, I was told by a friend and respected actor to be careful. He said, “Do not let them iron out what makes you unique”. I did not understand what he meant at the time, but view that advice now as sage.

Finding ones voice means finding ones own technique and aesthetic. An artist’s job is to experience technique as one would a buffet. Try everything. If it tastes good, swallow it. If it is not right for you, spit it out. What is ultimately your technique should be what works for you, personally. If you are like most artists of innovation, this technique will be a patchwork of many influences–not just one approach of one or two institutions.

Technique is just a means to and end. Technique is simply a series of tools that generate a result. Certainly, technique liberates art and the more talent one has, the more technique one needs. But, technique is meant to be learned and then forgotten. The function of technique is to give an artist a starting point and then a sense of freedom. It can also serve as a fallback measure when all efforts seem to be failing in the creative process.

I have no regrets about my educational choices and would likely repeat them, if the opportunity arose in another lifetime. But, it has taken me years to get away from my “programming” and to find my unique voice.

Encouraging artists to find their voice and making such practice a key element of training needs to become standard offering in arts education. Austin Conservatory of Professional Arts will do this.

How does one find their unique voice? Well, one won’t find it in most educational environments. It requires experimentation, personal meditation and assessment and can only be discovered by the artist themselves.

Here are some tips I have found useful in discovering my own voice, which I would like to share.

  1. What do YOU love? As Jung said, “The creative mind plays with the objects it loves”. Don’t approach answering this question, based on what you think you SHOULD love. What do you, personally, love? Joseph Campbell, the famed mythologist, would call this your “bliss” and he would encourage you to “Follow your bliss”. What do you most like to think about? What gives you joy? What ideas do you like to play with? What thoughts cause you to lose track of time?

  2. Be who you wish to seem. What type of artist do you want to be? What audience will you serve? What will your medium be? Will you be politically oriented? Will you dedicate your energy to the classics? Will you serve as a bold visionary?

  3. Make Choices. The blank canvas and the sheer number of choices available overwhelm many artists. Just make choices. You can always change them later. Make a choice and then make another and then another, etc.

  4. Know your history. Unless you know what has been done in the past, you are likely ignorantly imitating forms of past and present. If you know what has been done, you know if you are doing something new.

  5. Surrender a need to be “right” and “good”. Ibsen was not “Ibsen”, prior to years and years of personal development. Greatness comes with time. Give yourself time. Remember:  There is no right and there is no wrong. There is only what you create. What you create today will likely be different from what you create tomorrow. So, forgive yourself if you appear to be an ugly duckling at first. Most first efforts are not products of genius.

  6. Steal from greatness. Nobody creates on an island. We are each products of experience and external influence. There is nothing truly original and all ideas are a mixture of other people’s ideas, whether we consciously realize it or not. So, if you see your heroes doing something stunningly effective and you would like to play with that idea, choice or medium, do it. Who are your heroes? What about them inspires you? If you are into a particular artist, what about that artist makes your heart race? Be specific. Make note.

  7. Have courage. Most peoples social programming (what they have been taught is right and wrong, their social values and what they are told to do and think they “should” be doing) gets in the way of freedom of expression. We need to access our stream of creative impulses (as crazy, dark, weird or foreign as they may be) and to follow those without fear or judgment. Don’t judge your choices, as this is a form of self-censorship and does not lead to artistic freedom.

  8. Synthesize your interests. Do you have numerous interests and talents? Do you find you struggle to dedicate your energies in just one area, which causes you to neglect your other interests or passions? Find ways to synthesize those varied interests. In doing so, you will feel more whole as an artist and person.

  9. Play with your ideas, as a child plays with a new toy. Experiment. Jump off the cliff and see what your ideas generate. But, if you are truly experimenting, know what the experiment is and use a scientific-type structure. Otherwise, you are just “playing experiment”.

  10. Allow your freak flag to fly. New ideas are typically, at least at first, rejected by the general populace. The more innovative and different the idea, the more rejection the creator will likely receive…until it is proven successful. Then the idea will be embraced by all as common sense.

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. —  Arthur Schopenhauer

Finding your unique expression, form, medium or aesthetic as an artist will lead towards greater originality, potential innovation, potential happiness and artistic satisfaction. More importantly, you just might contribute towards your culture and cultural forms in profound ways.

Summary: Cast off the cookie cutter programming and embrace the Freaky Flag.

Jim Hart is the founder of Austin Conservatory of Professional Arts, The Hart Technique and The International Theatre Academy Norway.  www.harttechnique.com

To contact Hart, email him at jim@harttechnique.com

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Fear Makes the Wolf Bigger than He Is.

In Author: Jim Hart on August 25, 2009 at 9:32 am

“Fear Makes the Wolf Bigger than He Is”.

This old German proverb hits the nail on the head.

Fear is the great “mind number”. This emotion, more often than not, is the greatest obstacle that prevents us from achieving our goals, dreams and potential. What this means is that our downfall or lack of success is largely of our own making and, thus, within our own control.

Overcoming of fear is what the Mythic Structure of the Journey of the Hero is about–or rather, Fear and Doubt. But really, just fear, as doubt is a derivative of fear.

The fear we often anticipate, when encountering new experience, is almost always greater than the peril the actual experience brings. In brief, we can work ourselves into a tizzy, fearing the unknown and “what might happen”. Our imaginations create monsters under the bed and in the closet. But as adults, we know that those monsters and wolves are not really there. They are self-generated.

Here is a question for you:  In beginning a process of change, when you feel fear, what is it that you are afraid of?

If you are like most, it is the UNKNOWN. But let’s think about this for a minute. Do you ever really know what is going to happen next? If you live a predictable life, you can predict what is to happen next (and sometimes even with some certainty), but you never really know. Life is a mystery. The other thing that most people fall into the trap of, is fearing failure, embarrassment, humiliation. These words translate to mean JUDGEMENT. People will always judge–for good or bad and such judgements we have no control over. Besides, is that a valid reason for surrendering dreams and potential? Fear of the unknown (which is life) and judgement (which is inevitable)?

Letting other peoples’ judgement affect our actions is a giving over of our own power and authority to others. Why should they have that sort of authority? We each have the potential to be the makers of our own destinies and are each far more powerful than most of us even realize.

How do we overcome our fear? Experience.

Experience brings perspective and knowledge.

How do we gain experience, even though our hearts race with fear and our fight or flight mechanism is saying, “Run”?      Here it is:    Just keep going.  Go through the experience.  Allow the fear to be present and just keep going.

When we enter a spook house during the Halloween season, we are confronted with all sorts of intense stimuli. People jump out at us, we see scary sites, our fight or flight mechanism is engaged, etc. But as any person who has been to such a horror house knows, if you just keep going forward, you inevitably exit out of the house and into the cool night air, away from the illusion of mayhem.

The trick is to not just stand in place in a state of shock or to retreat to supposed safety (away from our destination or goal), but to keep going forward, putting one foot in front of the other.

Entrepreneurial Arts Training teaches artists how to succeed, despite overwhelming obstacles and teaches, via experience, how to overcome our greatest obstacle of all–our self-imposed fears and the obstacles we create for ourselves.

www.harttechnique.com

Jim Hart is the founder of The Hart Technique and Austin Conservatory of Professional Arts (ACPA). In the autumn of 2010, ACPA will open doors in Austin, TX. To learn more about the educational offerings, contact Hart at jim@harttechnique.com