Innovating Through Artistry

Posts Tagged ‘Innovation in the 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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Innovation in the Arts: ArtPeace Inc.

In Leadership, WEBSITES & BLOGS on February 27, 2009 at 12:41 am

Thank you, MARK LEWIS from Strategic Ideas.Org for passing this along! There are many ways to bring the community together here at ETA. One of the ways you all can participate is by forwarding on websites, articles, blog posts that remind you of the issues that get bounced around here at ETA. Please keep sharing!

july4-2004-046_homeArtPeace, Inc. is a 501(c3) not-for-profit organization founded in Rochester , NY who is devoted to transforming education and creating social change by developing strengths in under served youth and adults, through the integration of arts, recreation, technology and entrepreneurship.

Kristin A. Rapp, LMSW, a social worker and therapist with a background in the arts conceived the idea for the organization based on her beliefs, that are also those of ETA, that we must envision a rise of the creative class in the 21st Century. We must create a generation of critical thinkers, innovators and responsible citizens of all ages who are prepared for life and work in a global community.

ArtPeace has seen tremendous growth since they became a not-for-profit organization in 2003. They went from being a “tribe of one”, providing creative arts therapy and producing public art works, to employing 90 youth and professionals in 2005, when they ran their first “young entrepreneurs” program.

The idea for ArtPeace came to Founder,Kristin A. Rapp, LMSW in 2000 when she was working with kids in foster care and figuring out that the traditional ways of handling problems in young people – counseling, medication and mainstream educational methods – were not as effective as they could be. These kinds of students needed to be engaged in productive activities that were meaningful to them with caring adults who could see their strengths.

ArtPeace was founded based on the premise that everyone is innately creative and that expression is the opposite of depression.

ArtPeace originated having therapeutic underpinnings and it continues to be the foundation of what they do. With their goal being to create healthy, well-adjusted and responsible young adults who elevate into peacemakers and agents of social change, they accomplish this through offering innovative education and youth employment that develops entrepreneurs, leaders and more effective workers.

“By targeting a person’s strengths, interests and dreams, ArtPeace helps young people see that they have a legacy to build and can craft their lives into something great because “all things are possible…” when they use their gifts and work hard.”

In fact, developing an entrepreneurial spirit is essential in a flattening world. In order to be employed and marketable in a global economy, young people will need to be creative and flexible individuals who can think on their feet, even if an opportunity is lost due to downsizing or outsourcing. Arts and technology skills further the rise of the “creative class.”

In addition, ArtPeace instills the “soft skills” that are needed in life and that employers are looking for. These include the ability to listen, communicate, make decisions, work collaboratively, be responsible to yourself and others, resolve conflicts and solve problems. They also build stepping stones to the “hard skills”, including using up-to-date technology and developing math and science skills, in creative ways.

“We want to develop individuals who take their civic responsibility seriously, give back to others and work together to make their community better, starting with themselves”.

Inside The Philosophy of ArtPeace
At ArtPeace, we don’t shy away from working with some of the most challenged youth, including chemically dependent, emotionally disturbed, mentally ill, developmentally disabled and those in the foster care and juvenile justice systems. We like to integrate low and high achieving youth. There are gifted and talented youth all along that spectrum and we realize that creativity is inherent for all. The arts and technology reach out to even the most isolated, nonverbal or troubled youth. We make every effort to wrap supports around our kids and to engage their families, realizing that they need support and opportunity as well.

Young people are immersed in a world of media, but we want them to be critical thinkers about what they are exposed to. We provide opportunities for them to be active creators of art and media and not just a passive audience.

The most effective interventions are those that are engaging, positive and practical. The arts and technology are powerful vehicles in this media-savvy world and the quantitative research, as well as qualitative and anecdotal evidence, backs this up.

Young people who participate in some form of artistic expression for at least 3 hours, 3 days a week for at least one year are:

* 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement
* 3 times more likely to win an award for school attendance
* 4 times more likely to participate in a math or science fair
* 2 times more likely to read for pleasure
* 2 times more likely to perform community service

When engaged at school, truancy is prevented, performance is improved (grades go up), kids stay in school and are promoted. It is proven that the arts improve concentration, math and science skills, reasoning and discipline. Many national arts-based youth development programs site impressive test scores, advancement to college, leadership skills and elimination of maladaptive behaviors. The arts and technology tap into the myriad of developmental assets (outlined by The Search Institute in Minnesota ), higher order thinking and provides authentic opportunities to apply literacy, including visual and media literacy.

ArtPeace is building a model that develops strategic partnerships with successful businesses and in the corporate sector to train our future workforce. We also work with local colleges, in order to prepare diverse young people for higher education and to further develop their skills. Through the advancement of the products that ArtPeace entrepreneurs develop, we strive to become self-supporting, with consistently building revenue. By creating a workplace that is non-hierarchical, based on the “Sanctuary Model,” where power is shared, communication is open and honest input is valued from all, ArtPeace strives to become a top employer.

If you are interested in learning more about ArtPeace click here. To email Kristin: kris@artpeace.org