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8 Days on How to Get Started: Artist vs Artisan and Letting Go of Ego

Ego is one of those things that usually gets a bad rap. I think it can be used to your advantage in terms of giving you the confidence you might need to complete a project, but sometimes it does get in the way. There are very subtle ways that ego can stop you from creating and I wish I would've picked up on these traits right from the beginning which is why I'm sharing them with you today.


I talk a lot about practice, or practicing your craft, but then in the same breath I say that my work is one-of-a-kind. So how do you practice while also doing one-offs?


My biggest issue with being an Artist is that every project has to stand alone. You don't want to repeat your work, and oftentimes when you finish a project, you can't imagine it needing improvement. The theme for each piece is unique to that design and then you move on to another concept or another theme.


In my opinion this is your ego getting in the way. I think that it's ok to repeat work especially if you develop your thoughts, your ideas, your design, your technique, and your craft. I revisit old work all the time, and sometimes it doesn't hold up to my new standards so I either adjust it or take it apart. Many Artists will claim that a design is perfect as it is because it's what you put out in the moment.


But have you ever taken a class thinking you were going to do well, and then completely bombed the final? Didn't you wish you were able to go back and do it over? Don't you wish you had a second chance?


I feel like society pushes us to rush through our ideas and if they're not good, then that's it. You only have one chance to do that presentation, one chance to make your mark, one chance to stand out. Well, that's not the case with art. That's what your ego has been told to do because of society's weird standards on final outcomes.


Which is why I tend to romanticize/look up to Artisans. An Artisan devotes his entire life to a craft. He never believes he'll achieve perfection, because it's not about that. It's about getting better, doing the same thing over and over again. Think about the old shoemakers, for example. They maybe had three shoe designs, but they had to do them over and over and they just got better and better until they became masters at their craft. It takes them a lifetime to get there.


As much as I'd love to master a technique immediately, the reality is that I have to repeat it often until I find my own rhythm. Sometimes the tools that my mentors suggest don't work for me and I have to find my own methods, but that only comes with practice.


So how do I practice while also doing one-of-a-kind designs? I used to create collections where I'd select one or two techniques to practice and then I'd make 30 pieces within a certain theme and that would help me to improve my crafts(wo)manship. I was pushing myself to really understand every aspect of that technique and coming up with complicated designs, but it was the only way for me to learn.


That's all for today. Thanks so much for reading and take care,

Caitlin