Woody Allen on writing: “Even when you’re not thinking about it, your unconscious is cooking. Even when I’m playing my clarinet or seeing a movie or something, even though I’m not consciously thinking of it, the unconscious is percolating.”
Aimee Bender is the author of four books including The Girl in the Flammable Skirt (1998), and The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (2010) which recently won the SCIBA award for best fiction.
Her fiction has been translated into sixteen languages. She lives in Los Angeles, where she teaches creative writing at USC. [From bio on her site, also source of photo, www.flammableskirt.com]
In an interview, she commented about the central value of the subconscious or unconscious for creative work: “I realized that my parents, in a way, had a similar job: my dad, through psychiatry, is dealing with the unconscious and forging his way through other people’s unawareness and bringing them into the air to look at, and my mom is delving into her own unconscious to make up dances.
“She’s a dance teacher and choreographer. And I’m sort of the combo platter, in that psychiatry is so essentially verbal and well, duh, of course so is writing, and also I am like her in that it’s all about creating from this inexplicable mysterious place.”
The triune brain model of the nervous system (to simplify it) says we have a reptilian complex as the most “primitive” part of our brain, plus the limbic system and the neocortex.
In his article The Evolution of Anxiety, Rich Presta explains that the amygdala is part of the “reptilian brain” – “because it’s been around since we were virtually reptiles ourselves, and one of the main jobs of the amygdala is assessing danger and keeping us safe.”
In her article Does the Internet Make You Happy? Thoughts from SxSW, psychologist and teacher Pamela Rutledge, Ph.D. says, “At the lizard level, we don’t distinguish readily between real and virtual in our visceral response.”
She notes that even ‘virtual’ experiences are interpreted as meaningful by the lizard brain.
Jennifer Lee is a coach, artist, author of the book The Right-Brain Business Plan, and the founder of Artizen Coaching. She consulted for a variety of corporations before forming her own venture.
In a profile on her site, she notes “As a kid, I was always painting or drawing. By the time I was a high school sophomore, though, I began comparing my artwork with others and gave into limiting beliefs like ‘I’m not talented enough.’ There went my creative spark!
“So, like all other good young adults, I focused on doing well in school so I could get into a good college and have a good career.”
She has a Masters in Communication Management and consulted for 10 years at companies including Gap, Accenture, HP and Sony.
But, she admits, “Although I enjoyed the challenge of helping leaders and organizations manage change, I knew something was missing. I wanted to make a real difference in people’s lives and to have creative freedom.”
“Once I stopped asking for approval, my art started to get stronger.” – Lela Lee
Lela Lee created “angry little Asian girl” Kim for a video production class at UC Berkeley. After graduating with a degree in rhetoric, she made a short cartoon of Kim and a group of friends. Now she publishes a comic strip and many other creative projects.
Lela Lee will be speaking at The Wealthy Thought Leader Conference the end of May. That link is to my Inner Entrepreneur post about it (including a video).
The conference website has a profile on her:
“Lela is creator of the comic strip ‘Angry Little Asian Girl’ and although they’re not related, Andrea [conference director Andrea Lee] credits Lela’s work with the relief that, as a teenager, maybe she wasn’t alone in her anger after all.
“Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”
- Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol was able to develop art-making into a very successful business, but we’ve heard of many great artists who sold hardly anything in their lifetimes.
Stories of starving artists seem to have more currency in literature and the media than the many examples of artists who prosper, and that image can fuel distorted and limiting ideas about being a creative person, even if you aren’t yet an “artist” (however you define that).
The photo is Ewan McGregor in “Moulin Rouge” as Christian, at his typewriter – an impoverished poet drawn to the Bohemian life of Montmartre.
One of the ideas about artists that I list in my post Artists are Crazy; Mothers Can’t Be Artists, and Other Myths is that “Artists must be poor and sacrifice their well-being for their art.”
These kinds of ideas and myths have also been discussed by Julia Cameron (“The Artist’s Way”) and Alyson B. Stanfield – an art business consultant who “helps artists, galleries, and organizations gain more recognition, organize their businesses, and sell more art.”
Visit her site for the book, plus workshops, programs and free resources: ArtBizCoach (“Helping Artists Sell More Art”).
Her book title – “I’d rather be in the studio” – is something many creative people can relate to – I know I do: I would rather be writing than concerned with marketing.
If you create just for your own pleasure and mental health, that is of course fine. But if you want to get your creative work seen and acknowledged, and have it financially support your life, you need to see …
Writer, poet, playwright and filmmaker Julia Cameron says she sometimes asks people to list ten traits they think artists have.
She reports they say things like “artists are broke,” “artists are crazy,” “artists are drug-addicted” and “artists are drunk.”
Cameron asks, “Doesn’t this make you want to rush right out and become an artist?
“We have a mythology in America around creativity that’s very, very negative.”
From my post You want to be an artist? Are you crazy?
Other ideas about creators include these:
“Artists must be poor and sacrifice their well-being for their art.”
“Artists are ‘bad’ at marketing.”
In addition to singing and songwriting, and helping design her costumes and stage shows, Lady Gaga recently directed one of her own music videos.
In a recent Tweet (that is to say, a Twitter message, in case you don’t know), she wrote about another creative project: “I Designed a Japan Prayer Bracelet. Buy It/Donate here and ALL proceeds will go to Tsunami Relief Efforts. Go Monsters.”
Lady GaGa has said she “felt like freak” in high school, and creates music for her fans who want a “freak to hang out with.”
She admits it took her a long time to be okay with how she is, and get beyond needing to fit in, or be like everyone else – “but not really” wanting to be. One of the names she uses for her fans and herself is “monster” – as a term of endearment.