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Art For Self-Expression And Why It’s Different

I often talk about doing art for self-expression and I’m aware it can sound a bit intangible. What does that mean, art for self-expression?

For me it is the crux of why I do art and what I want to put out into the world: to help people do art for self-expression rather than for result.

In our education system you’re often learning by doing a project or mastering a technique. The media we see online is usually of an end product, not necessarily the journey. That can give you a skewed view of what art can be. It all feels very results focussed.

It can be really difficult, because we are so focussed on results in our lives, education and careers. We are often concerned with the end of the journey and how to get there efficiently and quickly, rather than the journey itself. Of course there is nothing wrong with knowing what you want and going for it, like wanting to make beautiful or pretty art. I love making art where I enjoy the result. But if that is all there is, we’re missing out on a big part of what art can offer.

Recently there has been a shift:

It’s becoming more popular to talk about mindfulness, the journey, being in the moment

What I like to do with art for self-expression is for it to have less focus on the result. This has been the red thread through my journey: moving from a more results focussed artistic practice to a more self-expressive artistic practice.

And I have good news! In this process there is no bad art, but there is also no good art. That concept of bad or good art can really hold you back. With self-expression it is no longer about bad or good, but it’s about you. It’s important to remember that it’s a process and a journey. Once you’ve decided to make art for self-expression you might be surprised when you still encounter your inner critic or still feel very attached to the outcome. It’s good to start with the intellectual understanding that you can only ever make the art that you’re meant to make.

You are always expressing that which you need to express in the moment.

It’s important to be mindful of what being creative during the natural phases of your daily life is like. Sometimes you are on fire and everything comes easily, and other times all the energy has gone out of you like a mini burnout. I believe this is a normal part of life, but sometimes it can feel like it’s not fine. As if you’re ‘doing it wrong’ and you have to be ‘on’ and creative all the time. Sometimes you feel in the flow and make amazing art and the next day it doesn’t feel good. That’s part of the process. It requires courage to allow that to be part of the process and not get discouraged.

I really value what art can bring you if you focus on the process and the self-expression.

The beautiful thing is that doing art this way doesn’t require any specific skills or expensive art supplies.

It doesn’t have to be complicated. It can become a really nice part of your life where you are supporting yourself with your art. Instead of doing art to create something pretty or fixed, it’s about connecting with what you need to express. Sometimes that’s heavy and difficult, sometimes it’s light, but in my eyes it’s always perfect.

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