The Pitfalls of Originality


"The Best Wish"
8.5" x 5.5"
Mixed-Media on bookboard

The wonders of the creative process never cease, do they? The last few days, I've been feeling woefully insecure, as many artists do from time to time. There's no reason for this shift in mood, no huge event that contributed to a less-than-steller attitude towards any sort of crafting unless you count a lack of comments on some recent flickr uploads. But the internet, like much of life, is just like high school, except here, I've learned that work, family, and hobbies have replaced homework as reasons for losing touch at times. That, and I many people are more mature, though there are exceptions to the rule.

I'm getting off-point. Yesterday was the last day of my steroid treatment for my shoulder, and, we've discovered, there's a nerve being pinched by inflammation in the joint; long story short, I can't use my right arm for very long and left work early today sobbing and screaming in the car (thankfully, I had car-pooled, and didn't have to drive). The result is a very loopy, very moody Kira who's frustrated because she can't do any art.

Which is, well, frustrating, as I just got it all back.

Near the end of last week, I began floundering. I wanted to create something -- not just work in my journal, but MAKE something. A little book. A fabric collage. Anything. I'm so used to working in my journal or creating individual pieces like journal entries that I've finally gotten sick of it. Art is a process, and you have to continue to move, change, and grow in order to continue a creative outpouring. I didn't like how I was collaging, or how pages were coming together. In fact, the only thing I DID like was the colors I was using.

This blockage -- too many creative ideas and too small a hole to come out of -- was slowly driving me crazy.

Until the other night.

I've always felt trying to imitate a piece, or using pre-made backgrounds/collage bits was "cheating." That I should make my own original things instead of "borrowing" from others who were better equipped. Using pre-made stuff felt like a threat to my originality, and how could I make my mark if some of my elements weren't my own?

But the other night, I said, "Oh, screw it!" I adore the papers from the current issue of Somerset Studio and decided, after using a little piece in a journal entry, to make something in that style. It was all really inspired -- I'm talking now about the piece above -- by the scrap of blue paper. I found it on my desk while cleaning and just had to do something with it.

I don't think I've had that much fun in awhile! And the amazing thing is, the piece IS original because I made it -- and it's impossible to take my touch out of the equation. I feel so free, now that I've taken this limitation off me. Yes, I'll work on original stuff, but now, all I want to do is use whatever I want without reservations -- just play and be free and stop thinking about where the stuff came from -- through the process of creating, I'm transforming these pieces into something new -- something uniquely me.