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TIP: Creativity vs Productivity

CC Image: Jessica Mullen

An artist is paid for his vision, not his output.
Creativity is not just the process of putting things down on paper; it is also the process of understanding the importance of each mark.

If you’re working for someone else:

Beware of the time when the ten minutes you spend typing up something becomes more important to your employer than the 90 minutes you spent thinking it up and organizing the thoughts in your head.

As a creative, the process of crafting an outstanding product, whether it be composing a symphony or a sonnet, is the hours upon hours one spends generating a plethora of mediocre ideas to recover one that outshines the rest. Only thru self-critique and scrupulous editing can an interesting spark prevail and to be redeemed worthy of moving to the next phase of development.

Where Inspiration Strikes
The inner workings of the artist’s creation cycle grows and moves organically, hopping from one lily pad idea to the next, not linear like bookkeeping. We have to walk away from our projects from time-to-time to acquiesce to life’s other demands (dinner, kids, admin) and the course of cultivating the solutions to our projects requires elasticity and rest, hence, the incubation period. My best ideas come to me as I wake or as I shower, but the customer never sees that (and I can’t really charge for that) and this is where inspiration happens. If the customer did see these inspirational sparks, then I’d have to re-address my tendency for extreme exhibitionism. 😉

No, really, how much is it?
Upon watching a friend of mine, Joe, who was demonstrating the art of painting abstracts at an art supply fair was asked the price of his painting. As any artist with a series, he stated a ‘range’ of prices to the customer and that the price of this particular piece-in-progress wasn’t decided (until he was finished). The customer insisted on quantifying Joe’s process and justify his price by asking:

How long did it take you to paint/make that?

Joe’s polite answer:

It took me 40 years to paint this piece.

The customer persisted by laughing it off but continued to badger him about price. Joe realized she was a tire kicker and concluded with:

Honestly, I don’t know how long because I’ve done it in stages and I lose track of time when I’m immersed in the creative process.

People buy art for many reasons.
If you’re starting out, take note that many of your customers will buy your art because they like it or because they know a friend who loves the theme. No matter what your asking price, they will seriously consider the purchase when it makes sense for them to do so and some may confess that they need to budget for it to include it within their collections. That’s when you know you have a fan.

Others will be inspired by you, want to create the same art as you and immediately quantify their prices with yours. Aligning prices with market value is one thing, but backgrounds, experiences, and technique weigh heavily on the price of any piece by any given artist and that’s another topic for discussion.

Meanwhile, I hope this helps you gain confidence in your awareness of creativity versus productivity.

Here’s to Cultivating Your Creative Independence

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