“What work would you do if you were free to do whatever you want?”

This question came up in a discussion with a fellow MA student yesterday. It was something that was asked of him recently… we both agreed that we ARE free to do whatever we want! So what prevents us from making work?

I would posit that ‘freedom’ can hinder creativity. I think one often has to have “restrictions” in order to do the most interesting work. What do I mean by “restrictions”? It could be technical restrictions, so that you need to come up with a way of making that doesn’t rely on having a good camera/material/brush/oaint/whatever or indeed actually having ANY of those things. If you are a filmmaker without a camera, what would you do? If you are a painter without paint, what would you do? What if you are a filmmaker and you only have paint or a painter and you only have a camera, what would you do?

There are other restrictions though that can fuel creativity, which are more social or even political in nature. For example, restrictions on personal freedoms, as long as they aren’t too draconian, can inspire creativity in people who rage against them.

But within people who have access to the materials they need and are in a society that doesn’t restrict personal expression, why wouldn’t one feel “free” do do whatever one wants creatively? Insecurity. That inner critic- with the faces of a billion different people projected onto your own- who says ‘That’s total shit.’ This kind of ‘restriction’ is terrible for creativity.

Business writer and entrepreneur, Seth Godin has interesting things to say on ‘criticism’.

Godin was also interviewed by two artists and has some VERY interesting stuff to say in that interview, too.

So how do you go about stopping this inner critic? You just make something. Yea. It sounds so simple… but it can be REALLY hard when you are stuck. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. It doesn’t have to even be good. It doesn’t have to be big. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You just have to do something. In fact, try and do something terrible. Make something tiny and rubbish. And then tomorrow, do it again.

Here’s my tiny, rubbish thing for the day…

(Then read Hito Steyerl’s ‘In Defense of the Poor Image‘)