By Josephine Belliveau
Art, in all of its mediums, is individual in every way. No two people interpret it the same, and no artist creates with the same mind. There is only one thing that all art has in common, and it is that every piece is inspired and inspiring. For me, the most crucial beginning to my creative journey was finding inspiration in others.
Psychologist Andrew J. Elliot writes for Harvard Business Review that, “The heights of human motivation spring from the beauty and goodness that precede us and awaken us to better possibilities.”
Art encourages us to see beauty in the mundane or unpleasant aspects of life. Consuming it gives us the power to interpret it into our own context and see that we are not alone. Creating it gives us power over our stories and the ability to impact and inspire other people. What we create becomes a domino that inspires something or someone else, even if it is imperfect. A picture can speak a thousand words, and a thousand words can paint a picture. It appears differently to everybody.
Historically, art has become a butterfly effect in everything from political movements to personal expression. Both have stood the test of time, and appear in museums or are seen in history books. No art has been forgotten or unrecognized as long as it sparked something in the beholder or the creator. Every human has the need to be understood, but it takes being inspired by others’ bravery to find the courage to create in yourself.
Finding inspiration in others
Artists, specifically musicians, have had a significant influence on my life ever since I can remember. Quite literally. My earliest memory is being 4 years old and dancing around the kitchen to Taylor Swift on my mom’s iPod while she did the dishes. I had memorized the lyrics to all of Taylor Swift’s songs, and told everybody that I wanted to be a singer when I grew up. I had a notebook where I would messily write rhyming words, calling them my songs and performing them for my grandma. I was too young to have any doubts in myself, and Taylor took a dream that should seem far away and made me feel like it was in the palm of my hand.
Not only did her music have a huge impact on my childhood, but I consistently looked up to her as a role model and still do to this day. She inspired me from a young age to start keeping journals, and I can now look back on every year of my life because of that. As I grew older, I lost the dream of songwriting to perfectionism, as most people do with their childhood dreams. It was still something I was passionate about, but it became harder to want to do things if I wasn’t good at them. Or more accurately for a perfectionist, I didn’t want to do things if I wasn’t the best at them.
The fact of the matter is, there are very few people who are actually the best at something. I looked at the musicians that inspired me, and thought “They can’t all be the best, but maybe you don’t have to be the best to do something you love.”
After all, it was Taylor Swift who said during her June 2, 1995 speech in Louisville, KY, “You are not going nowhere, just because you’re not where you want to end up yet,”
So with that, I dug up the same old notebook I had when I was younger and started writing poems. They weren’t perfect or the best, but I loved writing them so much that I didn’t care anymore. My passion for it gave me intrinsic motivation. Eventually I submitted one to a poetry contest. I didn’t have any expectations to win, I was just excited about sharing something I was proud of. A few months later, I got an email saying I had won second place. More than anything, I was happy and proud I had started writing, and that felt better than winning any place.
“One of the most powerful things an artist can create is another artist.”By Josephine Belliveau
Eventually, my initial desire to write branched into several other things. Poems turned into songs, and I saved up for a guitar. I started journaling more creatively and writing articles for The Daily Key. With all of those things came learning curves and imperfect attempts, but the desire to do what I love overpowered the desire to be perfect.
If it hadn’t been for the artists I’ve looked up to, I might have never become one myself. No matter how small or insignificant they seem, the things we are inspired by throughout our lives can stick with us for a very long time. It’s what makes finding inspiration in others so natural to us. One of the most powerful things an artist can create is another artist. It only takes one moment of inspiration.
What the Arts do for community
Every artist has their own individual mind and identity that is unique to them. With this being true, when artists come together to work in a community of like-minded creatives, special things can happen. It’s not just a group of people with one thing in common, it’s a collective of people who understand each other. Art, no matter the medium, is an imitation of the creator. By simply existing in an environment of supportive artists, the rawest parts of you are being appreciated and accepted. This freedom alone inevitably inspires self-expression and motivates you to share the same support with others.
Art is a universal language, so many times it can bring people together without words. It is a way to create cultural understanding and a sense of belonging anywhere it goes. A mural in a public area can be appreciated by everyone in a community, bonding people in a way that conversation could not. The same can be done in the non-visual arts as well, like listening to music in another language. There are no barriers of language when it comes to consuming the arts, it can inspire someone just the same as it would if it were in their native tongue.
Public schools that are privileged enough to offer classes in the arts, whether it be music, theater, or drawing create a community for artists at a very young age. It’s an opportunity to be introduced to your passions and an environment to grow in them.
Many organizations, such as Materials for the Arts accept donations of unused or recyclable supplies to distribute to schools in need. The generosity and compassion of allowing young artists to thrive in their school environments inspires students to keep creating.
The artist in you
Whether you enjoy watching craft videos online or love to paint, allow yourself to be open to the seeds that these everyday inspirations plant inside you. Many people don’t consider themselves to be a “creative person” but oftentimes that stems from the mindset that you’re not good enough to create. Everyone has a beautiful soul, but it takes courage to express it. After you open yourself up to finding inspiration in others, you may even begin to inspire yourself. Give yourself permission to let your seed thrive, and be inspired by your own bravery. In the season of growth, challenge yourself to try new things and see where they take you.