Starting to Focus on Your Mission as an Artist
Figuring out WHY you make your art is a super important aspect of discovering how to set your art apart, give it it's own voice and have it support your personal mission. Granted, not all artists go to the trouble of figuring this out and they're perfectly happy! Their art may even be amazing, but until they do the deep thinking (unless they're very intuitive) they won't know if the passion and effort they're expanding connects with their core.
This is why I encourage artists to reflect on what they want or need their art to do; for themselves, for their audiences, for the world. To me, figuring this out is a Very Big Deal as it helps me determine what I should spend the most time on, both in the making of my art and its dissemination.
I love this quote from creative, artist and writer Ben Folds:
“What an artist has to offer is obvious to just about anyone else but the artist him- or herself.”
"At its most basic, making art is about following what’s luminous to you and putting it in a jar, to share with others."
What a great phrase: what's luminous to you.
When you lean in and take notice of what you're drawn to create, what stands out to you and what you want to do with that, you are well on your way to becoming a creative with special powers.
Making a Personal Mission Statement can help you define your Artist’s Vision.
If you know who you are and what you stand for, it helps you determine ways you want to support that, in our cases as artists.
The Personal Mission Statement
A meaningful personal mission statement isn’t something you can just pull out of thin air. There are, however, questions you can begin asking yourself every day that will move you closer to creating one:
1. What is important? What/whom do you value? How is your life connected to those things?
2. Where do I want to go? You can answer this many different ways. Your answer may involve a spiritual, mental, or physical destination. It might describe the arc of your ongoing creative journey.
3. What does “the best possible outcome” look like for me? Describe your best possible result. This isn’t the time to be realistic. This is the time to dream.
4. How do I want to act? How do you want people to describe you? Think of a few words you would want to come to mind when people think about you.
5. What kind of legacy do I want to leave behind? Imagine you’re 100 years in the future. What does the impact you’ve left look like? How is your Butterfly Effect still touching lives?
Write down your answers to these questions and revisit them often. As you continue thinking about them, start giving your personal mission statement a shot.
A few guidelines:
Keep it short. You want this to be something you can sum up in a single sentence. Remember, this is about focusing your life on what matters most! Boundaries will help you keep that focus.
Don’t forget about others. Yes, this is a personal mission statement, but it should be just as much about the people you want to impact as it is about yourself. Make sure that shows.
Share it with the most important people in your life. Get feedback from your spouse, your mentors, and any other important people in your life. They can provide you with invaluable insight.
It’s OK to make changes. As you grow and continue learning, your mission might evolve. That’s natural. As long as you’re staying true to the mission you know you were put here to accomplish, you can’t go wrong.
The band OK Go are great practitioners of forming alliances with their curiosity and showing their followers just how much fun you can have!