After a fun and stimulating conversation the other evening, I was left with this bit of wisdom from a fellow writer:
“Art is the subconscious brain dump of all the things you’ve been consuming.”
If this is true, and I’m apt to believe it’s not wrong, it leads to a logical assumption. To be an artist, on some level, is to be a consumer. While we’re all over here trying to reduce our carbon footprint and unplug, is it possible to improve our creations by doing the very opposite?
Do you need to consume art to make art?
I guess it starts with asking the question: how do you allow inspiration in? It’s easy to be distracted by the wrong kind of consumerism, but I'm a pretty firm believer that art begets art. At its very core, the concept of inspiration is feeling mentally or physically able to do something. What makes you feel more "ready" than seeing someone else in the act of doing, or seeing something having been done? In my own experience, these blogs come from great conversations, significant documentaries, or books with big ideas. My creativity shrinks when I’m tired, or life seems to be sitting in a proverbial vacuum. Intentionally plugging in can be necessary to filling the inspirational well.
Conversationally, we tend to use the opposite terminology when want want to sit down and create: we tell ourselves and others that we’re “unplugging.” We unplug from our cellphones, from television, and social media. But, what is it exactly that we’re doing? We’re removing unnecessary distractions and allowing our subconscious to access the things we’ve been consuming… and, if you're a fan of this blog, there's a good chance that in your down time, you let your brain take its, uh… discard its art.
All of this leads to the potential theory that there are two outlets in the plug port. If you plug into to one, you recharge. The other drains you. I don’t think a fancy metaphor is needed here for you to know what I’m getting at.
And yet… I can’t help myself.
If you plug into the draining outlet (the constant barrage of daily news or the endless scroll of social media), can it contribute to problems such as writer’s block? Is too much of an unhealthy thing bad for the inspirational brain? Does draining the creative battery lessen art output or... (maybe worse) create anxiety art?
I realize this blog post has been a monologue of thought with little of the usual reference to specific books, movies, music, or general pop culture tidbits, but sometimes, I need to take a brain... let my brain expel its contents... That one quote up at the top of the post made me realize that in the long run, I have to protect my maker-brain by being a careful consumer; an artist consumer.
As this unique type of consumer, I have to feed my head with things that are healthy for my inspiration if I want to make creativity a daily habit. It's all part of taking this craft seriously (while not taking myself too seriously).
To get there, I have to plug in for the recharge, discharge, and continue to consume the things that feed my soul. We’re a generation of artists as consumers. We need to feed our brains right.
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