After staying up all hours of the night drinking countless forms of canned caffeine, I stepped back from my etching and braced myself for a critique. I was barely awake and hoping my work would speak for itself. My fellow classmates and I stood around the table waiting for the first person to be questioned, scorned, appraised or embarrassed… it was always an unpredictable and scary experience with Robert Rivers, the boot camp professor of printmaking. He's an extremely intense, dedicated, obsessive artist and he doesn't have the patience for anything but hard work.
Rivers, with a pensive look on his face, had a serious question for us,… "What is your favorite music, band, or song?" Naturally, I was confused by the relevance of the question, blanking completely and struggling to think of the right answer. It had been months since I played a song over and over again, feeling that same strong emotional connection to the lyrics and melody. As Rivers went around the room listening to people reluctantly answer the question he seemed disappointed. We had been so focused on the artwork and perfection that we forgot about the passion that goes behind it. It's what fuels the creativity and gives it substance. The creative process is a multifaceted one. The more we develop and nurture all aspects of our lives, the richer our work will be.
If you find yourself in a paper-crumpling, seemingly dead-end rut, perhaps other things are being neglected. As artists we often find ourselves delving into a secret world of imagery, theories and grandiose ideas. It is equally as important to connect with other forms of creative expression and passions. Travel, eat delicious foods, listen to your favorite band and let it take you back to a sweet moment in your life. Keep a journal of all things inspiring; a collection of thoughts, colors, sketches, dreams and music lyrics.