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on growing as a creative person

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on growing as a creative person

Emily Kelley

So this is a subject that has been on my mind for a while, but I wasn't exactly sure how to boil it down into one sentence...until I just sat down to write a new post about it and here's what I've got:

Being a creative person in todays world is.....??

Well, maybe I don't have the whole sentence down yet, but I think I'm on to something. Being a creative person in 2016 is...rewarding...challenging...self-deprecating?...mind-numbing?...

This sentence pertains specifically to how social media has shaped the creative process, and the way creatives of today are able to form their own identities. The fact is that any creative person (or really anyone for that matter) can post their work online for anyone to see. Which is great, but the way the world responds, may ultimately shape the way the creative individual responds.

Let's take Instagram for example. (Instagram is pretty much the only social media platform I have somewhat of a grasp on. So I'm going to focus on it in this post.)

When I started my Instagram on June 24, 2013 I would have never thought that it would become a vital part of my process. Go ahead, page through my Instagram all the way back to my first post in 2013 and you will see how my work has evolved overtime. I wasn't looking for a large following, a large number of likes, or trying to figure out what would be popular to post. Today, I have about 1600+ more followers than when I started. Not a huge number by Instagram standards, but I still catch myself organizing and editing posts before I share them. Which leads me to wonder...

Has my creative process been altered by a social media app? How much of the work I make today is influenced by this app? Does my work have a correlation to the posts I like in my feed and other accounts I follow? 

Now that all sounds a little crazy, but not totally false. I think that it is okay to discover more about who you are and what you're drawn to as a creative person through social media without it overtaking your life. I think that my work has been in some form influenced by Instagram through being inspired by other artists, and wanting to work just as hard.

However, there are fallbacks to platforms such as Instagram. There has been countless artist ripoffs as of late, and a huge factor to blame is social media. I'm not talking about just the cases of Zara ripping off artists like Tuesday Bassen, but the everyday person that has an Instagram account. Our work is out there for anyone to copy, replicate, screenshot and repost without the slightest need to tag or give credit. Kind of scary, right? This is definitely something I worry about, but ultimately can't truly control. Not to mention, the emphasis on how many followers you have, how many likes a post has (wait, you mean that post only has 88 likes and not over 100?? I must be making crappy work today!).....It's tiresome. 

And what if Instagram (or any social media platform) never came into existence? Would your work look the same? Would you have grown as an artist, designer, illustrator, maker in the same way? Some food for thought.

After thinking about all of these factors, I could just delete my account right? Wrong. Here's what I'm thinking...

Social media is kinda great. I like social media...a lot.
There, I said it.

Why? Because Instagram has allowed me to connect with some of the most kind, brave, inspiring, super-talented people making, writing, exploring and sharing things in our world today. These people have been encouraging, supportive and helpful to my growth and process as a creative person. And you know what? There is an endless amount of these wonderful people who are on Instagram for you to meet, and there is always room for more. And I love that. Not to mention the fact that I use Instagram as a tool to meet many of my clients for freelance. 

Let's just think of it this way. Instagram is a free app that has helped me share my work with the public, meet awesome people, and grow my business...did I mention it was free?

So to end this post (I could go on forever, but I am putting you all to sleep as is..) I think that social media, Instagram specifically, has been a key component to my growth as a creative person today. Even with all the negatives mixed in. Therefore, if you too have these super introspective moments about what you're making, and if part of that struggle is coming from a place of frustration from social media, you might want to stop and ask yourself these questions:

Do I know why I am making this work?
Does this work express who I am, and not someone else?
Would I make this work, even without the recognition?

If the answer to all these questions is yes, than I feel like you are probably on the right track. Don't let the noise get to you, and just focus on making the work that YOU make.